Sunday, July 29, 2007

Puerto Princesa

Sunday, headed home

It was our last day in Palawan, we stayed at Casa Linda. Like any other day I woke up early before sunrise. It rained all night. I went up the street to take a pic of the main road. It is pretty site, with big Acacia Trees at both sides of the road with their canopies sprawling towards its center. 

We went for pasalubong shopping at the market. We bought cashews. And I bought a bunch of sea foods that will be cooked athome. Though I love fish, I’m not good with names, and occasionally their already cooked when I eat them, so I really don't know what they look like when raw. I just asked the vendor for which is which. I ended up buying maya-maya and lapu-lapu, as requested by my father. I also bought prawns and small lobsters/crawfish. Palawan is known for sea foods, especially crabs. I'm allergic to them, but sometimes when it's really fresh I don't get an itch.  I had them all packed in a box at the market for an amount which I'm not sure if it’s cheap or not, and I also had to pay for the labor. What I know is that the seafood are cheaper here than in Manila.  

With few hours left, we hurried to the airport only to learn that with our heavy baggage, there are no trolleys available. And besides the airport is in need of renovation, it's near dilapidation. It's ironic that the government is pushing on with tourism, but they have neglected the main gateway to the areas they so called "WOW" places. My father even told me that the air force was the one who built the runway, is he telling me that the airport or part of it, is that old?! They just had to rebuild or renovate it.

We're looking forward to going home and seeing our families, but part of us wanted to stay longer, in my case, I wanted to "live" there. 

All in all, we celebrated our birthdays in a fun new way, discovered new places, met new people, learned about lives, friendships forged and fears conquered. I've heard somewhere that a real traveler has no plans on where and when to arrive. I guess I'll be that for the rest of my life.

I've always love to be around nature, especially, tropical islands. My friend Grace and I dreamt of owning and managing our own island resort. Nothing's impossible. She always asks me to sketch up the plans. I can't blame if almost all the folks we talked with are not native of Palawan, I can't blame them, and it’s easy to fall in love with the place. I myself would do it, if ever there comes a time and opportunity. Living there is simple and stuff there is cheap and everything's fresh.

I would truly miss lazing at the beach. I'll miss dusting off the sand from my sandals. I'll miss the bright blue and also the rain clouds.

I'll miss the people and the food. I guess I will miss everything. It was a short trip but it was all worth it. Grace and I are both thankful that instead of giving us a slice of cake for our birthday, God gave us a slice of paradise. And it really tasted goooood. 

Saturday, July 28, 2007

San Vicente To Sabang

We went back to the resort gathered our stuffs, took the big boat and sailed for Sabang, where St. Paul's Underground River is located. It's a tough 2 hours, the sea a bit rough. It's scary but it's an interesting trip. It's scenic all the way. We passed by several empty white beaches, with mountains rich with thick forests. In some parts the shores are cladded with sharp almost black lime rocks. It looks pre-historic; they are formed diagonally as if they were awakening from the depths of the ocean. Unlike the ones at Coron and El Nido, the lime rock formations are vertical. The boat trip is such an adventure, it's almost like we were surfing the waves, surrounded by dark almost black waters. It's a humbling experience. At one point, the skies casted rain on our left part, while on the right, half was sunny with fluffy clouds. It reminded me of the "The Mummy" movie, where they were chased by a cloud/body of water. I felt that as if we got to get across before that dark haunting cloud reaches us, but in the end we weren't able to escape it. We still got wet in the end.

Near Sabang, the islands are covered with long spans of golden beaches with beautiful coconut trees. I wonder if it's ok for me to built a hut there and call it home. We reached St. Paul’s Bay, and ran through the path towards the cave. I was caught off guard when Grace pointed me to the monitor lizards roaming around the path. 

The trail is in the middle of the jungle which opens to an emerald green pool of fresh and salt water which reaches out to sea. It smells bad because of the bat droppings. Actually, I was a bit hesitant in going in there. With helmets and life jackets, we entered a world new to us. Our guide was paddling our small boat. The water almost reached the rim of the boat. 

The rock formations inside is totally out of this world. Dark hard marble descends from above, with water dripping everywhere. The river is 9m deep, and our guide consoled us and said it was low tide so it’s only 8m. I said it didn't make any difference, it's still deep. He loved to joke. I love the vegetable section. And I like the main chamber, with a giant stalagmite shaped like a big candle. We also saw a big fresh water eel and a small shrimp with eyes aglow. The outer part of the cave is filled with bats and swiftlets (balinsasayaw). We also went to a canal they call Highway, due to the horizontal flat rock formations. 

Grace was quiet during the trip and confessed she didn’t like cave and she got a bit nauseated inside. At one point, we turned off all the lights, and it was pith black, awesome. Seeing the underground river is totally a great experience.

San Vicente Palawan Islands

Saturday, the Best Day

I woke early again to watch the sunrise, it's more beautiful now. The colors ranges from pink, orange, yellow, a bit of purple and bright blue skies. The island is so magnetic that we don't want to leave. 

We had our breakfast, Grace with pancakes and I had the home made bread which is really good. It is crusty on the outside and soft and dense on the inside. Kuya Abi, took us island hopping. He is actually a native of Ilocos. 

For our first island, we went to Exotic Island. Where little kids freely play and for them their beach is a common everyday thing. The sand is a bit grainy and has little shells. 

Then we went to Albaguen Island, an uninhabited beach. It has very fine white sand and the most beautiful turquoise water. I wished we could stay longer but we had limited time. 

Then we headed for Blue Cove, a beach resort still under construction. We had a chit-chat with the caretakers who aren't natives of Palawan. The old man is from Pasig and the bartender is from Cavite. I can't blame them, if they chose to live there. I myself can leave everything and migrate to a private island. They say everything is simple and cheap there.

 We continued our boat trip, we passed by Double/German Island owned by a German of course, which is a private resort. We weren't able to see Long Beach, the longest beach in the Philippines.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Cacnipa Island

Friday, Tarits' B'day

July 27, 2007

I woke early to catch the sunrise, even though it rained all night, I was hoping fro clear blue skies. The sunrise is in soft hues of orange, yellow and pink. I spent most of that morning walking barefoot on the sand which is still wet from the rain that evening. We decided to stay on the island and rescheduled our boat trip for the next day. Grace and I had a code name for the resort; we called it “secret destination/island". We have it all to ourselves. (Almost)

We met some folks there, two guys who are nephews of the owner, one is also an architect and one ECE.; the couple from Israel and a family who wasn’t dressed up for the islands, with long-sleeved shirts and denim pants. For breakfast, we hit the restaurant, I had scrambled eggs with veggies and Grace had the rice with onion and eggs. I had to share mine with her, because of the big food proportion. Then we hit the beach again, we're there all day. At sea or at the hammocks, we were really relaxing. It's is totally fun, just lazing around. From time to time my celfone would beep whenever there's signal. It's hard to get signals there, in a way it’s a good thing so no one can bother us. We were like ducks that day, one moment we're dry and one moment we're out at sea getting wet again. Lounging at the beach is awesome. We were just taking in everything or it's the opposite, we're letting the island take over us.

That afternoon, I went for a short siesta. It sometimes would rain hard. I remembered how fun was to bathe in the rushing rain so we headed for sea again. Before 6pm, we went discovered the other sides of the beach. To the far left are the interesting rock formations where we took lots of photos. I saw different creatures, one looks like a sea cockroach, a black spiny starfish and a big shell that smells bad. We even lounge and tried to drink beer with our acquaintances.

At dinner, we were surprised with the very big grilled fish. It tasted so good. Every time we ordered for food, it seems as if the serving gets bigger and bigger. After dinner, we watched TV, where I saw a big mouse climb up the TV box. A girl also saw it, and it crossed the room past her back. Everyone screamed and big laughter followed.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Port Barton To Cacnipa Island

Thursday, Grace's B'day

It's totally relaxing. The long trip was well worth it.We reached Puerto Princesa past 9 that Thursday morning. We rode a tricycle to San Jose Terminal and with luck on our side; we caught the trip to Port Barton, San Vicente. I've never saw such big jeep i my entire life, we literally have to stretch up our legs to reach the seat up front. 

The almost 4 hours trip is a feast for the eyes. It was a scenic tour through the never-ending concrete highway. The drop-off and pick-ups was a bit of a hassle, we're just all too excited to reach P.B. A portion of the road lies around the hills beside the sea. When we reached the junction, it gave us the feeling that we're near our destination but it's still 22 kms to Port Barton. It was rough road from then on. The ride itself is an adventure. We had a flat tire; it reminded me of race car drivers in the middle of a race. Our dinosaur jeep has its own crew; I wonder what Schumacher will  to say about that. Four to five men leaped out from the roof of the jeep, scurrying off and changing the big tire as if they were born with the skill, or let's just say they're all too familiar with the situation. Sometimes they would push or pull whatever it takes to gear up the engine.

We passed by 2 green rivers which takes out the uniqueness of Loboc and mountains covered with trees that seem to be untouched. At our right is the mountain wall covered with ferns and the ravine on our left. And who can forget about the muddied road covering a portion of the road. We drove along with the help of the crew not once but 4 times actually. The mud is deep; it reached up to mid of the big tires. It's too much suspense every time we ran over one. We almost got stuck on one; I was staring at the tire, as if it's rotating in pools of Wendy's Frostee. I was just really damn hungry that. I finally knew why the jeep has too be that "BIG".

At last we saw the view of the calm blue sea. We reached Port Barton past 3pm, at the time when almost all boatmen were at siesta or just had a big drinking party the night before. PB is surrounded by blue South China Sea and kissed with golden sands, sprinkled with coconut trees all around.  It's a quiet town in between Puerto Princesa and El Nido, and is also accessible via Sabang on the south. 

We shared a trip to Cacnipa Island with a couple from Israel. The 45 mins. boat trip was a breeze. We passed by several islands, some populated and mostly uninhabited. Tired and very hungry, we reached our island resort. It is quiet and almost empty just the way I liked it. The cream colored sandy beach is adorned with tall proud coconut trees. The native huts gathered along the further part of the resort. And now we're alive and feeling the island vibe. I love the lush green bermuda grass. 

With so much excitement, after taking our backpacks in our own private hut, we changed to our swim wears and ran towards the sea and lounge at the warm waters. It's totally relaxing. The long trip was well worth it. We decided to stay at the island and say El Nido can wait. The sand is fine, there are small crabs along shore playing hide and seek with us. The beach has very interesting geological features, vertical sharp lime rocks and round river stones. That night we ate pancit guisado, it's Grace's b'day; a Filipino thing for long life. And we enjoyed our meal with Calamansi juice. I jokingly asked the cook if she used a dozen, because it was too tangy, she said she only filled half of the glass with it. Yikes. Grace asked for sugar and I asked for more water. I guess they just knew we lack vit C. If you check out their menu, you'll be surprised that they offer Italian food and what's ironic is they don't have fresh seafood available. But we requested for them. What's an island without fresh seafood?