Monday, May 04, 2015

My Palawan Trip: Puerto Princesa

Ok, where do I start.
Since nowadays we already have Instagram, I feel less and less need to post about my travel in blog. But in the end I think to post it here just for my personal record. So today I force myself to write.

Thank God, my plan for almost a year for this trip went well.
What for the four flights, the bus trip, the boat trip.
Everything went according to plan. Alhamdulillah, can't thank God enough for the opportunity.

Initial plan was for me to go alone, but I might be a little delusional thinking my parents would let me go alone so I asked one of my high school friend, Dena to accompany me. So she agreed last minute though she had to pay twice the price of what I spent for my flight tickets. So million thanks to her if she ever read this.
Subway, KLIA2

So as per plan, on Thursday, 16th April, we took a plane to Manila at 1130am, reached there about 3pm and as expected the flight to Puerto Princesa was delayed. I took the time to eat the plane food I got earlier and got myself a Philippine phone number from Globe. Cost me 450PHP for 7days of data usage. No calls though but that's all I needed. Internet.
To be honest all 4 of our flights was delayed but thankfully none of it affected the continuing flight so again, Thank God.
So instead of arriving at Puerto Princesa airport on 6.25pm, we arrived there around 8pm.

My initial plan is to visit the PP City Baywalk Park and the Robinson's Mall, but since we already arrived at the hotel late, the mall which is a 10minutes walk away has started to close, though its still 9.30pm and we decided not to go to the city Baywalk. So we just went to buy some snacks and went back to the hotel, have some maggi cup, plan things for tomorrow and sleep.

The next day we went to the Undergrpound River. Tour arranged by the hotel.
We were told to be ready at 7.30am but for some reason they came knocking at our door at 630am. I'm actually a bit annoyed by this because I've been reading in Trip Advisor or Agoda can't remember that this same thing happened to the other guest few times. I wouldn't have thought it'd happened again but it did. So me and Dena rushed to get ready and packed our stuffs and the van came back after half and hour or so and we went to Sabang for the Underground River Tour.

Journey takes almost 2 hours but the ride was ok we have a lot of friendly locals so the trip doesn't seem that long.
When we arrived at Sabang Wharf, we have to wait for our turn to board a boat to the Underground River location. Waiting time about an hour or so.
Me and Dena at Sabang Wharf. Quite a lot of people there though.

The beach before the Underground River entrance
I had read that the Underground River might not be as enchanting as people might think. It's just actually a cave on a river and it has a lot of unique rock formations of stalactite, and stalagmites which took hundreds of thousands years to formed and it stank of bats urine and droppings. Plus we have to beware of the monkeys who will steal whatever things u carry that they thought is food.
And most people said the tour guide/boat rider will make funny jokes while explaining the fun facts and history about the Underground River.

While waiting our turn to enter the cave

And that what's its all about. Including the boat rider's jokes. Surprisingly, no monkeys were found and the cave doesn't smell funny at all. Maybe we're lucky enough.
But for me, the inside of the cave is worth having a visit to, its something you probably wont see elsewhere, and at least you can say you've visited one of the 7 world's wonder.

So after that, we had our lunch. But one thing I was a little bumped is that I didn't get to do the zipline flying after the UR tour. Since the majority didn't want to do it, only a few. This is why I'm reluctant to do the Tour with the hotel tour guide since it will depends on the crowd. But it's ok. Maybe some other time. We did stop at the Elephant Cave though for few minutes to take a picture. It's the place where some of the Amazing Race episodes were filmed. So it's something.

My initial plan is to go back to Puerto Princesa, buy a ticket for a night trip bus to El Nido that same night, so that I can save one night of accommodation. But the previous night Dena encourage me to take a day trip van instead and find an accommodation in El Nido when we arrived anyway since she afraid we might be tired of sleeping in a bus and couldn't enjoy the following tour.

So by the help of the person in charge of the Underground River Tour, instead of going back to Puerto Princesa City, The van dropped us at Salvacion Junction, where the van from Puerto Princesa will pick us there. I've read about this place in my research and it is like the midpoint of people from Puerto Princesa going to El Nido or Port Barton.

We waited the van at this one cafe for about an hour. There were few tourists there waiting for the van as well and few who travel by bike who just had a rest there before continuing their journey. One of the torist who took the bike suggested us to go to Port Barton. He claims that Port Barton is better than El Nido in terms of a more laid back beach and not  a lot of people. But when asked, they never been to El Nido. Hee.
I'm actually tempted when I hear 'less people' and 'nice beach'. But we had a plan. So InsyaAllah, maybe next time I'm in Palawan, I'll put Port Barton in my list. 

So instead of bus, we took a van that cost 500PHP per person. With aircond. A bit hard at first since it was very hot and the van was cramped with people but it gets better when little by little the locals will stop at their destination and we have more seats for ourselves.

The road from Salvacion Junction to El Nido, well the road in Palawan in general is just a village road with no cars whatsoever, you can only see one or two vans, buses, a lot of tricycle and motorcycles and humans and animals. No traffic lights, not a lot of signboards either and a LOT of road blocks. But we didn't have to stop at all of these road blocks, nobody mind them even, its just some barriers to probably slow down the vehicle speed or some sort.
But these vans are more expensive than the buses for a reason, they are faster so whenever they try to avoid these barriers or other motorcycles or animals, u'll feel like u're in a video game. Plus the driver is on the left side and they drive on the right side of the road, made me confused for a few times there but these drivers seems very competent.
When we almost reached Roxas Town, the view is very nice since the road is located by the sea on its right side. I've read this too, if you were to take a bus, sit on the right side of the van/bus for the view, and if you can move, after TayTay, move to the left side of the van bcos the view is amazing,

And the review was right as well. But at the time the van was still packed and I sat on the middle.

The view at one of the cafe in Roxas Town.

After the van make a stop at Roxas Town, a few locals reached their destination and I sat at the back of the van with two French girls. Since then my ride was nothing but lovely. At this point, I'm really glad Dena talked me into taking a day trip van instead of overnight one or else I wouldn't be able to witness all the amazing view from Roxas Town to TayTay.

Their village is more or less like village view in Malaysia, I remember some village in Sungai Segar, or Kampung Ijok in Batu Kurau Perak, it has similar feeling to it, the paddy field, the coconut tree, the hills, but Palawan differs in terms of they don't have any development, they don't even have a lot of cement house, all are made of bamboos and woven leaves for walls. And like I said, no cars or motorcycles, not like the village in Malaysia where we can see Astro dish even in the poorest of house.
For me the journey was really calming and would be some thing that I would remember for a long time. I tried to capture some pictures, but with the vans moving, no pictures cant give the view the justice it needed. So I put down the phone and just enjoy it with my own eyes.

When we reached TayTay, we took the time to search for new accommodation online for that one night. And booked it on the spot. To avoid any trouble when we arrive to El Nido later on.

And when we get on the road again, the road from TayTay to El Nido was brutal.
almost 80% of the road is still under construction so the road was bumpy all the way. I develop a grudging respect to the van's tyre, it's sport rim, the van's suspension system, for it's ability to endure these kind of road for almost two hours. Driver didn't seem to slow down though even with that kind of road condition. But what make up for the road is the view on the left side of the road when we got closer to Corong-Corong beach in El Nido, it was approaching sundown at the time so the we got to see the
sunset view from the van.

So we reached El Nido around 7.30pm that day. Instead of 8 hours road trip, it turned out to be only 5 hour plus.
To be completely honest, I'd do it again. No regrets.
Will continue with El Nido post soon.


Al Kisah said...

nice place..baju arsenal tak pernah tingga..hehe

Nadira R said...

sini xberapa nice Al Kisah, nanti El Nido andCoron lagi cantik. malas nak upload lagi.hehe


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