Travel 2014: El Nido and Puerto Princesa Palawan

El Nido

Now checking off my bucketlist: Puerto Princesa, Coron Palawan and now El Nido.

We stayed in the cozy house called Marikit Pensionne, which is just 3 minutes away from the beach where all the boatmen park their “tourist boats”.

El Nido offers 4 different tours (A,B,C,D). Ours was tour A and tour C. What I liked best was tour C which includes my favorite beaches which are not known to many and the other one is very hard to find. Nah, I’m just kidding but these two beaches are secret beach and hidden beach.

Most of the time, we were snorkeling with the fishes and swimming in the deep blue sea. But the fun part of the trip was the buffet lunch served by the boatmen. It was indeed the best seafood experience so far. Fruits were carved, designed to entice you and the grilled fish? Ooh lalala heaven in my mouth while you hear the relaxing sound of waves by the shore. It was indeed the best R&R.

We ended our trip in El Nido with a fun drinking session in our accommodation “Marikit Pensionne” on our second night.

IMG_4370

Next, Puerto Princesa City. We started of with a very early morning trip to the underground river. I have visited PPUR in 2011 and I know it’s not nice to say this, but there’s not much changes to see. But I would still recommend visiting PPUR for the first timers.

Moving on, everyone was already hungry for some real Palawan local cuisine, we indulge ourselves to a buffet lunch for only 200 pesos that includes our experience of eating Tamilok or what they call Wood worm found living inside the woods of Mangrove trees around Palawan. Don’t worry it’s not really a worm but a part of the mollusk family however, it resembles a worm. But it definitely tastes and feels like raw oysters.

That last afternoon in Puerto Princesa was quite quick. We had the City tour but due to time constraint we limit it to the best of best of what the City has to offer, that includes Pasalubungan Place (Goodies place). Hahah

By the way, our accommodation in Puerto Princesa was a newly constructed lodge which was not yet operational at that time. Owner came from Germany to open a business here in the Philippines. The lodge has a fresh and cozy feel whose owner’s number I won’t be able to provide due to my lost phone. But you may contact Marikit Pensionne, owner of both inn or lodge are pretty much related.

Anyhow, overall, the trip was worth it even in my case who have lost a phone.

Here’s a sample guide for you for El Nido – PPS:

Day 0 – 9 PM Arrival in PPS

1 AM Arrival in El Nido

Day 1 – Tour A

– Dinner Sea Slugs

Day 2 – Tour C

Day 3 – Underground River tour & PPS city tour

Day 4 – Departure

Accommodation (El Nido) – Marikit Pensionne

Due to the lost of my phone during the trip, I also lost my contact. Good thing they have a website which you could visit.

http://marikitpensionne.com/

Kuya Sonny, the owner of the pension house, arranged almost everything for us (Van transfers, Tour, Puerto Princesa tours and Accommodation) and even gave us a discount.

Thanks to you!

Guimaras

Now this is a throwback.

Touchdown! Iloilo City. My suspicions were right and I was not even surprise when a group of men approached us and offered their jeep for a 5 minute ride for 200 pesos. Good thing it was only PHP 200 ( apprx US$5) but when we finally arrived at the wharf to ride a boat to Guimaras, they were already asking for PHP 8,000 (apprx US$200). Oh boy! That was totally insane. Imagine the one hour ferry ride from Bacolod to Iloilo was PHP 250 per head one way and now we are only talking about a 15 min ride and they were asking for PHP 8,000 already.

This is one of the reasons I have trust issues, oh man!. Of course my immediate response to this was a BIG NO. Just like that! Good thing our brains were all in sync with each other that we opted to do it the local way. Iloilo to Jordan (Capital of Guimaras) PHP 15 per person the #Pinasmile way! This is one of the reasons why I travel, to interact with the locals and experience new things.

Several minutes later, we found ourselves craving for some Guimaras realness. First stop? A restaurant called The Pitstop! We ordered the famous Mango Pizza and yes it was heaven in my mouth. The juiciness of the mango complements the crispiness of the crust partnered with my cucumber lemonade and I’m on high! Literally awesome! Must try! Gold seal!

Only in Guimaras
Only in Guimaras

With our full tummy and our cravings satisfied, we headed to the Trappist Monastery to give thanks to the Almighty who provided everything that we needed for this trip and for the never ending blessings we receive everyday. With all of these, I’m truly grateful.

trappist monastery

It’s afternoon in Guimaras and we were all dead tired from the early morning trip. Some of us slept the whole afternoon, while Liezl, Ge and I went to Guisi Lighthouse which was known to be the 2nd oldest lighthouse in the Philippines.The now rusting metal that stands at the edge of a cliff continues to tell its story. The ruined facade surrounding the vicinity, intricately carved walls and the open windows are just a few intriguing characteristics of the lighthouse that would make you wanna visit the history.

While it was already past the hour of 5 when we left, I couldn’t help but notice how the sun was too eager to set. Like a snap it was dark and all I could see was the back light of the tricycle we were riding. I took the back seat. Literally back and the road was pitch black and calm. Most of the time there was no signal. Good thing I wasn’t alone and it was never scary. lol

Guisi Lighthouse

That night, I went for a night swimming at Raymen’s beach where we stayed. A lot people were swimming also and I had chance to have a nice chat with a lady who was also a tourist from Siargao (Surfing capital of the Philippines). We had a bountiful dinner as well. Food was cheap at the cafe of the resort so we were all super full and ready to have a bonding time before we go to sleep.

The morning was kind of swift. We had breakfast then off to an Island hopping tour which cost PHP 700  + PHP150 per succeeding hour.

Island Hopping Ready

We had a nice swimming session in the different islets of Guimaras and one of them is the Ave Maria Island.

Ave Maria Island, Guimaras
Ave Maria Island, Guimaras

 

Just an island away from Ave Maria, we encountered a pawikan (Sea Turtle) which I’m very much not willing to touch because I might cause the poor animal stress. Anyway, Guimaras also have their own little version of Underground Cave and it’s nice to swim here though the rocks are quite sharp you might wanna wear slippers. After spending time swimming in the cave, we went back to the resort for check out and head over the “Pasalubong” place of Guimaras to buy some goodies for take home.

Cave

 

Mangoes from Guimaras are the sweetest, in fact these mangoes are served in the White House and the Buckingham Palace.

 

Mangoes from Guimaras
Mangoes from Guimaras

 

Basically, that’s sums up our quick Bacolod – Guimaras trip. Till our next adventure! Ciao!

Magnificent Coron

Back in 2012, my friend Noel and I booked a trip going to Coron, Palawan. We took advantage of the Cebu Pacific piso fare promo for a total of 1100 php/pax roundtrip ticket to Coron Palawan. Palawan has been my dream destination  place here in the Philippines since forever. Luckily I was able to visit Puerto Princesa in 2011 with my friend Barry Viloria and finally, I was able to visit Coron Palawan August this year. Hopefully I will soon visit El Nido, Palawan to complete my Palawan bucket list.

Coron is a municipality in Palawan which covers the eastern part of Busuanga island and other Coron Islands and islets nearby. It is well known for its diving spots that shows dozen of Japanese sunken warships. As a matter of fact, Coron, Palawan was listed at the Forbes Magazine’s one of the top 10 best scuba diving sites in the world.

Day 1.

MT. TAPYAS

A 730+ steps climb up, other than the dark cirrus clouds, there was a beautiful sun kissing the horizon at sunset that welcomed us at the top of Mt. Tapyas. At the top stood a huge cross which is I believe being used during the Holy Week ceremonies for Catholics here in the Philippines, also welcoming us is a lush of green mountains and inviting view of the ocean and islands that would really make you say “wow” and definitely make you wanna go jump. (kidding)

View from Mt. Tapyas
View from Mt. Tapyas

Passing by several people on our climb down, most of them would ask  how far more do they have to go, well the trick to this is to say – “You’re almost there, 3 mins from here...” lol even though it’s still 30 mins away, this way they would surely keep going. hahaha. I know this is kind of mean but it is really helpful you know. Anyhow, next stop is Cashew Factory – Well, I love nuts and I really love Cashews however I think Cashew nuts in Coron are gold. My friend, Noel insisted that we just get 2 packs because according to him, Cashew nuts from Antipolo is way more cheaper than what is being offered in Coron. I understand that their target market are tourist and foreigners but hey it’s really pricey but the good news here is they gave us the sample packs and I’m grateful but it’s still expensive..

Maquinit Hotspring

Super init – Playing between 39-40 degrees Celsius, Maquinit Hot spring is a salt water hotspring and is definitely not advisable to people with hyper tension.  At first I was a bit skeptic because it really is hot, I can imagine boiling an egg here in no time but nonetheless, it is truly relaxing once you get adjusted to the temperature. The entrance to Maquinit Hotspring is 150php/pax, There’s no available fresh water in the place for your after- wash so you better be ready to stay wet and salty (yum- lol) until you get to your accommodations. We stayed in Maquinit until 7pm before we head back to the city proper for some yummy dinner.

Maquinit Hotspring
Maquinit Hotspring

For dinner, I ate Seafood Spaghetti it is really yummy and the serving size is good for sharing. I forgot the name of the resto but it is somewhere near the Plaza. We ended the night early because my friend was really tired and had no decent sleep yet.

DAY 2.

Sunblock (/)

Sunglasses (/)

Swimsuit (/)

Sun (?)

Yes, it was a drizzling Sunday but not even a drop could ever stop us from touring the majestic and magnificent Coron. Heading to Lualhati park for our boat ride, we rented goggles for snorkeling because we didn’t wanna miss the awesome coral gardens. First stop, Siete Pecados – why it is called Siete Pecados? is a story you should hear first hand from the people of Coron. 🙂

2nd Stop – Kayangan Lake

It was a 10 minute hike up. A beautiful view of multi-hued waters and rocky islets will surprise you. It was such an amazing view and surreal to find one that looks like just a painting, truly a God’s masterpiece. No wonder everyone taking a Coron trip has a “mandatory” PHOTO of this. Well uhmm kindly excuse our fats.

Kayangan Lake

It was a hike up for the view of this and a climb down to the Kayangan lake where the Life jacket party is on. The crowd of people are all having fun even though it was raining and all wet. Even our cameras, well. Thanks to Olympus Waterproof camera, I don’t have to worry about it getting all soaked.

Our tour went on even though it was all drizzling and windy. Next we went to Twin Peak, then another coral garden. I was feeling a little bit cold already so I didn’t bother to go for a swim anymore but my friend Noel didn’t want to miss the experience so there he goes swimming in the rain.More so, I’ve noticed, the waters here are habitats for umpteen Sea Urchins so it is really important to be careful not to step on them because seriously it is painful and the best antidote for the pain is peeing on the affected part. HAHAHA Oh and Calamansi and vinegar helps as well.

Oh by the way, the tour also includes a sumptuous lunch and the food they served are really delicious. There’s liempo, seaweeds, fish and enseladang tagalog.

CYC BEACH

Moving on. Last stop CYC Beach, no need to wear for a life jacket here, thank God. The island has a beige color sand (I’m being specific here, ok) and it’s a habitat for a few Bakawan (Mangrove trees) and also animals like uhmm a dog and a cat which are being fed by the people who visit there every day. I can imagine how lonely they were in the island.

CYC BEACH
I love Koi for my Swimwear!

We met a few friendly tourist people like us, one of them is even a solo backpacker. Her name is Sarah who’s an architect and a graduate of UST. I really am envious of her, I really wanted to try backpacking alone and it is one of my bucket list . Someday, I will surely do that.

After the tour, we went straight back to our hotel and change immediately. We were hoping to catch the mass in St Agustin Parish since it’s a Sunday and the town of Coron is celebrating the feast of St. Agustin.

After the mass, me and Noel had an agreement to have this night off separately. We went on our personal “Alone-time” which is a  mundane sesh to my every trip. I had the chance to walk around and try the food in the town plaza and after which an old friend of mine from college who lives in Coron invited me to have dinner at Kawayanan Grill. He is an avid motorcyclist so I had my transpo free for the night. Yay to freebies.

We also toured the city for awhile before he dropped me off back to my hotel.

DAY 3

The next morning, we head again to Lualhati park to rent a boat for a half day tour to Twin Lagoon, Barracuda lake and Banol Beach supposedly.

BARRACUDA LAKE

Our first destination is Barracuda Lake, it is 80% fresh water and 20% salt and a very unique lake with its varying temperatures of the water ranging from 29 degrees from surface to 12meters to 31-41 degrees. It is very refreshing to swim here not only for the water but also for the picturesque scenery which is surrounded by different limestone rock formations. Ah, perfect haven! I could just relax here all day.

On the other hand, Being curious why it is called Barracuda lake, I asked about it to the boat man and according to him it is called Barracuda Lake because hiding in its very deep water lives a humongous barracuda fish. Well, lucky me I didn’t see him face to face or else I’d be totally freaked out to swim forever. Kidding. But seriously, I googled barracuda fish and It looks scary. So, thank God I didn’t see him. Anyhow, according to the tourist guide it is very rare that people see the barracuda fish in the lake even to divers.

Barracuda lake
Barracuda lake
Barracuda Lake
Barracuda Lake

TWIN LAGOON

Next stop, Twin Lagoon.

A very tranquil and serene place to swim. There was a nice traverse here, you may pass through under the rock formation which is approximately 6-7 feet deep (I recommend this if you hate climbing up and down) or through a ladder only for thin people (kidding). Truly lovely.

Twin Lagoon
Twin Lagoon
Twin Lagoon
Twin Lagoon

After Twin Lagoon, we were suppose to go to Banol Beach however on our way, we encountered a unique kind of storm-ish in the sea, they call it Subasco. It lasted for about 30-45 minutes. It was raging and looks like a storm that almost turned our boat upside down, good thing our boatmen are very alert. It was one hell of a ride and I will never forget the Subasco day in Coron. It made the “adventure” in my Coron trip!

For our 3rd night in Coron, we spent it with RR and his family because it’s San Miguel Night with free beers (yahoo) and entertaining singers at the town plaza (this is wholesome, ok) 🙂 Yes to free beers!! For midnight snack, we went to Foodtrip restaurant near Lualhati Park for a delicious Goto (Congee) care of RR Palanca again. Yess to freebies. Such a very accommodating friend, he’s really amazing! 🙂

It was a lovely night and sadly our last night in Coron, Palawan.

Our last day in Coron did not pass without souvenirs, I got myself a shout out shirt which says “Never Stop Exploring.” Indeed, we should never stop exploring because life is a big adventure. André Gide a french author and a Nobel Prize winner once said “It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves – in finding themselves.”