Palawan Fling

May 28, 2011 by

Typhoon Chedeng threatened our Palawan trip for a while there, but as certified backpackers, we (Kevin and I) pushed on with our plans dragging along another friend, Wil. So now, as I write this, we have finished the main stops of this tour. Chedeng dampened us a bit with its tail end when we left Honda Bay today, but it was one of the happiest stormy afternoons we had to endure.

It’s very hard to describe our Palawan adventure in words because it’s just beyond all sorts of cheesy descriptions. It’s one of those places that shut you up the moment you decide to ‘discover’ what it has. You don’t even drop your jaw. You just shut up because somehow you’d think God has put so much love in this spot of the world. Again, it’s hard to describe Palawan. But I’ll try.

We are booked for 3 nights at La Chari’ca Inn (owned by a very good friend of mine, Chari) and we had our days planned out. After checking in at noon, we headed straight for Badjao Seafront Restaurant and I thoroughly enjoyed the meal with the view and the breeze. It offered us the bayview of the city with the lush mangrove plantation surrounding the area. Must-tries are their seafood platter and puso ng saging (banana heart). They have big servings that can be shared by 3 people.

Lunch at the breezy Badjao Seafront Resto. Wonderfully generous servings at great price!

The bridgeway to Badjao Seafront that cut through mangrove plantations.

After lunch, we visited my friend Chari at the Provincial Capitol where she also serves as the head of the Provincial Culture and the Arts Office. Afterwards, we walked around the city (covered much of the Rizal Ave) and enjoyed the cool, cloudy afternoon like real tourists.

For dinner, we had to hit the much-hyped Ka Lui restaurant. Reservation is a must. Seek assistance from your front desk if you wish to dine there. There are two batches for dinner: 6.15 PM and 8:00 PM. If you miss your reservation, they will cancel it and give it to those who are on the wait-listed. Once there, you leave your footwear and go to your table barefoot. The food comes in small servings, so don’t expect for too much sharing. The ambiance is fabulously native. But in terms of food, I wasn’t really blown away.

Dinner at Ka Lui with Chari, Kevin and Wil

Our call time the following day was at 5.30 in the morning. Travel time to the Underground River is approximately 2 hours. Our tour guide, Jasper, declares we should be the first group to get to the river because if we miss it, we will be queued down to 4.30 PM. The river can only accommodate 700 visitors per day. Registration, permit, transportation, boat rentals, etc are necessary. Spare yourself the hassle. Call our tour guide because they do everything for you: Omar Silva, 09205664649.

The underground river is marvelous. It is an amazing natural masterpiece deserving of the title One of the World’s 7 Wonders. When we visited however, the water wasn’t as clear as it usually is because of the strong rain in the mountains.

Before entering the underground river

The grand underground. It's like hades' world, minus all the fog and the singing. I didn't feel creepy at all. I was enjoying the amazement as I look at rock formations formed after millions of years.

What made that underground tour special too was the fact that it was our friend Wil’s birthday. We surprised him while we were cruising the river’s underground highway with a small cupcake and two candles with a very special birthday song. Ha ha! The rest of the people on the boat enjoyed the surprise as well. How many people get to blow a birthday candle inside one of the world’s greatest wonders, aber?

Wil's Underground River Birthday surprise!

A group shot before leaving the underground river

Returning to the city, we just explored more of the downtown and later had dinner at Katabuchs. We tried out their Crocodile ala Bicol express. Tasted like pork. I loved their crispy pata though.

On our third day, we hit the road for Honda Bay. The day promised some sun early on, so we got all excited for the island-hopping activities. We took some nice pics at Starfish Island, snorkelled, fed the fish, had lunch at Snake Island, and got all wet with rain in Pandan Island. The beaches are pristine, and the waters serve as a safe home to corals and highly diverse marine environment. I ended up burning myself with too much snorkeling again. One of the highlights of the tour was when Omar introduced to us his own version of photography tricks. I will let the photos speak for itself. Super fun!

Some kind of a HUGE starfish, eh?

Starfish Island sandbar at Honda Bay. Beauty at its finest.

Basking under the sun at Snake Island sandbar. I can live here.

No snakes at Snake Island. Just me and my dreams.

Effects courtesy of Omar the great -- our tourguide.

Primal but hilarious.

So far this trip has been so much fun. I think I’m just a bit too lethargic to apply a good amount of humor, but Palawan is best experienced with your fun and adventurous friends. The beaches and the serenity of the places are best for lovers. The food, well, they’re alright. We were lucky to be in the company of a family who hails from Pampanga (but are based in LA now). They’re a fun bunch too!

Lunch at Snake Island with our super fun tour group.

Our last stop was Pandan Island, but dark clouds loom from afar.

And it came closer.

Our next Palawan destination is El Nido. It’s happening on January 2012. I will skip Dinagyang for that. By then, I hope no Chedeng will mess up our summer get up.

A FEW FAST-FACTS

Hotel: Php1,600/night

Tryke Fares: Php 8/head

Food (average per head): 300/meal

Beers: Php 50/bottle

Underground River Package: P1,500/head (all-in: van, permits, lunch)

Honda Bay Tour: P1,200/head (all-in as well)

City Tour: 600/tryke

**Tips are encouraged especially for your tour guide, boat men, etc after the tour.

**Almost all restaurants carry service charges on your bill, so tips aren’t necessary

4 Comments

  1. mae parcon

    Bob, did you go to Luli Island? Luli is short for “lulubog-lilitaw” as the island appears and submerges depending on the tide. If my memory is right, it’s a Korean-owned island, and there was only a small but beautiful structure for day guests. It has just opened when we were there last March 2008. The place is beautiful (back then, at least).

  2. eman

    *neon green*

  3. ced

    Sir Bob!! Like like like!! Waaaaaaaa!! :D

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