Friday, January 21, 2011

Palawan with my cousin, Majo!

I made it!  Inside the Small Lagoon

Majo and I in the Small Lagoon

My new friend Guillermo!

On our first boat trip, we met this lovely gentleman named Guillermo.  He is from Montreal, Canada and he has his own business.  He does hair for films and creates some of the hair design and hair pieces for Cirque du Soleil.  Pretty cool business!  It affords him to only work 9 months out of the year and travel for 3 each year!  He has been ALL OVER THE WORLD and speaks french, spanish, italian, english and portuguese.

Entalula Island for lunch!  We had the island all to ourselves! 

Rough Waves!

Crystal Clear Water!  You can see the coral straight through!

Hello friends,
Sorry it's been a minute since writing but I've been pretty tired when I come home from doing some island hopping during the day and the lack of internet availability.  I arrived in Puerto Princesa from Manila by plane a few days ago.  We then have to take a van and drive 6 hours to El Nido.  This is the northern tip of Palawan.  We chose El Nido, because I only have a limited amount of time to explore a small section of these vast islands.

On planning my itinerary to Palawan, I was most reluctant to come here because of the seriousness of malaria on these islands.  As you may know, I came well equipped to combat my little friends.  I am still getting bit a few times but definitely not as much as some of the other people that were not prepared.  I am very happy to have my weapons against them.  I must say we are getting bit by something else but my cousin and I don't know what.

Now that I am here in Palawan, it was well worth the trip.  Everyone has been saying how beautiful it is and the islands of Palawan will take your breath away each time.
 Some facts from the site above:

History. The Northern Calamianes Islands were the first to come under the sphere of Spanish influence and declared a province separate from the Palawan mainland. When the Spaniards left after the 1898 revolution, a new civil government was established on June 23, 1902 by the American regime. Provincial boundaries were revised in 1903; the name of the province was changed to Palawan, and Puerto Princesa became its capital.

Geography. Palawan is a narrow archipelago of 1,780 islands on the western border of the Philippines, with the highest concentration of islands and being the most sparsely populated region in the country.

Environment. Known all over the world as the Philippines' last ecological frontier, the province of Palawan harbors vast tracts of tropical rainforests and a huge expanse of marine wilderness. Thick canopies of trees carpet mountain ranges running the length of the mainland. Fringing reefs and coral atolls open a new realm to discover under the clear water surrounding this archipelago.

Fauna. Proclaimed as Game and Wildlife Sanctuary in 1967, Palawan is the habitat of 232 endemic species. Many of which are rare and endangered. Thus, the province is refered to as the "Wide Island Zoo" of the Pacific and "Haven of the Rare Philippine Wildlife". Some of Palawan's unique creatures are the metallic-colored peacock pheasant, the shy mousedeer, the cuddly bearcat, and the reclusive scaly anteater. In the forests and grasslands, the air resonates with the songs of more than 200 kinds of birds. While some 1,500 host plants that are found here attracts over 600 species of butterflies that flutters around the mountain and fields. Endangered sea turtles nest on white sand beaches, and the gentle Dugong feeds on the seagrass that abound in Palawan's waters. Other endemic fauna of Palawan includes the Calamian deer, Palawan tree shrew, Palawan porcupine, mouse deer and Palawan Peacock.

Fisheries. An estimated 65 percent of Manila's total fish consumption comes from Palawan's 176 fishing grounds. Trade in dry fish and other marine products fuels the local economy in every town. There are about 53 fishing grounds which are among the richest in the country.

Ode to Charity!

Another bus ode to Charity!

In planning my trip to Palawan, I must warn you, it is almost impossible to make a reservation ahead of time.  The pensions and hotels here do not take credit cards.  My cousins and I researched quite a bit before confirming for 1 night with Rovic's Pension House.  They do not take credit cards so I had to go to their bank and make a deposit via bank transfer.  

We would then scour the island once we arrived to find a place to stay for the rest of the week.  

Our room in the dungeon!  

Our first accomodation on our first night there.

When you walk into this place, you go down a long, narrow corridor with rooms for rent on both sides.  At the end of the dark hallway is the beach.  This place was very clean and neat but I call it the dungeon. The staff was friendly and welcoming. The rooms were so dark and gloomy.  It reminded me of one of those scary movies that you watch when you yell, "Don't go down that corridor, stupid. Look behind you!! "  
There was only a small window in our room leading to the dark hallway.  I want to also advise you to be aware because there is NO ELECTRICITY AT ALL FROM 6AM TO 6PM DAILY throughout the island!!!  We paid $1500 pesos per night.  ($34.88 US)

On our second day there, we arranged for a boat tour of the island.  I woke up and I was wondering what all the noise was because it was so dark!  My cousin and I realized that it was already 9:30AM and we missed our tour because our dungeon of a room had no sunlight coming in and there was no way to tell the time of day!  Also, since the lights and electricity go out at 6AM, it is dark in the hotel.

Ugh!!  WE missed our boat!!  Well, we woke up and packed our bags to move to another hotel. When we first arrived, we were smart enough to walk down the strip and enquire from each owner of their availabiity for the rest of the week.  I am not used to traveling without knowing I have a room so it was quite an adventure trying to make sure we had a place to stay.  We were always one step ahead of the other people that traveled with us in our van so we found a room after the second hotel.

With much persistance, we were able to stay at Rosanna's Cottages.  This was voted the #1 pick on the lonely planet guide for El Nido.  It's a family owned business with individual cottages at the beach.  We paid $2400 pesos per night ($55.08 US dollars).  This was actually high for filipino standards but we were happy to pay extra for natural sunlight and wi-fi availability when the electricity comes back on each day.  

View from our porch at sunset

View from our porch during the day!  

My cousin,  Majo enjoying our new accomodations

Inside our cottage at Rosanna's.

Our cottage from the beach.  It's the bottom right corner of the house.

During our stay, we met two young guys from San Francisco!  They became our neighbors and our travel companions for the next two days.  Their names were Jesse and Jake!  Jesse is half filipino, half caucasian.  It was his first time to the Philippines as well as Jakes.  They were two laid back and fun guys.  After the Philippines, they were on their way to Bali and Vietnam before heading back to the states. 

Our new friends Jesse and Jake!

Pancit Bihon

Balay Tubay- Where we had dinner and heard live music.  The band played U2 and The Beatles songs and were actually quite good.  

The next day we were actually able to wake up on time for our day tour.  
Our first tour was comprised of several different islands. Tour A:
1. Small Lagoon
2. Simizu Island
3. Secret Lagoon
4. Entalula Island
5. Big Lagoon
6. 7 Commando Island
This tour was from 9AM-4PM and cost $600 pesos ($13.95 US)

Cathedral Cave

Snorkeling and about to enter the magical Small Lagoon of Miniloc Island!  This is only accesible through canoe or swimming.  Once you enter the lagoon, you are surrounded by high limestone cliffs.  Inside, the lagoon, the silence and beauty which is trapped inside these cliffs are mesmerizing.  

Another freakin' couple with those damn matching outfits! 

The local homemade fins!  I had to try them on and take a pic!  

The Crew:  Jesse, Lyn, Guillermo, Majo and Jake

1 comment:

  1. Im so glad you got to see El Nido, which Ive been boasting about...
    ISN'T IT "LIFE-CHANGING"? hahahaha.
    For me it is. IT CHANGED MY LIFE! :)