Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Puerto Princesa, Palawan-February 2011

Date of Travel: 8 - 12 February 2011

Itinerary and Reservations:
City tour, Places to visit:
  • Crocodile Farm
  • Butterfly Garden
  • Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral
  • Plaza Cuartel
  • Baker’s Hill
  • Mitra’s Ranch
  • Iwahig Penal Farm
  • Baywalk
  • Firefly watching
  • Underground River
  • Honda bay
Must try:
  • Kinabuch Grill
  • Ka Lui's
  • Sans Rival of Divine Sweets
  • Heavenly Desserts
  • Viet Ville Resto
  • Itoy’s coffee haus
  • Badjao Seafront Resto
  • Balinsasayaw 
*I've crossed out those that we werent able to go to or try out.

Pension house
Liberty Park Pension
#34 Liberty Road, Puerto Princesa City

+63 (048) 434-9782
City Tour (Rent-a-van)
Contact person: Kuya Julius
Contact number: 09269745604

Price: 1,500 / day (City tour and Firefly)

JD Travel Tour (Underground River + Mangrove)
Contact person: Kuya Bong
Contact number: 09175901925
Price: 1,500 / head (lunch included)

Activities and Schedule:
February 8, 2011 - Tuesday

550 AM – 620 AM
Taxi fare – Pasig to Airport


Terminal fee
930 AM

Arrived at Liberty Park Pension
1100 AM – 100 PM

Lunch at Bilao at Palayok

800 PM – 930 PM
Boat fee and Glow in the dark, Firefly watching
1000 PM
Dinner at Kinabuchs

Hotel accommodation

Hunda bay tour
1145 PM
Tricycle back to hotel


February 9, 2011 - Wednesday

1030 AM
City tour

Crocodile entrance fee

Crocodile picture



Butterfly entrance fee
230 PM
Lunch at Bakers hill
530 PM

Back to Hotel
840 PM

Dinner at Jo’s Inato

20 .00

Itoy’s coffee
1145 PM
Back to hotel

February 10, 2011 - Thursday

730 AM – 330 PM
Underground River and Mangrove Paddle boat
600 PM
Tricycle to NCC Mall


700 PM
Divine Sweets


Dinner at Haims Chicken Inato


1045 PM

Back to hotel

February 11, 2011 – Friday

800 AM – 400PM

Hunda bay tour


600 PM
Merienda at Badjao Seafront

Tricycle – to Badjao and NCC Mall

900 PM

Dinner at Balinsasayaw

Drinks at Kinabuchs
1230 PM
Tricycle back to hotel

February 12, 2011 – Saturday

1230 PM



Mama’s earrings



Dried fish and cashew

Lunch at Chowking
400 PM
Terminal fee

Coffee at the airport
800 PM
Taxi fare going home

Overall expenses:









Liberty Park Pension
#34 Liberty Road, Puerto Princesa City
+63 (048) 434-9782
Date of Travel: 8 - 12 February 2011

Most of the places we’ve been to has Plazas and common areas where people gather, sit down, eat, bum around, meet other people, maybe pray and attend mass, as most often these areas are near churches. Reason I mentioned is most likely, we take refuge and accommodation near those areas as we like taking pictures of rural life and ease ourselves with easy access to the center of most activities. Puerto Princesa, with the abundance of its natural wonders and ironically, its night Life, the city offers less of these that we expected. Or so we experienced wrong? Davao has its Peoples Park, Bacolod and Tagbilaran its Plazas, Baguio, its Burnham Park. Thats basically what I mean. Perhaps people convene at the Baywalk just like in Dumaguete? We'll see when we return.
The Experience:

The Pension house is not where most foreign tourists would stay. We’ve learned to level our classifications with the ongoing market presentation and we can say that LPP is pretty ok with its facilities. Spacious Rooms, Decent Comfort rooms (with shower but no hot water though) and free wifi but limited to the lobby area. Given that, we also like the way we are pretty much treated here. All requests were granted and the people are prompt and accommodating, of course mostly on those that which required their attention like the over cooling aircon (frost on the condenser), request for another fan during the replacement of the aircon,  some simple requests, and midnight trips of the security guard to fetch my wifes insulin from the roof deck kitchen. Stuffs like that.
They have free breakfast at the third floor, serving from 6am to 9am. That’s another plus factor we’re always considering in accommodation, not because we want it free but because of the convenience of free coffee in the morning and enough fuel to get you going to start the day. Key word here is still, Vacation, lazy mode.  When you're there, talk to the Mayna, it might beg for food when hungry.
So here, Liberty Park Pension, a tricycle away from their main road, J. Rizal Avenue, where all the good stuffs overflow, well night life and beer that is.
Firefly Watching, Iwahig River.

Its a long drive to this place. Say an hour? They open at around 6PM, night time of course, for you to be able to see the abundance of fireflies gathering atop trees, mating, partying and planning world domination.. LOL. Don’t bother bringing your DSLR, a Point and Shoot would do. Nothing to take pictures here of, but the souvenir shop and the reception where you’ll sign a petition of sort to help the river, some cause.. Stuff like that. Press your luck on having pics taken with the signages, again, a point and shoot is enough.

They’ll sell you those glow sticks to attract the flies. It’s fascinating to have on as a wrist band, but they don’t really fascinate and attract em flies. Measly P10, get one just to help tourism out. About an hour of trip to the river, back and forth, where you’ll board a boat by threes and the boatman lecture about the behavior of these little bulbed ass creatures. Don’t forget to tap the water for illuminating plankton, ask about it if halfway and the boatman still fails to mention.

Crocodile Farm & Nature Park, Baranggay Irawan.

We started our City Tour with the Crocs. 30-40minutes away from the City. DENR manages the facility and if you like crocs, I mean eat croc meat, they also sell em here. And theres a souvenir shop here as well.
Zoom in a little and you’ll see that they have intervals in letting people in for the tour. While waiting, have your pictures taken with their friendly, non snapping croc. Oh and they have free wifi too.
Since they sell Croc Meat, that might be the reason why this croc is soo tamed. Budge and He's lunch.
The anti social, or maybe he just farted real bad.
Ye old timer. 5meters from nose to tail tip.  Said to be around less than a hundred years old before it died in captivity after eating a human. Some indigestion huh?
Then they’ll leave you to explore the area further. Nature Park, where they preserve and cultivate endangered animals using croc funding to further support this cause. Before meeting them ostriches bear cats and monkeys, don’t forget to bring an insect repellent lotion, a towel and bottled water. 

Iwahig Prison & Penal Farm, Baranggay Iwahig.

About 15mins from the Crocs is the Prison without Bars. Is so because it does not have any major walls to prevent prisoners from escaping. Heck, theres even a community where prisoners are allowed to have their families join them in their encarceration. Not sure about the set up though, but thats pretty much how it goes. A routine head count is done 3times a day as all Prisons should. It has been up since the 1900s, a 40,000 square meter land, now trimmed to about 23,000 where prisoners farm while serving sentence and at the same time get paid participating in livelyhood projects. They are mostly unguarded, depending on the class, Minimum, Medium and Maximum. They wear color coded shirts Brown, Blue and Orange to denote their category of sentence.

Inside the souvenir shop, Here are some of their works. Would you believe these arts are created using Katol to burn/draw atop the cork like medium?
In for murder.  A 20year sentence, served 10 of it. Had a little chat with him and even when naturally I felt fear, also felt compassion for him. He showed me one of the ball chains used in the past to pin prisoners from escaping. He’s wearing blue, and in the background another inmate wearing brown. No names, no faces, just respect and equality. Bought a special souvenir from him and gave him a little extra for it just to help. They commission on what they sell for personal use or send it to their loved ones.
Mitra’s Ranch, Mitra Road, Sta. Monica.

The Former Senator Mitras Ranch. A scenic view of Honda bay and wide grounds to roll into and go tumbling about. Bring some food had you passed by Bakers Hill and dine at the Porch or go piknik on the grass.

Baker's Hill, Mitra Road, Sta. Monica.

Baker's Hill is famous for its bakery, but has eventually evolved gathering souvenir shops, street food venors and some restos to its arsenal of features. More so, it has been referred as a theme park with its wonderland-like concept. Let the kids run around in the playground, take pictures with witty statues and just sit down under the shade to relax. Best be here during miriendas or lunch. Hopia and Iced coffee is nice. They also have tuknenengs around. 
The Special Souvenir I got from Iwahig Prison.
Buy here or hold back till you reach Tiange Tiange.

Butterfly Garden, Sta. Monica.

Just a quick ride from Baker's Hill is the Butterfly Garden, where you can freely interact with em short life creatures and know their life cycle through a guided tour.
A guide explaining the life cycle of butterflies. Here, when they're still eggs. You'll see them as little seeds if you zoom in.
Underground River, Sabang.

Sabang. Make sure you and the pack adhere to your tour guides timeline as scheduled slots of boats and guest accomodation may bump your tour to the underground river to the afternoons. This setback also puts pressure to your Van driver to put everything to the pedal to reach Sabang on time. From Puerto Princesa, It was like the road to baguio on a crazy bus, with a driver on crack or some other crazy concuction. But I can only exagerrate so much. To justify, the 2 hour drive took only about 1 and a half.

Lenses to bring.
Its difficult to take photos inside the cave. You can try bringing an UltraWide and a Flash Gun, or if without the FG, set your built in flash to slow sync on widest aperture and your shutter speed to 1/15 or if you can, 1/10. A Telephoto lens to take photos of the dragons(lizards) and monkeys just wandering around. Ideally, a walk around lens could also be perfect, say an 18-135mm.
Dont take it from me though, None of the shots I took made it to a money shot criteria.

If you plan to take photos, its ok not to take the front seat, most likely, you'll be holding the lamp to light up the rock formations, not possible without three arms.

One favor though, when you reach the end and turning point of the underground cave tour, take a picture of the high ceiling hallway. Its friggin awesome. Still regret not capturing it on sensor as my jaw dropped just looking at the grandiosity of the place. This.

Mangrove Paddle, Sabang.

Not many offer the Mangrove Paddle Tour. Not much to see here but the vast Mangrove settled along a river path, local stories (by the local boatman), and some relaxation to allow lunch to digest well. Support the local cooperative by helping out on the campaign to inform people about the whats and more whats of this mangrove advocacy..
 Kinabuch also offer Tamiloks but mostly out of supply. At sabang, locals also sell em, so dine with it during lunch. Watch your pants though, they say this appro stuff makes yer thingy in the mood.
What to anticipate in your Mangrove Paddle Tour.

Snake Island, Pandan Island, Pambato Reef, Honda Bay.

Make sure you pack a lot of sunblock during this beach filled tour. Though some of the usual island tours, (and the awesome ones like Luli Islands, as per my wife) were taken off of the usual list, Bathing and snorkeling in these 3 destinations most likely will eat up your entire day. Usual tours provide lunch so all you have to bring with you are your snorkles(and bread for the fishies), cameras (maybe extra batts too) and some snacks, (money, if you'd prefer to buy some buko or other stuffs along the way). Well, that's most likely what Men should bring, its a different story for Women. We went home as we were. Dried up on the boat ride going back to Honda Bay, and did not change clothes at all. 

Badjao Seafront, Puerto Princesa.

After the Honda Bay Tour, exhausted and all, some of us decided to chill and kill time at the Badjao Seafront. Although ideally, main courses are their specialty, we went there for mirienda and a glimpse of the sun setting, blending amongst the mountain ranges. 
Take note that tricycles going here charge more than what they should so haggle and question a bit, you just might get a point across.

Itoys Coffee Haus, J. Rizal Avenue.

Good and cheap coffee. Cakes. Soothing acoustic music. Wifi.If you like to sing and feel like it does not displease people enough to make them go crazy and stab you to silence, hit the stage then. House musicians, especially Kuya Mike, is kind and accommodating enough, well actually, was so honored to have an audience who would actually take part in his act, as the type of crowd that night is stale, singing silently and tapping a foot or so while drinking coffee or chatting with acquaintances.

Sorry no beer here. But you can always head on to Kinabuch to grab a tower or bottle of em.

At kinabuch, too tired to take photos. Just took a few full swigs of em pilsen. If mom asks, thats Mountain dew and that they serve all fluids on Pilsen mugs. Hik.

Bilao at Palayok, J. Rizal Avenue.

Dont eat here if you're uber hungry. Takes time for food to cook. But I must say, food here is good. Forget Balinsasayaw, but try it here.
Haim Chicken Inato, Puerto Princesa.

Sometimes you just have to eat in the most common places. This here you wont regret. Much like Inasals at City Burger in Dumaguete.

Tiange Tiange, Puerto Princesa.

And of course, to end up the vacation, lets buy stuff to remember em by. Dont forget to grab a lot of Cashew nuts. Believe me, they're cheaper here than in any place in the planet. LOL. Seriously, if you're a nut addict, get at least a kilo, and dont forget to haggle. Thats probably one of Palawans specialties.
Thats about it for this Palawan Trip. Do drop me a line and I'll try to answer em when and if I can. I know, not many of the essentials have been discussed, this here is a pseudo recollection thru photos of a not so recent trip, so more of the photo, instead of the info filled blog, blabber blabber blabber..

But hey, when you're there, just enjoy, right?