Thursday, August 2, 2007
The last time I visited the Philippines I went to Boracay, an island resort in the middle of the country. It was pretty much the most laid back place on earth. If you want to just relax, party at night, wake up with a morning swim in the blue water then go to Boracay. On this visit I went to Palawan which is a little more of an adventure, or can be.
Palawan is a pretty huge island, it makes up the western arm of the Philippines. The nice thing about Palawan is a lot of the island is virgin land. There's a lot more to see there than the beautiful beaches and coral. There are subteranean caves, lush jungles and limestone cliffs. There's a couple of ways to see Palawan. For something like a honeymoon where you'd want to relax and be secluded, the best thing to do would be to charter a flight to El Nido and check in at the resorts there. It would be like Boracay but in isolation and there are secret coves and beaches that you can kayak to.
To see more of the island I would backpack it. First you fly into Puerto Princessa and from there travel up to El Nido. There's a couple of things to see around Puerto Princessa, Dos Palmas Resort is on an island in Honda Bay. Its named Dos Palmas because there were two palm trees which dominated the island. You could see them as you aproach the island by boat. One of the trees has since died so the name doesn't quite make sense anymore. Dos Palmas is pretty nice, they just recently rebuilt some bungalows. Its also the site of the infamous Abu Sayef kidnappings a while back. Now there's a detachment of Filipino Marines on the island. The Legend Hotel is building a resort on nearby Pandan Island, so Dos Palmas won't be the only all inclusive resort in Honda Bay. There are a lot of tour outfits that will take you island hopping on Honda Bay. We went with Elaine's Travel and Tour. When you land at the airport you'll get a bunch of fliers about what tour companies are in town and what tours are offered. Just find their flier and call them. Our tour guide Donna was great, see if she's available when you go down there. The good thing about Honda Bay is its close to Puerto Princessa so you can fly in on the widebodies, go to Dos Palmas or the new resort and fly back to Manila.
At night there are a few nice restaurants in puerto Princessa. I ate at Kalui's and Badjao Seafront. Kalui's translates to Brother Lui, and its pretty nice. Order the Kalui special, its a full course meal. Its Filipino style dining, you can sit on chairs or on the floor and you have to take your shoes off because they have a bamboo floor. The blue marlin in mango sauce is also really good. Badjao Restaurant is a floating restaurant, its built on a platform over some mangroves so during high tide the restaurant is floating over the water. Really nice place and very romantic with the open air, candles and tropical flowers. You have to convince a tricycle guy to bring you out there and bring you back since its on the shore in the outskirts of the city. 150 pesos should cover it. Make sure to tell the guy to take you to Badjao Seafront because there's also a Badjao Hotel in the city. Badjao means seafront. Hopefully your tricycle has a nice bike because there is a steep hill on the way out. Go to Badjao right before sunset so you can watch the sun go down over the water.
So after snorkeling in Honda Bay and watching the sunset over dinner, you'll probably be ready to quit your job and moved to Palawan but the trip hasn't started yet! We still have to travel from Puerto Princessa, which is in the middle of the island to El Nido on the northern tip. The best way to do it is either by bus or by motorcycle. You can take an air conditioned van, which is nice and air conditioned, but I think you'll absorb much more of the island on the Bus or on a bike. The bus or most probalby a stretched out jeepney is probably the cheapest way to get around, but it makes frequent stops to pick up more people and is going to get really crowded. A bike would be ideal. You would need a pretty tough and reliable enduro or dual sport and an iron butt because half the road isn't paved. But on a bike you can stop whenever you want and there's no glass between you and the island. Since we're going on a one way trip you'll either have to arrange for it to be either shipped back, ridden back or sell it.
The first stop from Puerto Princessa is Sabang Beach on the western shore of Palawan. Its about 3-4 hours away and there are a couple of secluded beaches there and of course the undeground river. The underground river stretches for about 5 kilometers and is a little bit spooky, since there's bats there and its pitch black. Saband is probably a good place to stay the night since there are some bungalows for rent right next the water.
The next leg of the trip is from Sabang Beach to Port Barton and from there to El Nido. Thats the part I haven't seen so I'm curious to see. Going by boat is also an option since these places are on the South China Sea side of Palawan instead of the Sulu Sea side. From there we can catch a flight back out.
So anyway get your malaria and tetnus shots and we'll put a crew together. We need at least one qualified medical person. The best time to go would probably be December or April, outside of the rainy season.
>On 2007-08-03,13:22:12 SKubomoto wrote:
>>Where do I sign up? I can do the medical stuff. I've been getting plenty of experience taking care of diarrhea and vomiting patients the last several weeks.
>On 2007-08-09,01:10:31 Blaise wrote:
>>Haha how about I set up an evite.