My friends and I went on a trip to Puerto Princesa, Palawan last month and I must say it was an amazing amazing amazing experience! Great company, great activities, great food, and great place to stay in! The flight had been booked since March so we’d been excited about the trip for a while, and I’m glad the trip reached a greater peak than the anticipation ever did!
We met up at the airport at around 2pm. Kath, Enzo, Nikko, Camille and I fell in line at the Cebu Pacific counter. Camille and I jumped up and down from the excitement! It was the first time we would go beyond Batangas together.
But wait! Who took these paparazzi pictures? There was a surprise in the works. As far as Kath, Nikko, and Enzo knew, there were only 5 of us going on the trip together. I wasn’t supposed to know, but Camille was worried I wouldn’t be comfortable with the surprise so she told me the very day it was planned.
While we were waiting for boarding time, Camille excused herself to go to the bathroom. As she returned, I noticed two people walking on the other side of the aisle. Ah the surprise! I had to pretend I was surprised since the ‘surprisers” did not know of my awareness of the surprise. Alas, epic fail. I just stared at them. But I guess they got their expected reactions from Kath, Enzo, and Nikko! So who were these picture taking paparazzi surprise planning additional members to our now seven person Puerto Princesa tour group? Mar and Kris!
Funny thing, Mar would, on occasion, chat me up on Facebook and tell me how bad he felt for not joining us and promised he’d join us next time, and I just sat there fighting the urge to tell him I knew of the secret surprise plan.
Anyway, after all the added excitement from the expansion of our group, we got on the plane ready for the adventure of Palawan!
We got to Palo Alto Bed and Breakfast, and WOW. It was such a beautiful place!
It was already 6PM when we were done settling in in the two-floor room we reserved for the group so we decided to go out, explore the city, and find a nice place to eat.
After walking around, entering restaurants only to leave them after seeing the menu and avoiding sketchy looking establishments, we decided to eat in Nokinoks, a small restaurant in the middle of the city that made some of the best halo-halo and mais con hiejo that I have ever tasted.
We went home and had some drinks. While the others decided to sleep a bit early since our van would pick us up at 7am, Mar, Camille, and I decided to stay up to watch the Azkals game. We didn’t stay up for long though, Mar went up to the guys’ sleeping area and Camille and I decided to turn the TV off to let Kath sleep in peace.
Since I’m not good at sleeping on beds that aren’t mine, despite being the last to go to sleep, I was the first to wake up. After waking the girls up (Kris was in charge of waking the boys up), having some really good breakfast c/o Palo Alto and getting in the van, we headed to the port for our Honda Bay Island Hopping tour!
Our first stop was Pandan Island, named for the prevalence of pandan trees on the island, which had a beautiful underwater view! It was my, as well as Camille’s and Kath’s, first time to go snorkeling so Enzo and Kris had to give us some tips.
After snorkeling, it started to rain but that didn’t stop me, Kath and Enzo from running around like crazy in the rain and playing in the water. Mar, Nikko, Camille, and Kris decided to stay at the hut and wait for lunch to be served. During lunch, I experienced one of my firsts again! It was how to remove the shell from shrimp. (I’m used to them served to me in pastas and in other forms where the shell is already removed). Nikko and Enzo tried to teach me and I eventually got it after a couple of tries. Enzo was nice enough to offer to peel the rest of my shrimp, but I did not want to give up!
Our next stop was Snake Island, which, thankfully, was not named such due to the prevalence of snakes. It was an S-shaped island that we were unfortunately unable to explore due to the sudden downpour of HEAVY rain. We remained in our hut the whole time telling stories, which wasn’t really a bad way to spend time but we would have preferred there to be sun.
We got back to the hut, and the attendants were nice enough to open two more bathrooms for our use. See, we had to wake up really early that morning to be able to allow 7 people get showered before 7am and we only had one bathroom to do that. So we now had 3 bathrooms to use. After getting dressed, we attended Mass in the beautiful Immaculate Conception Cathedral.
We decided not to ask the driver to pick us up so we could explore the city more. We divided ourselves into two groups (Nikko, Camille, Mar, Me / Kris, Kath, Enzo) and we took a tricycle to the city center. From there, we followed the advice of the second group’s tricycle driver. He told us that there was a good Chicken Inato place not far from where he dropped them off. We started to walk and walk and walk until we realized that it was not as near as the tricycle driver made it seem to be. So we then took a tricycle again to the place which was definitely not a distance we could walk to and not watch me faint in the middle of the road from exhaustion.
Still, we were glad we followed the tricycle driver’s suggestion to try the place out because they served delicious chicken. Best.chicken.ever. Not bad, Mr. Tricycle Driver, not bad. I did some research and apparently the restaurant is called “Haim Chicken Inato”. The girls all ordered the regular, unspicy chicken inato, while the boys all ordered the spicy inato. Perhaps to show their manly ability to withstand the spicyness of the chicken, more likely because they just actually like spicy chicken.
We got back home and they played some sungka. I was sure I would lose so I didn’t join in. After that, everyone else went to sleep. I couldn’t sleep yet so I went on facebook (the B&B had really fast WiFi! I guess it’s because we were the only guests left) and chatted with some people until I felt ready to fall asleep.
On our third day, we went on the tour that i didn’t tell my mom about until after I got back: The Dos Palmas Day Tour. I knew my mom would flip because if the history of the place, but it did happen more than a decade ago so I wasn’t as worried.
Thank God the weather was cooperative that day! We took pictures on the boat. We were brave to stand at the end because the waves didn’t look like they were about to topple us off the edge.
When we got to the resort, Mar and I went ahead to secure a hut while the rest of the group took pictures. Apparently, the drummers were to not stop drumming until everyone has crossed the bridge and it took them a good 10 minutes before they decided to cross. Oops.
Since we wanted to maximize the sun’s presence, Mar and I signed up for kayaking while the others were fixing up the hut. It was my first time to kayak so I had no idea what I was doing. Yep, definitely a vacation full of firsts! As it was my first time to ride a kayak, it was also my first time to fall off it. (My mom thinks it’s because Mar was unable to handle my weight. Thanks mom, my self-esteem is gone.) My foot started bleeding and my legs are now scratched (the marks are what I now refer to as my battle scars) since we fell on rocks. On second thought, I fell on rocks and Mar fell on water since he apparently did not get any scratch on his body.
Nonetheless, I had so much fun kayaking! I did lose my sunglasses and my scrunchie when the kayak overturned but I still had fun learning how to do it! When we left shore, Mar already warned me that I shouldn’t panic in case the kayak decided to overturn. Maybe he, like my mom, questioned his ability to handle my weight. Haha.
After that, I decided to let my foot rest so I stayed at the hut while the rest made their rounds around the resort. Kath stayed with me and we talked about how much we were enjoying the trip. We then watched Nikko attempt to teach Camille how to ride a bike and you can guess what happened. Enzo, who claimed he didn’t know how to ride a bike, took his “first ride” and went around the whole resort on bike like a pro.
The buffet lunch was part of the tour so we happily went to the clubhouse to get an early start on the food. Once everyone got there, we attacked the buffet table. I have never felt so full in my life. I felt so full I didn’t even want to move. I just wanted to throw up. So while the others went around to take pictures, I decided to go to the hut and rest for a while. A few minutes later, I see Mar walk back to the hut. Apparently he fell asleep on one of the hammocks and when he woke up they left him (Oh Mar!). He sat beside me, we talked a bit, then he proceeded to go back to sleep.
While he was sleeping, the lady from the neighboring hut approached me and we talked for a bit. I walked around the area of the hut to try to help melt the food in my stomach and I guess it worked because by the time the others got back I was feeling a bit better but I was unsure if I could manage to snorkel again given that I still wanted to throw up.
Eventually, I decided to join them snorkeling. It was amazing tho because there were some fish that were amazing to look at that weren’t around in the first time we snorkeled, but then I got a bit dizzy. As we were going back to the floating hut, I started feeling dizzier and dizzier and water started to creep into my mask. I also didn’t realize that I had blood coming out of my foot and leg. I apparently had scratched myself somewhere while swimming.
We washed up and rushed to the boat that was ready to leave. It was a bit difficult for me since I now had three different scratches on my left foot which made it hard to walk with sand trying to get in the wounds. With all that had happened that day I fell asleep so soundly on the boat that Camille and Kris were worried I wasn’t breathing. Haha I love you guys.
When we got back to the room, Dr. Nikko and Nurse Camille fought a battle with me while they were trying to put betadine on my wounds. I kept fidgeting around because I worried of how much it would sting me. It was such a sight with Camille holding my foot down, Nikko trying to drop some betadine on the wound and me screaming and flailing my arms and the others laughing at how I was reacting.
After fixing up, we went to Ka Lui, one of the hardest restaurants to get a table in due to the demand. Mar and I had read about it beforehand so we made reservations the minute we got to Palo Alto. They had delicious food. We all ordered the same thing, which was the daily special. I regret now not writing down the names of the dishes but what i do remember is that there was Steamed Fish in Mango Sauce, Fish Steak, and Crunchy Eggplant.
They also gave us complementary dessert which was fruit salad in half a buko! It was so good. After eating, we spent an hour taking pictures inside the restaurant. They had this beautifully lit area which was probably built for the purpose of having pictures taken in it.
We got home and everyone was tired. Kath, Kris, Mar and I were the last ones standing and we played cards (and I kept losing) while drinking some of the leftover drinks. It was our last night so we had to consume everything we bought from the previous days. Nikko, Camille, and Enzo were sleeping soundly but Nikko woke up after a while and had a drink as well. Then we all went to sleep.
It was our last day in Palawan. How sad. We woke up early to pack our stuff because we would have to rush to the airport right after our Underground River tour. We rode the van which we shared with four other tourists and set off to Sabang where the Underground River is located. The Underground River is in the running to be declared as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, and rightfully so! It is a definite must see for anyone who plans to go to Puerto Princesa. It goes to show how brilliant nature truly is and how it is able to create something magnificent.
The rock formations in the Underground River were truly amazing! All you need is some imagination and a story can just be brought into life while you’re in the cave. Even if you don’t try hard, you can still visualize what the tour guide is saying. Amazing. I was just staring and listening and staying quiet the whole time so I can take in the whole experience.
Even the outside of the Underground River was really pretty.
After that we had a buffet lunch by the beach. The food wasn’t as great as the food in Dos Palmas. It kindov reminds me of those family picnics that we used to have when I was younger. There was one dish that was made of nothing but fat. Was it the liempo? I can’t remember. But every time I would go and get some it would be all 98% fat 2% meat. I complained about the omnipresence of fat on my plate and Mar tells me to eat it anyway since the fat tastes good and a good five minutes later he makes the same remark that I did that he countered himself. Very good.
On the way home, I was a bit freaked out by the way the van was just speeding through the turns on the road. I think Enzo noticed it because we started talking a bit while everyone else was fast asleep in the van.
When we got back, we quickly collected our things and then left. We had little time the previous day to buy some presents for our friends so we had little shopping left for the airport. While waiting for the plane, we got key chains as our reminder for the trip. Kath, Nikko, Camille and I got the Starfish, Kris and Mar got the turtle, and Enzo got the Crocodile.
We got back to Manila safely and we knew everything would go back to normal. They would all go back to work and I will carry on with the rest of my vacation in Manila. I would have to say it is the most fun I’ve ever had in a while. Looking at the pictures make me sad that we’re no longer there but at the same time I’m glad that we got to experience an amazing almost hassle free vacation together! I’m hoping we have one for next year as well! Thanks guys, for the amazing Palawan experience!
** Photos (except underwater shots) courtesy of Kris and Kath. You guys have such beautiful cameras.