“We’re here!” I say, in a rather exasperated, desperate form of words that only comes after 4 hours of rough-road riding in an old, open window beat-down jeep/bus from Puerto Princesa.
I skipped a step off the stairs of the bus and landed uneven on the paved road. I patted my curly hair, and even if I had tied it into a bun, it was now a frizzy mess, my baby hair all over my forehead.
I sighed, blowing strands off my eyes.
We were officially in San Vicente, Palawan.
Four hours off the city of Puerto Princesa is the secluded town of San Vicente.
Mysterious, but known for its 14km long beach, San Vicente had been a dream destination of mine. So, in July, right after leaving the company I used to love, I headed onto an adventure of a lifetime.
When Josiah said the road was rough, we didn’t really think it would be this rough. But it was. By the time we reached the tiny, sleepy town of San Vicente, the fresh air, the familiar breeze from the nearby ocean and the subtle heat of the 4pm sun was all too welcoming.
My friend, Yoshke and I dropped our bags in a cheap, but basic hostel – Picardal Lodge.
At Php 400 for a room for 2, I was pretty satisfied with the wooden cottage we got. It had two single beds, free towel, but the bathroom was big and pretty decent too.
We immediately went out after to walk around the small town, heading to the Tourism office, then finding an ihaw-ihaw (barbecue) place where we bought some food.
Yoshke and I bought some fishball and veggie balls and sat in the beautiful park right next to the wharf.
For a small town, the wharf and its park was absolutely fascinating.
An afternoon of simplicity was all we need to end the day.
Our tour of San Vicente didn’t come until the next day. We woke up early, planning initially to tour the beaches for half day, until 2pm, at least, before heading out to Port Barton. However, the schedule of the boats (este, I mean, boat) to Port Barton can be pretty unreliable as it is only driven by one woman – whenever she chooses to sail.
The tourism officer advised us to be back by noon.
For Php 500, Yoshke and I headed out with a motorbike driver to the long beach of San Vicente.
Despite the fact that Long Beach is known to be one of the longest beaches in the Philippines at 14km, dare I say that it might be a little stretched out. The long beach is actually a collection of numerous beaches aligned one after the other.
Under the hot, 10am sun, we ventured out to see this famous beach. I was in the middle of the driver and Yoshke, but my poor, poor, bare shoulders, peaking out from my razorback shirt bore the heat of the sun, as I was to discover a few hours later.
Pristine, fine sands met us at almost every beach, the clear blue waters rushing into shore. I had just come from a trip to Bicol a few days before, but there is nothing like the sound of waters on a beautiful beach.
The air was fresh. The coconut tress swung softly to the light morning ocean breeze. The shores were wide and long. The sand was beautifully clean and glowed in the sun. There was nothing along the beach, except for some fishing boats and houses. The beaches were completely empty. It was beautiful.
The last beach we did was the Irawan Beach. Yoshke had seen a picture of the beach in Edgar‘s blog and fell in love with it.
Naturally, as free-spirited, unusually crazy March 6-born people, Yoshke and I ventured out into the beautiful beach of Irawan, looking to find a hill to climb at 11-freakin-am, just to get that perfect shot of the entire beach.
We walked to the end of the beach. At first, we thought it didn’t look that far. But as we walked on, our feet naturally digging into the soft sand and the beach edging into high knolls and valleys as the sand proved itself to be like some kind of sand dunes, without the water-free-zone.
Challenged and drought by the time I reached the end, I was way ahead of Yoshke, mostly because the sun was seriously killing my
porcelain skin and I really just wanted to get to the end.
It turns out the waters from the ocean seeped at the end into a river on the other side. And with the house being build at the top of the hill, we could tell this was where Edgar had taken his shot.
Slowly, we climbed up the hill, with no apparent trail and the grass as slippery for my poor newly given Havaianas. I have poor coordination so I had to make sure I didn’t stumble, held onto grass or trees as much as I could, in order to stabilize myself and prevent a Humpty Dumpty part 2.
From the top of the hill (or as high as we could), the beach was beautiful. The sand was white, it wasn’t commercialized and from where I stood, the waves didn’t look as scary or big as it did when I watched it from the beach.
Sweating from the early morning hike up, we rested awhile before taking some pictures. I could feel drops of sweat running down my back and my neck. But I didn’t care.
At that moment, all I needed was that view:
“I think we can go now,” I say softly to Yoshke after some time.
I breathed deeply, in an attempt to save the fresh air of Irawan Beach one last time in my lungs before heading back down.