My honey and I went to Palawan for vacation this weekend. It was a well deserved break that I was waiting for.. to release all stresses and enjoy the summer.
Disclaimer: This post is a long one, but I do hope you'll enjoy it.
My honey went in a day earlier to Palawan. He stayed at the hotel for one whole day and night. We were settled in to stay at the Legend Hotel. Everything was pre-planned and was organized for us. We were fetched from the airport by the hotel's free transportation service, and were greeted with warm welcome at the hotel's lobby. We were even given a necklace that was made of wooden carvings and of shells as a token. We had free drinks at the time of arrival at the lobby where the orientation took place.
The hotel also offered free breakfast for those who stayed there. It was free in a sense that there is no separate cost for the food. Since our group had purchased a packaged tour with them included as the hotel accomodation, we had an exclusive lunch on our first day, 21st of April. This was an awesome meal.. I can still recall the taste of the very palatable "Tiyan ng Barilles" (whatever that fish is). To add up to this sumptuous meal, was their chopsuey and seafood soup. And the favorite drink of this island, the buko juice.
Our first dinner was a dinner set in Hawaiin theme. Everyone was obliged to dress in Hawaiin-like clothes. Truth was that, I was planning to wear something that was really Hawaiin. I had brought with me a two-piece pink hand-dyed summer wear and a flowery headband to match the theme. However, the sight of people not wearing anything close to a Hawaiin outfit chickened me out to wear those daring clothes! Hahaha, I don't want to put myself into shame, moreso, attract unnecessary attention. Good thing I brought many extra clothes with me too.. whew! Anyway, the food was again a sweep-me-out-of-my-feet meal. They have prepared giant (and I mean giant) shrimps whose head (just the head) was about the size of my whole palm! (around 7inches) I love seafood so much.. seafood and veggies. That meal was actually one for anybody who's more like my type.. it wasn't for the meat lover, but they did have some meat viands too (I just didn't wanna sample it for I was too absorbed with the shrimp.. ).
The hotel showcased a beautiful Koi Pond too, where my honey and I have taken two cute shots while waiting for the next itenerary. They had a small bridge atop of a small pond full of colorful fishes swimming the clear freshwater. Another facility that I loved was the pool side and its shower room. Everytime that we were to go out for another itenerary, it was always a battle of who goes to use the CR first, and my honey (being the ingenious one that he always was), suggested that we use the pool side's shower area.
Honda Bay, Pandan Island, Bat Island and the Snake Island
Honday Bay was the first itenerary for 21st of April. It took just about 20minutes of travel to the bay itself and we had to transfer to a boat to get to an island. The bay itself is already a site but is barren. The actual thrill of travel was when we got to the boat to hit our 35minute ride going to one of the nearest islands from Puerto Princesa–Pandan Island. It was given this name because 'pandan' (not the one used for making foods smell better) is a material that is mainly exported from this island and is used for creating crafts like mats, hats, etc. This is where we had our first Palawan waters' experience. I was introduced into snorkelling, scuba diving, and the simple pleasure of swimming the waters of Palawan.
The water was gorgeous. It was inhabitted by lots of fishes and corals! Really lovely, I tell you. I'm really afraid of the sea because its greatness appeared very dominating for me, and I cannot seem to begin to be confident about my being against the power of the sea (or, at least that's how I felt). But, even this fear was striking me head on, I was enchanted by the environment itself. It seemed like the swooping coconut tree, if it wasn't immobile at all would've played with the waves of the sea. The sand was like telling you to play longer in the sea, for the sea was your friend. I can remember so much of the beautiful feeling. The snorkels enabled me to peek at the clear sea-greenish waters and see what it houses underneath. One of the guides assisted me to the midshore raft where scuba diving was taking place. The whole view was magnificent! Sigh.. it was a paradise.
Some went to experience the banana boat ride. I know its a great experience, I can hear some of you now, saying "awww.. sayang naman at you didn't try it". I'm not yet cool with the idea that I will be dropped into the ocean! No, uh-uh.. not yet.. Good thing my honey respected my decision. Instead of going with the banana boat riders, he simply stayed with me at the swing while we sipped one fresh buko and laughing our hearts out.
Along side of Pandan Island was The Bat Island. No one inhabits this place for, technically, it was just mangroves that formed the likeness of an island. Beneath the shrubs were just mud, and the only inhabitants were–yes, bats. The boatman explained that only at around 7pm, the bats come out of their hiding place to begin their nocturnal lifestyle.
After around 3hours of playing in the waters of Pandan Island, we transferred to Snake Island. It was called as such because of the shape of the island.. its not that there were a lot of snakes there.. lolz.. otherwise, why bring tourists to that spot.. Here, we didn't really have much time to swim. We had lots of pictures taken here, as a group and as a couple. What we went about doing after the shots was to try and walk until the lenghty island. The whole land itself was only very narrow, yet very long.. resembling that of a snake's body. Its like the island width which was only like one major road's width was surrounded by shores. Still, the sand was white and pleasing to the sole. We ran through one side of the island while goofing around interesting stops, then dipping ourselves in the water anytime we felt like fishes that were drying up.
We were running out of time to spend in Snake Island at that time and the long stroll along the shore was exhausting the time to get back to camp. There were already a couple of peeps at the far end of the island that were already nearing the place where we stopped. We decided to have fun as we were to go back the camp. My cool, and child-hearted honey went about engraving something in the sand. Of course, its not a curse word, but a mark of love shared between us. I decided to spice it up a little. A little "I love you" written in the sand is just as boring as an everyday goodbye without something different on top of it. Ergo, I wrote his name on the sand too. lolz.. I put his first name after the "I love you".. and he did so too with my name. It has been quite a quick moment, and yet we didn't notice that it would be a shame if the passers by would see what we've done, moreso embarass ourselves since they saw who did them and still get a hand of our names. We had to run for our lives…
We were running like hell, hell away from the strangers.. from whom we wanted to protect our identities.
SP: maybe we should switch clothes.. so that they won't recognize us.. *lol* Deyey: wag! malalaman din nila kung sino tayo! Dapat takpan natin ang ating mga mukha! SP: *lol* Deyey: *feeling narrator* …just when they thought they can escape the Graffitti wars! mwahahahaha… SP: *lol* Deyey: ayan! malapit na tayo sa bangka! Konti nalang.. malapit na nila tayong abutan! Takbo pa! SP: *lol*
We got to the shore unharmed.. and still intact.. no part of us was bruised, only our ego and reputation (in case they were one of our groupmates). You must have imagined I was running frantically and laughing at the same time. I must have dropped at most a teaspoonful saliva just doing this Graffitti Wars.
Underground River, Taraw Island Lunch
The next day, I woke up at around 3:30AM. The wake up call was supposedly 5:30AM.. I know, I was just an obsessive-compulsive person and didn't want to be in the way of people hurrying to take a bath, dress and gear up for the next itinerary. Breakfast was served free by the hotel at 6AM. The restaurant was a cozy one with lots of bamboo and nipa crafts. It was a buffet breakfast, and it served a semi-american, semi-filipino like breakfast. My ideal breakfast is american type.. and was glad they had buns, butters and eggs for breakfast.
We departed the hotel at late 7:30-8AM compared to initially set 7AM departure since the trip going to the underground river was to take 1 and a half hour to 2hours of travel. We were forewarned that the place might have playful monkeys around and that we must not bring plastic bags that can attract their attention and make them cause some stealing from the belongings. We had to pack our own towels, water and even mosquito-repellants, for the cave might have insect dwellers that may provide discomfort.
This river was initially called the St. Paul's Subterranean Underground River of Puerto Princesa National Park; now, its called the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. It has 8km of length and has many branches. The highest point is actually inside the hollow of a mountain, which was called the "Cathedral" because it had a massive staglagmite that is the shape of a candle at its center. Along side its wall, at the end of the Cathedral were more formations and were called "The Nativity" when viewed from the center front. There was also the "Unicorn-like" formation from this angle. On another angle, you would no longer see "The Nativity" and the "Unicorn-like" formation, instead, on the way back, atop the "Candle" was a structure similar to "The 3 Kings".
Along the travel, we have also marvelled at the so-called "Vegetable section" and the "Meat section" of the cave. True to their names, we found stalactites forming mushroom shapes, and other leafy vegetables' shapes. The meat section was awesome too! You wouldn't believe to find a chicken's thigh part as the shape of one of its formation.. and many others too! We were only able to traverse around 1.5Km because the other areas have grown to be unpassable already by the size of the boats that were available. What was remarkable were some that showed faces and human shapes. We even saw what they call "The face of Jesus", and the image of a white naked woman. The wonders of nature is truly awesome! But, I must warn you, the eyes of man is a continous lens, not an oversized mega-pixelized lens, ergo, what these photos may show are not even close enough to match what wonders our human eyes saw.
After the dark, curiousity-unveiling trip under that magnificent cave, we managed to take pictures of stray monkeys waiting for something edible to fall off our bags. There were a couple of large monitor lizards too, whose pictures I took myself. Cool!!!
Our lunch was well overdue by an hour already. Our boatman sailed us as fast as he can to our beach side lunch at Taraw resort. Here, we were again served with fresh buko as our drinks. We had adobong kangkong.. (my favorite), liempo, steamed tuna, and adobong chicken as buffet lunch. We stayed a bit longer in this resort, waiting for the other boats to arrive and eat their well-deserved sumptuous lunch but we didn't get to swim. My honey and I simply enjoyed the view while we played catch and throw of a small buko that fell to the ground. It was quite small, for it only fit the larger area of the palm, just to give you an idea. After which, when the swing was again empty, we lounged around and had a bit of funny moments which I will share with you later.
Now who the hell is Herman??
Herman is the name of our guide. By far, he was the best guide I've ever encountered. He was sitting at the passenger seat of the van, while the rest of us either listened to him, or stared out of the window in adoration of Palawan's beauty.
Again.. Ma'am, Sir, let me remind you.. *long pause, as if preparing for a grand tadah* you are in Puerto Princesa!
Of course, we tourists have to have the responsibility of watching out for our items. It cannot be anyone's fault if it gets lost. But, Herman, as he always say, Puerto Princesa is safe. They have close to zero percent crime rate, ergo, no pickpockets, no murderers, no rapes, etc. Would you believe that?! Well, you must. For once, we trusted this guy who is a native Palaweno, and left our baggages unattended while in Pandan Island. I tell you, with the many people there, no one did take interest in any of the baggages whatsoever. Palawan boasts of its riches, and that its resources are utilized only by around 25%. Wow..
By the way, Sir, Ma'am dito po sa left side niyo, you'll see… at dito naman po.. makikita po natin ang..
Yes, the trip was entertaining to the last second. You can immediately see his passion for this job.. that he even knows the itsy-bitsiest detail of the island. He even knows where the century-old tree is! He managed to describe to us even the plant life that inhabits most of Palawan! Man, I really must compile all my knowledges of Palawan in memory of the best guide in the whole 7,107 islands of the Philippines (tama pa ba count ko??)
He spends time with us like he was part of the barkada, he takes watch of each of our welfares while walking, while eating.. head count before departure, and cautions after arrival. We call him by many names.. but more popularly as "Man 2" because there were many "-man"s in the tourist guide department.
To Herman, thanks for making the trip a comfortable one!