Monday, March 07, 2005

"To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries."
The above quote by Aldous Huxley is very accurate. I have to admit I had some apprehensions about going to Palawan. Due to all the negative publicity and travel advisories circulating in the newspapers, I was concerned about my safety. But I'm glad I went and saw with my own eyes just how beautiful Palawan is! I had a great time but now I'm exhausted. Our itinerary was very hectic. So let me start from the beginning. (while it is still fresh in my mind)

Day 1 (Friday, March 4)
  • 05:30 am - woke up, showered, had breakfast, last minute packing.

  • 07:00 am - went to the Manila domestic airport.

  • 07:30 am - checked in our luggage. For the first time in my traveling life I actually packed light. Yes sure I know it is only 2 days but still you get my point.

  • 09:15 am - all comfy in 12F, (window seat) on flight 213 of Air Philippines bound for Puerto Princesa. Slight delay but we finally shove off at 09:35 am. I'm thankful it was a bigger plane than a 24 seater. I love to fly but small planes make me very nervous!

    Air Philippines flight 213

  • 10:20 am - we land at Puerto Princesa airport and driven to our hotel, The Legend Hotel Palawan which is located about 5 minutes away, right in the heart of the city.

  • 11:00 am - after meeting with Judy Ann, the Tours manager, who briefed us about our itinerary during our stay, we finally went to our room (219) to freshen up, unpack and sort out what to wear for our island hopping tour.

    Room 219, The Legend Hotel

  • 12:15 pm - we go to their only restaurant, Tanglaw Coffee Shop for our lunch. Buffet style. We were a bit disappointed that they didn't serve more seafood dishes especially since it was a Lenten Friday and we usually abstain from eating meat. So we just had to forego that tradition and made sure we had enough food to sustain us for our gruelling tour ahead.

  • 13:00 pm - with smiles pasted on our faces, our tummies full we were excited about our Honda Bay island Tour while waiting at the lobby for the other guests who would join us.

    Hotel Lobby

  • 13:10 pm - we are on our way to the Sta Lourdes pier which is the drop off point. We are joined by Herman, our guide a very affable young guy who dishes out bits of information about Puerto Princesa City as well as the barangays along the way. Also on the van with my sister and I were a newly wed couple (A 60 year old British guy with his ehem 21 year old Pinay bride) who are on their honeymoon and a grandfather (American) with his 2 young grandsons. By the way I saw a lot of them old foreigners with their very young Pinay wives. So although I cringe at the thought I believe it is quite common in the rural areas. Oh well, not for me to judge!

  • 13:45 pm - we finally reach the Sta Lourdes pier. We board this boat and our island cruise begins. The weather was just right, the sun was shining but it wasn't very hot, the wind was pleasant and the deep blue waters of the Sulu sea provided us a picturesque backdrop. The area is known as Honda Bay and it is peppered with many islands ranging in size from the diminutive "Luli" (lulubog-lilitaw) to the largest, Fondeado Island.

    Bat Island
    home of thousands of large flying fox bats.

    Pandan Island
    Pandan Island
    home to the largest island based fishing community in the bay.

    Bantay Dagat Headquarters aka Bay watch

  • 14:25 pm - we reach Snake Island which is so named because of its curvilinear 13 kms stretch of white sand beach. With cottages lining the shore. We were given life jackets, towels and snorkeling goggles. I am not a swimmer so I don't really soak in the beach. I prefer to go walking and explore the sandbar, look for seashells as well as think and reflect.

    Snake Island

  • 16:30 pm - we leave and head back to the pier cruising along the same path albeit a bit darker from basking in the sun.

    Fondeado Island

  • 18:00 pm - finally get back to the hotel, showered (hot water) and dressed for dinner.

  • 19:00 pm - this time just me and my sister are driven to a local restaurant called "Sari's Barrio". A nipa hut setting with dim lights and very provincial. We feast on seafood kare kare, baby clam soup, buko (coconut) chop suey with rice. Refreshing ice tea. And crunchy banana turon for dessert. The food was tasty, the ambiance rustic. Perfect way to end a long day.

  • 20:00 pm - back in the hotel, totally exhausted but still very hyper! I took another hot shower which is one thing I really enjoy when I stay in hotels. Hot Water! Prepared our stuff for the next day since we needed to be ready by 7:00 am. Yes! Arghh that early!

  • 22:00 pm - zzzzz away in dreamland.

  • Stay tuned for part 2 ... To be continued.

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