“Wow,” I say as I stepped off the plane. I looked around. It was all trees everywhere except for that small establishment where the aircraft faced. I breathed and it was fresh air, a surprising change from the usual Manila air. I walked down the ramp and smiled at the huge sign that said “Puerto Princesa Airport” I was in Puerto Princesa. Alone. For the first time. 3 years ago, I didn’t know this experience would mold me to who I am today.
On our last night in Palawan, we ate at one of the most unique restaurants I’ve ever been to – The Kalui Restaurant. At the façade, the restaurant looks pretty normal – actually, it looks quite dark with the lack of streetlights in Puerto Princesa, except for the numerous tricycle drivers on wait outside. I honestly didn’t consider the place to be anything special. And then… we took a step inside. The night before, we had already been asking about Kalui. I didn’t know much about it – or more than Ate Leidy did, but apparently, reservations are highly recommended because the place is packed almost every night. That night, was no different. We had arrived at the restaurant without a reservation and we were slightly nervous that we wouldn’t be able to get a table. Lucky for us, a couple was about to make their exit in about 10 minutes so we decided to wait. Normally, I’d be very pissed off and impatient because I was quite hungry at that time. But from the look outside – I was curious. I wanted to know why there were so many people and see for myself what the big deal was about this place. We waited outside – 10 minutes, as stated by the waiter, before we were escorted inside to
Our last day in Puerto Princesa was our last island hopping in Palawan – a tour at Honda Bay, Puerto Princesa’s main islands. We were up as early as 6am so we could set off at 7am. Our flight was at 4pm so we only had a few hours to make do of our last day. To go to Honda Bay, we rode a tricycle with Kuya Allan and then booked a boat at the Brgy. Sta. Lourdes Tagbanua which is the jump off point for the Honda Bay tour. I rented my snorkel gear and we bought some bread to feed off fish. We were only scheduled for 4 places because time was limited, still I was excited. The first island we went to was Pandan Island – which was a gorgeous developed island with lots of huts and flagpoles and snorkeling as the main activity. Pandan Island was also a family island. Even at the early island hopping hours of 8am, there were already a few boats around the island. We did get to solo the beach for some time though and do a bit of good snorkeling. In fact, the marine life here was very healthy and our tour guide, although not as friendly as Kuya Jake and Kulits, he was an amazing swimmer and he was
The next day, February 22, 2010 – our 2nd to the last day in Palawan, we had two choices, either we go to Dos Palmas or to the Underground River. I chose Underground River because it’s been one of my dreams to go there. This trip to the Underground River supposedly should’ve been done while we were headed to go back to Puerto Princesa instead of the city tour but our plans were ruined, learning of P. Arroyo’s visit the next day and we couldn’t find a private van on a reasonable rate. Ate Cath was leaving at 8am for Manila while Ate Leidy and I were bound for Sabang. The ride to Sabang took about 2 hours from Puerto Princesa – a little bumpy but more so very provincial, most parts are forest. We stopped at the beautiful Buenavista View Deck, they had a restroom and lots of souvenir stores plus an amazing view of Palawan’s forest and seas. We were there for only about 30 minutes before we headed off to the Sabang port where all boats leading to the Underground River had been parked. By the way, we had to go with a tour package because it was the only way we were able to get into the Underground River since it was going to be a
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
We woke up at about 5am I think, a bit late for our van ride which was to leave at 6am. We quickly packed our bags and walked a little out of the inn until a tricycle stopped for us. It was really sad leaving El Nido, but I guess it was time. Within 5 minutes, we were at the Poblacion terminal where the vans and buses leave. Unfortunately, the van we were supposed to ride in was full – well, actually, not really, we could’ve easily taken our places with them but some people had already reserved their seats the night before. So, instead of waiting around and ruin our itinerary, we took the bus. Yes, the public, open air bus that probably isn’t the best choice especially if you have nice, soft hair. The bus ride takes about 6-7 hours from El Nido to Puerto Princesa, less if they only had less stops. Our first stop was at a junction in Roxas with carinderias and dirty bathrooms. By the time we had stopped there, my hair was like dirty strands of broom and I had to tie my hair just to keep it from being damaged more. We ate lunch at the stopover and the bus arrived about 30 minutes later so we were already late. I don’t