Hi I'm Jumblejan and I'm Vin's guest blogger for The World Behind My Wall. The trip to Palawan was my first trip out of Luzon. My friend Vin & I and my travel plush dog boarded the plane to Palawan 21 Aug 2010. After taking souvenir photos at the airport & checked in to the apartelle, we asked the front desk for a ride to take us to the port for a Honda Bay/3-island hopping tour so we can get a headstart on enjoying Puerto Princesa.
Day 1 - Honda Bay
We waited for over an hour to get a boat & there were around 12 of us in the boat. Our first stop was Pandan Island. The island though not too big has powdery soft sand & has some cottages for rent. At the time there were a lot of people going on tour so most of the cottages were occupied with the vacationers cooking lunch. One could also have food cooked for them by the people who rented out the cottages.
As we have two more islands to visit & it was getting late, we only had an hour or so to wade in the water & take some photos, including one of me looking scared of a starfish. (I didn't know what I was thinking or maybe it's just my imagination, but what was running through my mind was that that little, bitty starfish is gonna eat me. Stupid, huh?)
Next, we visited Snake Island. It was a long stretch of island where numerous mangroves grew. Vin & I walked towards the longer end, picking sand dollars along the way. At one point, Vin while he sets up the tripod to take some pics, asked me if the dark rain clouds over the horizon will reach us soon, I told him maybe not for a while. My mistake. Not three minutes later, we felt raindrops & we hurried to cover our stuff. I had my backpack under my life vest, Vin did the same & we made out way back to the boat.
Because of the rain, the trip to the third island was cancelled.
Day 2 - Underground River
We woke up early for the early pick up to go to the famous Puerto Princesa Underground River. There were 2 other groups in the van with us. We had a very entertaining guide. She went to her script in full on English, she was really very informative & very good & made us laugh with her jokes & broken English. I forgot her name though. Sorry.
Our first stop was the mangrove forest in Sabang. If I'm not mistaken we paid around P100 per person to go through the mangrove forest in a paddle boat. It was managed by the Mangrove Paddle Boat Tour Guide Association Inc. Our guide even sang for us about preserving the mangroves. According to Vin, she joined some singing contest on TV, though I can't remember which one it was. Hehehe.
We saw birds, snakes (which made my skin crawl!) sleeping/hanging on to branches overhead, snails, fishes, and lizards. Thankfully, no alligators. It was a fun, quiet ride. Midway through the ride, our boatman anchored the boat to some trees & looked for Tamiloks or shipworms found in rotting mangrove trees. Tamiloks are a local delicacy & are eaten raw, ceviche-style, or kilawin style in Tagalog. My friend tried it & said it tasted of wood. Hahahaha.
After a rainy stop at the mangrove forest, we had lunch then continued on to the Sabang Pier to wait for a boat to take us to the Underground River. Since it had been raining on & off that day, we bought transparent garbage bags to use as makeshift raincoats. I used mine to protect my bag since I was already wet. The boat ride to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River toook around 30-45 minutes. Despite the rains, there were a lot of people going there judging by the many boats leaving the pier.
When we got to the entry point to the PPUR, we stopped at a group of huts to huddle & seek shelter from the rain which poured all its might when we got there. While waiting for our turn to go take a ride, we signed some logbooks & showed our IDs as protocol for everybody going there. One of the things we signed is the petition to include the PPUR as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, which was ongoing at the time.
As soon as we entered the cave, our guide went on to his spiel, & I must say, he was very, very good! I think all of them should be after taking thousands of visitors on a tour inside the PPUR.
The boatman was like, "please point the light to your left" & the imbecile pointed to his right, & I was like, "your other right, moron!" If I had not been seated at the back & would have had to step over a few people to get to the imbecile, I would have wrenched the light from him & throttled him with it! The boatman laughed at my irritated comments as he helplessly told the guy where to point the light.
The formations were really nice, as if they were sculpted by hand. We weren't allowed to touch the formations though. Everywhere you look was awesome, at least wherever the light-holding moron managed to shine the light on an interesting formation, everything was beautiful.
After that trip, in my mind, I placed a big, fat check on my imaginary bucket list. PPUR, done!
We took a few souvenir photos of the mouth of the cave, our boatmen, said our thanks to them & headed off to meet our other boatment to take us back to Sabang Pier. We even managed to have a few jumpshots before we boarded our boat.
My legs were already feeling crampy by then so I was a bit fearful that I might not be able to walk/get off the boat properly. And I was right, I had to be helped out of the boat by the American boyfriend of our co-passenger. Fail!
Dinner that night was at the local Vietnamese place. Food was nice & warm & delicious. My first foray into Vietnamese food.
Day 3 - Baker's Hill/Shopping
On our last day in Puerto Princesa, we decided on visiting Baker's Hill. We did not go to the Mitra Farm, just because we did not want to! We had a fun time taking silly pictures at Baker's Hill & buying their famous Hopia. We also visited the historic Immaculate Conception Cathedral. It was blue & white & very pretty.
After a light lunch we went shopping for 'I've been there' t-shirts & local delicacies. Then we went to the airport to return to Manila.
In all, aside from the rain & the light-holding imbecile, the trip was a wonderful experience & an opportunity for me to see one of the numerous wonders our country offers. I thank my friend Vin for persuading me to accompany him on that trip.