Palawan for my Kaarawan (Birthday Trip)
|walkway to underground river|
My granny once told me (or maybe a couple of times) how much of a “lakwatsera” I am (fond of roaming around in a more sensible term) due to many moles found on my soles. Yes, I have three moles lined up from my pinky toe to the edge of my soles. Haha. I don’t know maybe it is just a way for old people to explain such thing. Though true enough, I love to travel. I would give up any concert just to travel or be able to travel. It brings me so much joy being able to experience different things, being able to enjoy what other areas can offer and most especially being one with nature.
For years now, I have wanted to visit Palawan. I always am in awe whenever I see pictures from El Nido, Coron and Puerto Princessa. I promised my self that one day, I will be able to visit any of the three and that day (well days) came last March 12-14, 2011. Gone are the days that plane tickets sky rocket. Due to influx of people traveling in and out of the city and enjoying what other regions in the Philippines can offer, most often air fare would drop and I was able to catch it!
For my birthday this year, I decided to take a trip. I was going to take it alone but few friends decided to join me for the trip seeing how much the fare cost. I was going to go on a “self journey” but then again maybe I can take it some other time. You see, I am not really fond of shopping for clothes, buying new stuff. I am more of a gadget and travel kinda girl. If you judge me by the things I love like those two, I am sorry but I think you’ve been living in a cave for far too long. Anyway, instead of buying something or eating out, I decided to take this trip and enjoy what Puerto Princessa can offer. So here goes!
We had the 7:30AM flight on March 12, 2011. This was a day after the 8.9 magnitude and tsunami that hit Japan so the people we know were kinda hesitant for our trip due to the Tsunami warning in east coast of the Philippines, but still we pushed through it. The weather was great when we got there. The sun was high and mighty, glad that the 2000 pesos round trip airfare was given justice with the weather that greeted us in Puerto Princessa, Palawan.
Our tour guide, Kuya Nelson and the owner of the travel agency, Kuya Hanny (my college friend’s contact in Palawan) greeted us with their warmest smile and a welcoming gesture. We were brought to our hotel, (Ysabelle Mansion) to get ready for the long day. The place is neat and the staff were friendly and most importantly there was free wifi!! Haha. We left our room in about 10AM for our 2 hour drive to the wharf that would take us to the subterranean underground river.
|Taraw Vista Lodge and Restaurant|
|Wharf near Taraw Vista Lodge|
|Gateway to Subterranean Underground River|
|Pathway, looking so old school|
|Another view of the pathway|
|no words can describe the beauty of this place|
|entrance to underground river|
|couldnt take a lot of pictures inside but this would do|
Before taking a 15 minute boat ride to the river, we had lunch (for free as it was part of the tour package) at TARAW Vista Lodge and Restaurant. The chicken adobo there was awesome. The view was magnificent as well. The sand was as fine and as white as you could ever wish it to be and the waves were so calming. After eating lunch, we headed to the wharf for the 15 minute boat ride.
I was in great wonder looking at the mountains and the white sand beaches. When we got to the shores, we were greeted with a sea of tourists waiting for their turn to experience the beauty of the underground river. It was a 45 minute ride back and forth and the boatman/guide was keen enough to explain things underground, the shapes of the stalagmites and stalactites and all other images formed through the years. Our entire Saturday trip was worth it.
We got back to the town around 5:30 from all the land and sea travels. We rushed to the market for the pasalubong thinking we wouldn’t have enough time the next day to buy them.
After cleaning up all the rubbles and dirt that we gathered from our jam-packed day, we decided to eat out for dinner, we went to Badjao Seafront Restaurant. The ambience was great mind you, music is good, place was neat but the draw back was that we had to wait nearly an hour for our orders. They really know how to make you enjoy your food to the very last piece. The best thing that I have eaten in Palawan was their Lumpiang Palawan, I would go back anyday to have them for lunch and dinner.
|Lumpiang Palawan, my far my favorite lumpia!|
The next day, we had to wake up way too early for our Sunday trip as our tour guide will be picking us up by 7:30AM. We had our breakfast (still free as it was provided by hotel) at 7am. We were off to a three island hopping spree. The pambato reef was an amazing experience. Although, I think there was a sure surplus of tourists that day wobbling around, we were still able to appreciate what was beneath.
Second Island we visited was Snake Island, where we again snorkeled. What was under the waters was a sight for sore eyes. I have never snorkeled before, but this experience made me appreciate the marine life more. The pure white sand beach was a plus for what I had experience underneath it.
Then for our last island, we went to Pandan Island, the place looked more sophisticated than the Snake Island. What you could see from the latter were old nipa huts but in the former, it seemed more developed. We enjoyed the same thing, swimming and snorkeling.
We had a side trip to the city, visited the Immaculate Concepcion church and the Plaza Cuartel.
To end the day, my friend and I decided to take an extra trip to Iwahig river where we could watch fireflies. Having the moon so bright and the stars lining up made the boat ride more surreal than just watching the fireflies.
Our day ended amazingly and I would definitely go back to Palawan in a heart beat! I promise that the next time I visit, it will be Coron and El Nido.
Side note: it pains me to see that the developers are slowly creeping in Palawan. There will be a new mall sometime soon in the town. I hope that these developers would be able to care for the nature that surrounds them. Palawan is a great place to get away from all the chaos you find in the city. I sure hope when I come back, it would have the same feel. I came to know that one of the major hotels being built there is owned by their former Governor which would make anyone in their right mind ask – where did he get all the money for it. With the on going trial on the murdered journalist and the mining dispute, I sure do hope that nature and man are given justice they truly deserve.
On a lighter note:
Air fare: 2k roundtrip
Tour package for 2 days: 3, 800 (including land and water transfers, accommodation, free lunch and breakfast)
Fire fly watching: 1100 (but haggle for a cheaper price) this includes land transfer, buffet dinner and firefly watching fee.
It takes about 30 mins to go to Iwahig for the firefly watching. Best to go there around 6:00pm. There are 3 firefly cities there (housed in Bakawan Trees)
If you want to get a reasonable tour package, you can contact the travel agency that we got. Gave us the best experience ever!
By that I leave you: don’t be a stranger in your own country, visit the places where you could and when you can. It is such a waste that foreigners are more likely to enjoy what our own backyard can offer.