Saturday, July 12, 2008

Philippines: Island Hopping in Palawan (July 5)

On Saturday afternoon, we flew out to Puerto Princessa, the capital of Palawan. Palawan is an island southwest of Manila. It is regarded as The Last Frontier and so we selected Palawan over Boracay. Although Boracay has beautiful beaches, it is known as a party town. Palawan is supposed to be more untouched.

The baggage carrousel was outside!

Pristine Beach. After inquiring whether there was a beach nearby at the hotel, we were told there was Pristine Beach. Unfortunately, it did not look too pristine!

C2 and I walked by a seaside village and this little boy followed us. He was very intrigued by the camera. He didn’t speak any English though. So cute!

We hit a Philippino restaurant to taste some of their specialties, including Crispy Pata, fried pork knuckles. The Gastronomer is enjoying every last bit of it. She’s not The Gastronomer for nothing!

On our second day in Palawan, C2 and I decided to go island hopping and snorkelling in Honda Bay (or Hunda Bay – Hunda meaning deep sea in Spanish). The Gastronomer and The Astronomer decided to head north to Sabang, having already experienced snorkelling in Nha Trang.

On our tour was our tour guide Aissa and two native Philippino from Manila: Ariel and Lai. We visited three islands. We spent the morning and had lunch on Pandan Island, its name stemming from the pandan trees. The beautiful island was small enough to walk around the perimeter in an hour. In the afternoon, we went to Snake Island where there was a dedicated space for snorkelling. Surprisingly, there were a lot of fish, especially if you fed them bread. On Starfish Island was an area with corals that was also great for snorkelling.

Most of the islands in Honda Bay are privately owned and visitors must pay a fee to visit. What’s amazing is that most Palawans don’t even know about these islands. Unfortunately, it’s a case of tourists getting to enjoy attractions rather than locals.

On our way to Pandan Island.

Our lovely guide Aissa!

Pandan Island from afar. The pandan trees are on the other side of the island!

Here are the pandan trees. The fruit looks like a warped pineapple!

I don’t know what this fruit is but its colour really popped in the background of beach colours.

The water was a beautiful turquoise. I wish I was there now!

Lunch comprised of rice, vegetables (eggplant was my favourite dish), chicken, squid and grilled tuna. There was a salad of tomatoes and salted eggs. Philippinos love salted eggs! All this for four people! We asked the tour guide to join us but she was shy about it and just picked at her food. After we finished, what was left went to the boat men (they wouldn’t join us either) and finally, their leftovers went to the dogs!

Our boat hit a shallow area where there were tons of starfish! These ones were by the beach. I tried to “rescue” them by throwing them farther into the water, but people kept picking them up and taking pictures with them over their heads. Don’t they realize they are living creatures!

Starfish Island.

I invited Ariel, Lai and Aissa for dinner. We went to Badjao Seafront restaurant which was close to Pristine Beach. Our new Philippino friends were lovely people and even insisted on paying for dinner (how embarrassing… I invited them!)

After dinner all five of us jumped into one tricycle because the restaurant was rather remote. Although the tricycles here are a bit roomier than in Manila, it was still a tight squeeze!


Wandering Chopsticks said...

Puerto Princessa is where the Viet Village is located. I think b/c as you said, Palawan is really remote so no one wanted the land.

Mai said...

Wow! Your trip to the Philippines looks so awesome. I'm looking forward to snorkeling in my future, as Cambodia though amazing (civilization!, spirituality!, architecture!) was a hot, dusty place.

Miss.Adventure said...

WC: Yes, it's on the way to Sabang. I'll mention Vietville in the next post! How do you know about it?

Mai: I wish I went to Cambodia. Maybe next time!

Wandering Chopsticks said...

My friend is volunteering in the Philippines right now to settle the last of the refugees. But I knew about it when it was formed in 1996.