Puerto Princesa – The Last Frontier
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We did this trip when airline low-fare promos was not yet a hype and online blogging about beautiful places in the Philippines was just about to begin. In short, we have very little guidance about where to go and what to do at Palawan. This was our first “solo” flight as husband and wife and with the kiddos at home, we prayed for no other but a safe return.
We arrived at Puerto Princesa with an untimely headache and a trickle of rain. At the airport, maps, tour brochures and hotel listings are available for the tourists. We chose White View Paradise Hotel being the most affordable at that time. We rode a trike to the hotel, settled in and had my headache rest. It was near noon when we went out for lunch and a City Tour. We rented a trike for P400 to bring us around the city and the driver served as our tour guide providing firsthand information about the beautiful places of Puerto Princesa.
On our way to the city proper, we stopped by a small eatery with a Vietnamese chaolong noodle soup. We had it for lunch and was just right for my headache and the rain.
The first stop was the crocodile farm – thankfully the rain subsided. The sight of Thump Peak at the highway made me dream of returning for a climb. At the crocodile farm, there were less than 10 tourists so it was like a one-on-one tour with the farm curator.
Next stop was the butterfly garden. And wow, it felt like Eden being the only tourist around. After the butterfly garden, we continued with the tour around the city proper – the church, cuartel, museum, city hall, etc. Before heading back to the hotel, we dropped by the market and the grocery for some wine, chips, and toiletries.
For our dinner, we went to Badjao Restaurant, the famous restaurant visited by Prince Andrew. We tried ‘tamilok’ as appetizer and garlic buttered crab and grilled tuna for the main course. Yummy!!! That was actually where my husband derived his version of ‘garlic buttered crab’.
After dinner, we planned for a baywalk stroll but the area was still closed to tourist for construction. Between a partying and sleep, I opted for the latter so we returned to the hotel, enjoyed the wine while watching an old movie.
Thanks to our yesterday driver we learned of the cheapest route to the Underground River. We were up early to catch the first trip of the bus bound to Sabang. After several stops of loading cargoes and a bumpy horsey-like ride, we reached Sabang before lunch time. We were happy that the tourism system of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park was well in place so need to haggle for the cheapest boat or even plead for longer time or stay... We paid P600 that includes already the boat ride and underground river tour. The boat can accommodate a max of 6 persons but with no other tourist to share, it looked like a private tour.
We had lunch at Sabang first before we commenced our tour. Then at the underground river we waited for awhile for the other tourists to finish. During our turn, the park was all ours. All we heard were the resounding droplets of water, our guide's voice and the fluttery heart beat. Mixed emotions filled me, some of danger but mostly of the awesomeness of the place. But overall, the experience and the enigmatic feelings while surrounded by a vast rock was amazing -- truly a nature's gift.
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River
Sabang also have inns for those who opted to stay overnight. Too late to know, we left our luggage at the hotel, so with heavy trod we rode the last trip back to the city proper.
For hotel availability and rates around Palawan, check this link.
From the hotel we rode a trike to the city market for our trip to Lourdes Pier at Barangay Sta. Lourdes, the jump-off of the Honda Bay tour. Again, tourism system was already in place taking charge of your boat and island hopping needs. We chose to hop at the Starfish, Pandan and Snake Islands. It was at Snake Island that we had our lunch and the rest of the afternoon. For our lunch, we grilled a big fish offered by a locals fresh from the sea. We originally had no plans of swimming but the water teemed with different fishes and the beautiful corals was irresistible. We also enjoyed feeding the fishes, the sight of fishes battling for a morsel of bread was one of natural survival instinct.
By 3pm, we called it off and headed back to the wharf. We had a great day and looking forward to revisit this with the kiddos.
Our flight back to Manila was scheduled at 1030am. With little time left, we just went to the market for some take home loots.
For a detailed map reference, visit the Puerto Princesa Map website or Open Street Map.
|puerto princesa map|
Travel Date: August 2006