Our Puerto Princesa City tour was a lot shorter than it should’ve been. We only toured in their big tricycles, which was a lot cheaper.
Our first destination was the Crocodile Farm. The Crocodile Farm Nature Park was farthest in all of our destinations.
When Kuya Allan dropped us off at the farm, we had about 10 minutes to look around at the souvenir stores around us before the guy whistled at the office for us to get inside for our tours.
The entrance fee is P30 and we had paid already so we went directly into their museum when we were called. The first part of the tour was their museum, beginning with the skeletons of the biggest saltwater crocodile (which was over 5m long – was initially found to have a human body inside) and the skin which was partially disgusting but cool as well.
After the museum, we went into their crocodile farm, starting with the baby crocodiles. We weren’t allowed to make noise, or use flashing cameras or make a lot of moves while in the breeding building, but we were lead through while the guide was giving history about the place. The place was disgusting and smelled really bad, but I guess if you’re into new stuff, you’ll enjoy the place.
Right outside the breeding farm, we headed onto the next part of the tour – the big crocodiles. The crocodiles were held in a nest and there was a bridge above the nests for the tourists to walk on and see the crocodiles instead of leaning over and possibly having the tourist harmed. The crocodiles hardly moved and that was because they get tired really easily. Farther down the bridge, the crocodiles were bigger and they weren’t moving either. According to the guide, 80% of the swamps and rivers in Palawan still consists of crocodiles.
The tour at the Crocodile Farm ended in two ways – the farm with the ostriches and a picture taking opportunity with baby crocodiles.
We chose to go picture taking and Ate Leidy and Ate Cath had their pictures taken with a baby crocodile – of course I didn’t, I hate crocodiles and their skin. I did stand on the sides of their pictures though.
After our very educational trip in the Crocodile Farm (sorry, now known as Palawan Wildfire Rescue and Conservation Center), we were supposed to head straight to the Butterfly Farm, but unfortunately, since it was already 5pm, it was closed. Too bad, I missed the experience.
Anyway, we were headed next to two of the biggest tourist spots in Palawan – Rancho Sta. Monica and Baker’s Hill which were situated right alongside each other. The place is located above a hill that was so steep that we had to get off our ride to help the tricycle get inside. The road going up the hill didn’t seem as if it was getting any higher, but we were proved wrong once we reached the top.
Rancho Sta. Monica is NOT a ranch – not the kind you’re probably thinking of anyway. It’s a huge lot, owned by former Philippine Congressman Ramon Mitra, with one of the most awesome views I have ever seen. The lot was sided by a plant farm, near the entrance and cohabited a mansion in the middle. What tourists come for was the lot’s wild field that provides a mind-blowing view of Palawan’s forests, lakes and city. Mysteriously, in the middle of the huge Bougainvillea decorated field that sloped along with the mountains and surrounded by the ranch-like small fence (like the ones in any farm – so cool!), was an enormous, dramatically towering tree that reminded me of the movie “Eternity” where the lovers met at a beautiful solo tree that draped over an overlooking view.
We stayed awhile, just lazing under the slightly setting sun that didn’t burn our skins anymore, the cool breeze and the many photo opportunities around the ranch. There was no electricity anymore in the mansion and no one lived in it, except probably for the caretaker. Story says, that the Mitra family had bought the place for a very cheap price somewhere in the early 90s. Then they got tired of the place (I mean, how could you get tired of the place?), and moved to Manila in the late 90s. Talk about lucky, right?
We left Rancho Sta. Monica with an empty and growling stomach and I wasn’t sure what I was in for next. Imagine my surprise when I took a wonderful trip down memory lane in Baker’s Hill.
Baker’s Hill is a huge place devoted to baked goods – but more to that it’s a playground. The entrance to the place is through a small door that was hounded by tables of souvenir shops. From the outside, you can’t see anything, so when I entered Baker’s Hill, I was shocked.
The place looked like my imagination of Disneyland. There were statues of Donald Duck and Mickey and Minnie, even Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs; there were other statues of funny characters and really cool images. There were pretty architecture and gorgeous gardens that surrounded the place – it was a mixture of comedic decorations and Disneyland.
Before we went inside the park though, we had a snack. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, or so, I thought. The food was average and the drinks took longer than 15 minutes to make (there was so many of us, and just one worker). After we had our snack, we trudged inside Baker’s Hill.
Inside the famous tourist spot, there was a playground for kids and a mini zoo that had pretty peacocks, birds and even an owl which reminded me of Hedwig of Harry Potter.
In the forefront of the place was a huge house with beautiful designs and a very interesting décor at the side which I hadn’t noticed till we had finished doing our rounds at the playground and zoo. It was a statue of a man who was aiming to climb the house – so cool. I also couldn’t help complimenting the cleanliness of the place – not just Baker’s Hill but Puerto Princesa City itself – the place was clean, people were practiced in cleaning up after themselves and it was nice how the people of Puerto Princesa valued the place.
What impressed me the most and took me back through time was the freshly baked bread, cakes, cupcakes and traditional goodies that they sold at their shop.
I have this favorite treat, it’s called Polvoron. I’m not sure how they make it, but I’ve tasted the original one when I was young and since then, I never got to taste it again – which is sad because it’s one of my favorite treats. Although there were Polvorons sold at Goldilocks or any candy store in Manila, it just wasn’t the same as the original one I’ve tasted before or the ones from Baker’s Hill. Unfortunately, I didn’t know it tasted like the original Polvoron, so I only bought one pack – which I’d finished within a week when I returned to Manila. If one day I return to Puerto Princesa, Baker’s Hill is definitely a place to go back to. If you’re going to Baker’s Hill, make sure to try their Polvoron – and don’t forget to bring a few packs back for me.
After Baker’s Hill, we couldn’t really go anywhere else as it was late already so we asked Kuya Allan to bring us back to Audissie’s.
We walked to the public market which was just a few blocks down from where we were staying and did some souvenir shopping. Ate Cath wasn’t going to be around the next day so she needed to buy stuff for herself and for her family that night.
We had dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant and although it wasn’t the best restaurant we were supposed to go to, we were able to taste their food – which wasn’t very tasty at all, anyway.
It was an awesome day. It had been my dream to tour Puerto Princesa and to have done that, I was practically beaming myself out of my jaws. We got back to the hotel at about 8pm – too early to go to bed, so we walked down the streets to Puerto Princesa Baywalk which was beautiful and quite not like Manila’s Baywalk. The baywalk had a lot of kids playing around, there were vendors surrounding, but not too much and there were children selling Chicharon (heated pork, if I’m correct) which we bought and munched on as we took pictures. Unlike Manila, the baywalk in Puerto Princesa felt safer and had better breeze. I’ve been to the baywalk in Manila and it smelled like water and pollution and dust and all that. But in Puerto Princesa Baywalk, the soft breeze smelled like fresh air and the smell of ocean air was really refreshing compared to Manila’s. Being in Puerto Princesa – it’s like a lifetime away from all the pollution and crap of Manila.
Here are our expenses:
Audissie’s Pension (1st night) P1200 (Family Room)
Audissie’s Pension (2nd night) P800 (Double room)
PPS City Tour P500 (3pax)
Entance Fees P30
Dinner at a Vietnamese Restaurant P150
Kalui Restaurant P300
Transportation (from market to Audissie’s Pension) P30