Saturday, September 29, 2012

Puerto Princesa Trip: Where We Stayed

Unlike our trip to Ilocos Norte and Sur where I stressed over where we'd be staying, this time I resolved to book the first best & nicest place I could find. Good thing Hibiscus Garden Inn wasn't very hard to find. It is, if I'm not mistaken, the highest rated hotel in TripAdvisor. When I saw that the reviews looked genuine and their photos looking pretty, I booked for a 4D/3N package with them right away.

Hibiscus Garden Inn isn't located along Rizal Ave. where most accommodations and dining spots are. It wasn't a disadvantage though because this meant we wouldn't be waking up to a sight of buildings and public transport. It's also very accessible via tricycles, anyway.

It's a relaxing, breezy little place.

Hibiscus Garden Inn
Hibiscus Garden Inn
Hibiscus Garden InnHibiscus Garden Inn
Hibiscus Garden Inn
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Hibiscus Garden Inn
Hibiscus Garden Inn
Hibiscus Garden Inn
Hibiscus Garden Inn
Hibiscus Garden Inn


x Roan

*photos by ed and me

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Puerto Princesa Trip, Day 3: Honda Bay Island Hopping and Snorkeling

Island hopping and snorkeling at Honda Bay is one of THE things-to-do in Puerto Princesa. When you do packaged tours, expect it to be in the itinerary along with the city tour and going to the underground river. Well, even when you just do a DIY itinerary, it's highly recommended you include it. Our tour guide constantly reminded us that the correct name where Snake Island, Pandan Island, etc. are located is Hunda Bay, contrary to how it is popularly spelled.

My skin hasn't completely recovered from baking it under the sun. I'm nognog-er than ever. My sunblock didn't last long or must have worn off faster than it should as I enthusiastically snorkeled.

I am including videos in this post as I am bad with adjectives and describing things, so I thought the videos will do the job for me at showing you how underwater life is so amazing there! We just took them using my phone (used protective casing but was so nervous the whole time!) so it's not the best-est quality. It's also shot in portrait orientation, lulz.

Honda Bay Island Hopping and Snorkeling
Honday Bay

Honda Bay Island Hopping and Snorkeling
Dos Palmas sighting

Honda Bay Island Hopping and Snorkeling
Lu-Li ("lulubog-lilitaw") Island

Honda Bay Island Hopping and Snorkeling
Tickly sea urchin

Honda Bay Island Hopping and Snorkeling
Pandan Island

Honda Bay Island Hopping and Snorkeling
Ed

Honda Bay Island Hopping and Snorkeling
Ed trying out sea urchin, one of his food adventures in Puerto Princesa (he ate tamilok at Baker's Hill and catfish at KaLui)

Honda Bay Island Hopping and Snorkeling
Lunch! <3

Honda Bay Island Hopping and Snorkeling
Our tour group

Honda Bay Island Hopping and Snorkeling
Starfish Island

Honda Bay Island Hopping and Snorkeling
Starfish Island, part two

At the end of the tour, our snorkeling guide gave us these cute leaf creations...

Honda Bay Island Hopping and Snorkeling
Honda Bay Island Hopping and Snorkeling

Aaand here are the snorkeling videos!






x Roan

*photos by ed and me

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Puerto Princesa Trip, Day 2: KaLui Restaurant

Caveat: Photo-heavy and less talkative post.

KaLui Restaurant
KaLui Restaurant
KaLui Restaurant
KaLui RestaurantKaLui Restaurant
KaLui Restaurant
KaLui Restaurant
KaLui RestaurantKaLui Restaurant
KaLui Restaurant
KaLui Restaurant
KaLui Restaurant
KaLui Restaurant
KaLui Restaurant

Kalui Restaurant is the most famous restaurant in Puerto Princesa. It has a gallery, garden, and something like a performance platform. Most importantly, it's where you dine barefoot.

This is how my house would look like if I quit fancying Japanese and Scandinavian interior designs.


x Roan

*photos by ed and me

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Puerto Princesa Trip, Day 2: Puerto Princesa Underground River

In the early stages of the selection for the "7 New Wonders of the Natural World", prior to everything going on full-on media campaign, I visited the 7 New Wonders website and excitedly voted for our wondrous subterranean river. Then right after voting (for PPUR and others) and browsing around the website a bit, I thought "Hmm, this whole thing is fishy" just by the look and feel of their website (it looks pangit, crowded and HTML-y). While every nominated 'new wonder' must have their wonderful, breathtaking qualities for sure, the whole operation didn't look reliable and legit, which I wish occurred to me before clicking those buttons. Then last year around the time of the announcement of "winners", the competition was questioned and tagged as a marketing/money-making scam (read about it here and here).

Our subterranean river "winning" the questionable competition doesn't make it less wonderful. It is and we should still be proud of it. Although I am greatly ashamed to admit that I even participated and voted for it even when I hadn't been there, I just console myself with the thought that I supported local tourism. The national and local governments' efforts to bring in more people to Palawan paid off, at least, despite the shadiness of the award.

I wanted to go to Coron instead of Puerto Princesa as I was more interested to see cliffs instead of caves. But well, cliffs and shipwrecks can wait, I thought, so let's frickin' see first what this river is all about.

So, to the river we went.

Puerto Princesa Underground RiverPuerto Princesa Underground River
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Puerto Princesa Underground River
Puerto Princesa Underground River
Photobucket
Puerto Princesa Underground River
Puerto Princesa Underground River
Photobucket
Puerto Princesa Underground River
Puerto Princesa Underground River
Puerto Princesa Underground River
Puerto Princesa Underground River
Puerto Princesa Underground River
Puerto Princesa Underground River

As you go near the river entrance, it starts to smell bad. Really bad. Ladies and gents, that's bat piss for ya. It doesn't smell that awful anymore when you go inside though. There are swallows flying around and bats sleeping. It can be freaky-ish seeing so many bats dotting the stone walls.

The tour goes only for about 1.2km in 45minutes. Our boatman was funny and knows some Cebuano that went very well with his mostly Bisaya tourists. We were lucky too that there was a film crew shooting inside the cave (it was for an ad, if I remember it right) so we had good lighting near the "cathedral" (where that phallic stalagmite is). There's a lot of stalactite formations you could imagine anything. One is this Jesus-like "print" on a stalactite that gives me relief it wasn't on dry surface (and is in a protected area) lest devout people start making an altar for it.

The formations are wonderful and the area is well-maintained and managed. I just wish the tour went on for more than 1.2km because it's so bitin!

Puerto Princesa Underground River
Puerto Princesa Underground River
Puerto Princesa Underground River

Where we had dinner on Day 2 will be on a separate post; it's an attraction by itself!


x Roan

*photos by ed