Monday, January 26, 2015

Exploring Palawan Island--Jan. 26--27, 2015

Whoa! I just lost the beginning narrative of my arrival in Puerto Princesa. The Cebu Air Bus landing right in town so all I had to do is walk along Rizal Ave. I decided to check out all of the Lonely Planet recommended spots because the place I was planning to stay at was about 1 km or so from downtown and the public market. A moto-trike would have been just 50 pesos though---just over $1. My walk gave me a chance to check out some the Lonely Planet recommended restaurants and accommodations.
I ended up at the Circom Business hotel for 850 pesos per night for a single room with A/C, hot showers, breakfast and TV with my favorite channels---CNN, BBC, and Al Jeezra. They also had a tour agency where I booked an island hop tour of Honda Bay for the 28th.
For lunch, I headed to the Badjao Seafront Restaurant by jumping on a moto-trike for the long 50 peso ride. As you can see, I would not be a very good trike driver since I could not fit into this trike in front of the restaurant. To get to the restaurant, you walk on an elevated walkway through the mangrove forest until you reach the restaurant which is on pilings over the water.
The food and surroundings were wonderful. I had the fish steak with rice and vegetables along with some delicious smoked eggplant cooked in coconut milk. It was delicious.
As it was getting near dinnertime, I walked through the public market place on my way to the Baywalk. There I saw several families strolling along with their kids having fun riding the small rented tricycles. I also saw the cruise liner I had seen sailing by while having lunch at the Badjo Restaurant.
All along the Baywak I saw souvenir shops and restobars. I stopped at one and had a dinner of crocodile sisig, with rice and grilled eggplant washed down with a San Miguel. This was one of the many foods that Donna Bender---my wife's college roomate and long time friend--- recommended that I try while in the Philippines. The waitress said the chopped up crocodile with onions and other spices tasted like chickent---and it did. Still no balut though.
Not to give you the impression that I was just eating my way through the Palawan Islands, the following day I rented a motor scooter. I met a chicken farmer from Negros Occidental who was over here on a business trip to get farmers here to establish chicken raising farms---for the meat, not the eggs. It turns out that he has been importing chicken meat to Palawan Islands since they do not grow enough to meet demand. His idea is to find and train farmers in how to raise and harvest chicken to meet the demand for chicken meat. He arranged for having Myke's Bike Rental to bring a motor scooter to our hotel and give me a discount so the 24 hour rental would only be 500 pesos.
After a short orientation on where the gears, brakes, lights and gas tank were I drove the rental guy back to the rental company where I paid the 500 pesos and gave them my passport for security. Made me a bit nervous, but that is how the rental companies do business. It was a herkey jerky ride to the rental company and I was glad to get to the outskirts of Puerto Princesa. Once on the outskirts, the road was well maintained,empty of traffic, but very windy which made for a fun ride at least out to Langognan and Sabang. The return ride was a bit tiresome.


Along the way I crossed several bridges where some boats were moored that would travel out to the sea
At Langogan, several fishermen were stringing out their nets preparing for their next fishing venture.

Fish drying in Langogan.



One of the other villages along the way. I stopped at a couple of them to gas up using one liter coke bottles instead of a gas station since there were none along the way. The gas cost 50 pesos per liter.



Ugong Rock area has these karsts that just jump out of the ground and are quite picturesque.


I finally reached Sabang where there are fleets of bangkas that take you to other islands and to the Subterranean River National Park.




Near here is a marker that show where a 2012 Amazing Race challenge occurred.
It was getting dark as I approached the outskirts of Puerto Princesa and the rush hour traffic was tremendous. I kept the scooter in 2nd gear all the way to Myke's Rentals while occasionally dragging my feet on the pavement to keep my balance.
After I dropped off the scooter and retrieved my passport, I stopped at the Kalui Restaurant---the Lonely Planet's "TOP CHOICE" restaurants in Puerto Princesa. The floors were slickly polished wood, thanks to their policy of leaving your shoes at the entrance.
For dinner I feasted on cordon blue stuffed fish, wild ferns cooked in sesame seed oil with accents of shrimp, jicama, cauliflower strips, seaweed that had clusters of what tasted like fish eggs, and slivered Dalkon radishes. The meal ended with a desert of fruits in a coconut bowl.

This was a great way to celebrate the end of a long motor scooter ride where I discovered I had sunburned my arms and lips.

Tomorrow, I will go on a guided tour to three islands by mini van and bangka in Honda Bay beginning with a pick up at 6:30 AM. The cost of this all day tour including lunch is 1300 pesos--about $29.


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