Back to Manila

I left Puerto Princesa around midday of the 28th and got back to Manila in the late afternoon. This time I had picked a base in another area of Manila – in the city of Pasay, close to the Mall of Asia.

Originally I only had planned a night here, but with my return flight being canceled, I had to extend my stay by a further night.

With the weather on the rainy side, my options were kind of limited … and I pretty much spent my time either in the hotel or in one of the malls in the area. With the Mall of Asia one of them (currently the 12th biggest mall in the world) there was certainly enough to see and do – including the fireworks (ever Friday and Saturday at 19:00) or the little amusement park (a ride in the Ferris Wheel surely was a must). Otherwise I concluded my packing, got some last minute souvenirs, did feast on the famous jollibee spaghetti 😉 – before making my way to the airport midday of the 30th to catch my flight home.

In retrospect I have to say, the second part of the trip was different from the first. It turned out less active and less involved (which was probably not a bad thing, given my ankle condition). Yet, I thoroughly enjoyed the activities done, though – after a perfect first part – it felt as if something was missing, also as there were no real options beyond the activities already covered – despite the time still available.

In any case, it was a good thing, that I had seen and experienced both parts of the trip and as such also the two extremes on offer in the Philippines. Overall I have to say, the Philippines are really a country of options, there is literally something on offer for anyone and for any interest – add the friendly people, good food and there is everything necessary for a great holiday destination. And with me just having touched about six islands of more than 7000 – who knows, I might well be back …

Puerto Princesa Impressions

Today we made it back from El Nido to Puerto Princesa. With breaks the 270km trip had taken us about six hours (including another visit of the Palawan elephant).

We got into Puerto Princesa in the early afternoon, so enough time for a bit of exploration in Puerto Princesa.

First stop was at the local craft brewery – the Palaweño Brewery – literally down the road from the hotel, to try the local IPA from tap. A solid IPA with citrus flavors and yet the to-be expected bitterness – – certainly an interesting and unexpected find 😉

From the brewery we continued to the town center, got to see the cathedral and the City Baywalk Park (complete with Christmas decorations) – to then make it back to the hotel.

Later in the day the whole group made it back to the baywalk park. A boat was waiting for us here, to get us over to the other side of the bay and then (on a smaller boat) into the Iwahig river. The sun had set by now and it was dark, so we were able to see the fireflies (or rather their lights) and see them react on our sounds (seems, the chicken sound was not that impressive for them).

The second final dinner did follow after our return, though turned out less involved than the first one (not unexpected though).

More Island Hopping

Today was basically a copy of yesterday – spent island hopping again – though this time only up until the early afternoon.

We were first heading out for Ubugon Lagoon – with more snorkeling for me.

We continued to a nearby beach – and this time an empty one – with no other boats around. The reason for that was simple: big waves (two+ meters) were coming in and making the beach accessible to strong swimmers only. I spent most of the time in the water, playing in and with the waves.

We continued for a further beach; this time with the usual sun bathing and snorkeling option – – and made it back to town in time for a late lunch.

In the afternoon it started to rain – so it turned out a lazy one … reading, walk into town for an espresso and really nothing more.

El Nido Impressions

We made it into El Nido in the early afternoon and in time for lunch. The rest of the day was at our liberty – – and I spent my time, exploring the little town. Below some impressions from El Nido’s beach.

In the evening – this was Christmas Eve at last – we had a group dinner in a restaurant at Lio beach – sea food and fish galore … yummy.

Leaving 67th Heaven

Today we were leaving the resort and continuing for El Nido. A drive of 4 hours or 200km was ahead of us.

The van surely was fittingly named … especially after our gin-heavy adventures up North – tthe photo below is from the actual van, we were sitting in.

En-route we had a stop in Elfredo’s restaurant in Roxas, offering all services, a traveler might need (clean toilets, quick and good drinks and food), but also showcasing some of the not so endemic Palawan species (elephant or zebra anyone?).

Quiet Time at the Beach

After lunch it was back to the vans to continue to the 67th heaven resort, a drive of about 1.5 hours/ 65km. En-route we had one stop for photos. I don’t recall much of the drive though … seems I (as most of the rest in the van) used the drive for a nice postprandial nap.

Puerto Princesa Underground River

We had arrived in Puerto Princesa slightly delayed the evening before; we got to the hotel only after dinner – and most had called it a night right here.

Today we were heading of for one of the prime attractions of Puerto Princesa, the underground river (officially known as Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park). We left the hotel in Puerto Princesa in the morning, to engage into a drive of about 2 hours/ 75km. Goal was to be at the little port of the park in Sabang before 09:30, to ensure a not too-long wait for the transport to the entrance of the underground river.

By big boats we first made the 20 minutes trip from Sabang port to a bay around the corner and got ashore at the beach. We now had a small walk ahead of us, before arriving at yet another beach. Here we got into a much smaller boat – and were now being paddled into the entrance of the cave. We spent about 40 minutes in the cave – being paddled around and shown some impressive stone formations.

We eventually made it back to the beach, had another little walk to the other beach, to then make it back to Sabang. It was now about time for lunch, so we ended up heading for a buffet restaurant with a good options.