Dreamy City: Puerto Princesa

Travel gives me time to think about a lot of things. Not only does it give me an escape, it actually is my form of recovery. I haven’t planned a lot of trips this year, which I regret, because this year has been such a drag for me. Life hasn’t been very good, but hey, I’m not complaining. I’m still thankful for all the lessons I learned and continue to learn. Anyway, this post is not about that. This one’s about the most beautiful island in the world – Palawan.

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It’s a shame that during the first time I went to Puerto Princesa, I didn’t really get to discover it since it was for work. But this time, we did all touristy things so even though it’s my second time, the experiences are a first. On our first day, we did the usual city tour – visiting the Crocodile and Butterfly farms, Mitra Ranch and Baker’s Hill. We also tried the famous chicken in Ka Inato – which I googled, but found that the chicken was normal and that nothing beats the chicken inasal in Bacolod. Hehe. Hands down!

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I wasn’t much into the city tour because I’ve already seen the places during my first time. What I was most excited about was what we did on our second and third day – visiting the Underground River and island hopping in Honda Bay.

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From the city proper, it took us about one hour and a half to reach Sabang Port. By the way, we booked our tours through El Mundo Travel and Tours and they gave us a really kind tour guide. Her name is Ate May. Anyway, from Sabang Port, it was another five minute boat ride going to the jump off point going to the Underground River. During the trip, Ate May reminded us to be wary of the monkeys since they tend to steal stuff from you, especially food, when you forget that you’re not supposed to show food to them. Although as I’ve seen, they were friendly and were kind of used to the tourists flocking in their habitat – so they put on a show.

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The Underground River is eight kilometers long, but tourists are only allowed to explore one and a half kilometers of it since as I remember, it may take four hours just to go back and forth that eight kilometers. I volunteered to sit in front of the boat to hold the flashlight for our tour group. Thought it was easy, but it wasn’t. Can’t multi-task! Our boatman, Kuya Arjay/RJ, was very funny. Inside the underground river, you’ll see vegetable formations, even the nativity and a big, big candle. What’s really cool is that it didn’t feel boring at all, Kuya Arjay/RJ was really, really funny. Overall, the trip took 45 minutes, fare enough to earn the bragging rights of being able to visit one of the 7 wonders of the world. It’s beautiful isn’t it?

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We had lunch after the tour and went straight to Ugong Rock since members of our tour group wanted to try the zipline. I wasn’t into it at first because I wanted to sleep, but when I heard from Ate May that the zipline is the fastest in the Philippines, it was an immediate yes!

Before trying out the zipline, we had to go cave spelunking at Ugong Rock. Did you know why it’s called Ugong Rock? They said it’s because when you tap the rocks, you hear somewhat of an echo or ugong in Filipino. Cave spelunking was no joke, it was a challenge. We had to pass through tight spaces and climb steep stairs before getting to the top. Not to mention, it rained a little, so it was a bit muddy and slippery – extra challenge for us!

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Now on to the highlight of my trip – the zipline! It was the best spur of the moment decision I made. I’m not much of an adrenaline junkie because I still get scared of heights and fast rides (who doesn’t?) but I tell you, that was the best 21 seconds of my life. Screaming on top of my lungs, letting it all out, was the best! I loved every second of it. If I could, I’d do it again. It was so freeing, like all my emotions ran out of the open (OA). Like I said, best.decision.ever!

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We went island hopping in Honda Bay the next day. From the hotel, it was roughly a 30 minute ride to the jump-off point. Ate May went with us to Isla Pandan, Luli Island and Cowrie Island. I wanted to go to Snake Island because I’ve seen from pictures that it looked so pretty, but Ate May said it was closed for maintenance and renovation. Still, the islands we went to were beautiful. I love the beach, the sun and sea! And oh, the boatmen doing the tours are the most awesome photographers in the world! Kuya Michael, our boatman, took most of my beautiful pictures. He’s even better than me! I can’t even take a decent jump shot of people but look, just one jump then click then boom! If you’re doing the Honda Bay tour, don’t forget to give your boatmen tips, they’re very kind! And it’s a good way of helping the locals, one way of showing them your appreciation.

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After the island hopping tour, we went straight to buy pasalubongs for everyone. Mommy, Mama and Ninang went crazy over the pearls, while I am just roaming around doing all sorts of thinking. Just a way of figuring things out. Hehe. During this trip, I continued to appreciate the beauty of the Philippines. It’s so beautiful and it really is a shame that some choose to explore other countries more rather than explore the Philippines which is why this year, I’ve made it a point to just visit local destinations. With 7,107 islands, there’s a lot to choose from! In Palawan alone, there’s so much to discover!

We ended our Puerto Princesa trip with the itch to go back. Next time, we will really go to Dos Palmas and finally make time to see the beautiful islands in El Nido. Palawan is such a beauty everyone. I won’t disagree if everyone who visited it would tell you they’d love to come back.

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