As I was always singing…you were just a dream that I once knew. Yes, it was long overdue.
Arriving in PPS with so much excitement. I guess I am overwhelmed with the things I am about to discover, places I am about to explore and of course the fun this place can offer. I promised myself to start the year right and be back on track in pursuing my goal to travel around the Philippines. The more places i can visit, the more satisfied i will become. So i hit the road to adventure.
I booked a flight Jan 16-19 2014 via Tiger Air Philippines. Yes I got it on bargain price Php1,140 roundtrip. My travel dates were not during peak season but as to avoid any inconvenience, I reserved my accommodation and got some of the tour packages this island has ahead of time.
I am a traveler by heart and as much as I wanted to cut cost during this trip I guess this is just the efficient way of doing it. I guess this works for all solo travelers out there. The good thing about the tour packages is that it's is being billed per person. You will be with other travelers during the duration of the tour and that makes it more exciting. So there, a week of preparation for both the places I wanted to set foot on and and at the same time the accommodation.
I chose to book a reservation in Duchess Pension as i got good reviews as well from this place. In my own terms, no cons or whatsoever. It's just very accessible to the market and near the main street of Puerto Princesa. Just a short walk you can see pharmacies, banks, fast food chains etc. So I got all my needs covered by taking this one. As most everyone are aware than I am a shoe-string traveler so what more can you expect. I got the solo budget room for only Php250.00/night and i am staying here for three nights and that makes it Php 750.00 for the entire stay. Not bad! What I love about this one is you get to have your own private room. I've stayed in most dormitel during my travel so that makes this one special. :) you know what I mean. What's good about staying in these types of accommodation is that they have common area like dining, lounge and living area where you and the rest of the guests staying can get bonded over a cup of coffee or short conversation while watching TV shows. The place is well lit and at the same time clean. They have a mini restaurant but the foods served were breakfast meals. They also have kitchen just in case you wanted to cook your own food to save some bucks. A separate review will be created for this newly discovered Backpackers Haven.
I arrived past 6 in the evening Puerto Princesa I hired a tricycle to Duchess Pension and paid Php50.00.
So not to be taken advantage of, what I usually do the moment I arrived in a place I would look for either the nearest Tourism Booth or Police Officer on duty to assist me. There were only two types of Public Transportation within the city: Tricycle and MultiCab (Jeepneys) .Am so tired and hungry...I found myself walking in the middle of Rizal street looking for a place to feed my tummy. I landed in Edwin's Dimsum House...hmmm...they served Filipino Dishes contrary to its name. Generous serving and tastes good. I call it a day and lights off at around 830 in the evening in preparation of my early morning tour to the underground cave. Schedule pick up time is 7 in the morning.
I woke up early in the morning at 5AM and prep myself. I need to be fueled up before this tour starts. So I grab my feet and walk towards Rizal Avenue again and spotted Jollibee! Bida ang saya..lol..it was never intended to be like this but in almost all of my travel whenever I get to see Jollibee I cant help myself but stop and of course dine.
At exactly 7 in the morning I got picked up to start this whole day of adventure. Gladly, there were two guests coming from the same place joining our tour. So, I got instant friends, Leyne and Jon, the love birds. So off we go and dropped by on some other pension houses and hotels to complete the 12 people for our group. According to our guide Mitch the tour has been cancelled since Tuesday because of the weather, but, I guess I am so lucky that everything fall into places when i came. I didn't have to experience rescheduling my itinerary and ruin my trip, well I guess ‘ruin’ may not be appropriate because I am so flexible and i can go with flow. But I was lucky enough that they have resumed it today. The underground cave is approximately 8.2 km but tourist are only allowed to cruise 1.5 kms the rest of it can navigated by researchers and those who have other purpose aside from tourism. In addition to such, permits of obtaining more than the allowed is a bit tedious.
Yes, solo flighted as it is and this is the part where I am enjoying coz i don't have to care for anyone except myself and whatever i have in mind. Also, the good thing about being alone is you don't isolate yourself talking to just the people you know, it gives you time to reach out interact with other people and in the end make friends with them. Being in a solo trip isn't bad after all, you gain loads of information because all you need to do is listen to people talking and at the same time make new set of friends. The road leading to the Underground River is winding and a bit rough. Expectation has been set already so no surprises along the way. Expecting more people to see later due to the delay in some of the tours these past few days. Whatever I'll get to discover here will be carved in my travelers spirit. There is one stop over on our way to Sabang the jump off to the underground river. It’s a viewing deck, refreshment and souvenir center.
Past 9 in the morning we arrived at Sabang Port, and as expected, there were hundreds of tourist flocking due to the rescheduled tour. So we waited in line for roughly 2 hours before we cross the open sea to the Underground River. So to kill time, i took some photos of the place.
Before reaching the other side of the island where the actual underground river tour will start you will pass by a trail where you can see monkeys and monitor lizards known to locals as "bayawak" They were just free to roam around, so friendly and know how to project on camera.
After a short walk, there will be a small paddle boat that will used to get inside the underground cave. This is it, i am actually here, seeing the entrance of the cave is such an accomplishment, I am no longer just dreaming of this place, but will be experiencing it in a little while.
The underground river is about 40 minutes ride to and fro according to the tour guide. We are not allowed to use flash cameras inside as this will disturb the bats inside. Safety first, we have to wear helmets too. The guide will be sitting on the end part of the boat and there will be one volunteer guest to sit in front that will serve as the light of the entire troop inside. He/she will be responsible holding the spot light and show us the way or point to the stones/carvings that the guide will show us. My apologies as I didn't really took good images inside as it’s so dark and I am busy in appreciating the beauty of nature inside the cave. So I guess, that makes this trip more exciting because in order for you to appreciate what’s inside, you have to see it for yourself.
After roughly an hour of floating inside the underground river, I am just so happy that I finally experienced how it feels to be floating inside it. Then off we went back to Sabang port to have our lunch as this is part of the tour package. After feasting for a delicious seafood platter, we headed off back to the city. I felt so tired and slept the moment I felt the comfort of my bed.
I am supposed to have my city tour in the morning. I thought making a DIY city tour will be a great way to explore the place but unfortunately i wasn't able to do so. So i booked an afternoon city tour. I just roam around in the morning and headed to Kalui for lunch. Details of the Dining Barefooted at Kalui Restaurant
After a hearty lunch, i went back to Duchess to wait for the start of my City Tour. I paid Php 600.00 for the half day city tour and will be dropped to bay walk for my bay cruise dinner and firefly watching. So, we are a group of 13 in the city tour. The city tour started in Puerto Princesa Baywalk, it’s also beside the Port. Here you can stroll, jog, walk,dine and have some fun. People say it’s best to go here during the night.
Across Plaza Cuartel is this neo-classical church called the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. It was built in the late 1800s in tribute to the Immaculate Conception of Mary, who is the patron saint of Puerto Princesa. I got the chance to peep the interiors of the church. According to our guide, this church is the tallest building in Puerto Princesa.
Formerly known as the Crocodile Farm and Nature Farm, Palwan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center serves as the sanctuary of the endangered Philippine Crocodiles. Aside from crocodiles, the center takes care of other animals like ostriches and endemic to the island of Palawan like the bearcat.
At the main hall of the main building, a skeleton of a huge sea water crocodile is encased in a glass chest. And on the wall beside it hangs the skin of the said crocodile. This crocodile was caught somewhere in island and was killed after it devoured a child. This remains of the crocodile showcases how big salt water crocodiles can grow.
A few meters from main hall, is the Hatchling House. Here, crocodiles are taken cared by the conservation center and are segregated into different levels of maturity from egg to a few months old. The hatchling house has a main walkway in the middle where visitors are allowed to pass through the building. On each side of the path walk are dozens of white basins that contain up to about 20 crocodile hatchlings. The further into the building, the older crocodile hatchlings are contained. There is a warning on guests to not extend any body part into the basins as the baby crocs snap and sometimes leap from the basin. Before heading to the wildlife forest, you will pass by the bearcat’s cage.
Baker's Hill first started as a simple bakery. It has a mini park back then, but now you'll see that it already have a wide theme park with new establishments such as, the baker's kitchen, pizza house, hula shake, snack bar, souvenir shop, view deck, etc. The best Ube Hopia ive ever tasted. :)
As my vacation is finally coming to an end, I had a sidetrip at the Kuyba Almoneca, ate the famous Chaolong and dropped by the Provincial Capitol before heading to the airport.
Kuyba Almoneca and Meditation garden is somehow in the outskirts part of City and not known to many. I am just so glad that the tricycle driver i got offered to bring me here. Entrance fee is Php 50.00 and you will have a guided tour. My tourguide was Jackson.
Kuyba Almoneca is private property. Jackson told me that the couple who owns this lot bought it for the purpose of mining. It was named after Allen, Monalisa, Neil, Monica at Almoneca. But they discovered a cave. Cave with various formations of stalactites and stalagmites. But what makes this cave special is the formation of the Holy Face of Jesus. They also put some statues of saints inside the cave.
They have gardens, chapels, overnight stay room, function halls and restaurant.
This trip will not be complete without Chaolong – The Famous Vietnamese Cuisine in Palawan.
What is Chaolong?
Chaolong is made of rice noodles in sweet broth and meat that can be garnished with bean sprouts and mint leaves. It is composed of flat, thin rice noodles in a sweet-savory broth with meat of either beef, buto-buto or beef bones and pork, served with the requisite plate containing sprigs of mint and basil, raw bean sprouts and a piece of kalamansi.
There are a lot of Vietnamese eatery that offers this rice-based noodle soup. Combined with garlic bread and cold softdrink, I satisfied myself with this noodle. Though this one is a variety yet it still has the taste unique in it.
Topping the list is when i saw the ground crew including the guards waving at us when we were about to take off. This struck me big time, i have been to the labeled friendliest city in the country but i never encountered something like this. As my shirt shouts: I LOVE PALAWAN!