Saturday, 19 November 2011

The Wonder of Puerto Princesa

A chain of mountain ranges and wide plains run through the middle of Puerto Princesa, dividing the east from the west.


On our Way to Underground River

Puerto Princesa is one of the largest cities in the Philippines based on land area which is 2,500 square kilometres. It lies at the mid-section of the long strip of the Palawan Island.  It is a little over an hour travel by plane from Manila.  My three short nights in this gorgeous city was like months due to the many activities I had which was unforgettable.  Transport facilities are very convenient to go around.  There are many local public jeepneys, but the most popular is what they call tricycle. Moreover, if you are touring for the first time and not familiar with the place, it would be a good idea to arrange for special transport, whether it be a jeepney or an air-conditioned van few weeks before your arrival.  In Puerto Princesa alone, you will find a couple of agencies that cater to package tours.  My trip was indeed very pleasant. It was due to the well-organized package that our tour guide Marlo and his team. 

 
Rock Mountain

Subterranean River National Park
It features a limestone mountain landscape with an 8.2 km navigable underground river.  A distinguishing  feature of the river is that it winds through a cave before flowing directly to the South China Sea.  It is located about 50 kilometres north of the city centre of Puerto Princesa.  This park is also known as St. Paul's Subterranean River National Park, or St. Paul Underground River


Entrance to the Underground River
The Underground River in Puerto Princesa is a real wonder. I have seen this extraordinary beauty, and this is the reason it won a spot as one of the Seven Wonders of the World's provisional winners.  It is not final. Underground River got the sixth spot. The Swiss foundation will announce the 7 countries in 2012.  It's about time to blog about the Underground River. The government under Mayor Edward Hagedorn deserves a commendation for taking part in this very challenging competition. He has turned the city into a source of pride for Palawan.

The entrance to the river is a short hike from the town of Sabang.
We took a small motorized boat to get into the river. We were asked to wear a neon orange life vests before getting into the boat.  When everyone has been sitting comfortably, our boat guide asked to hold the lamp to direct the boat to the cave. It was so dark.  The lamp has illuminated a lot of bats flapping overhead.  Water was dripping down the sheer rock walls and off the ceilings into the river.  Our guide tells us where to point the lamp.  He knows exactly where to find the giant caverns and stalagmites, and the mushroom rock formation.  It took us an hour or so to finish the entire tour.  All went well and we emerged from the cave in disbelief.  It was an amazing trip to the Underground River.
Address: Sabang, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan 


Underground River

Boats of Puerto Princesa
My trip to Puerto Princesa reveals the different boats I saw on my way to island hopping.  It is good to know that this city has a lot of different boats plying around that contributes to a progressive city.  


We do not see this sight everyday, so if you are into island hopping and have your camera ready to take a picture of all kinds of boats that come your way, then, come and join us.
Address: Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Direction: Puerto Bay to Honda Bay and Underground River

Honda Bay At Its Best
I had the chance to have the best adventure of island hopping in Honda Bay.  Consisting of several islets with white sand beaches and magnificent landscape.  Visitors will surely enjoy swimming, diving, snorkeling, and dolphin watching.  Seeing corals of different colours is breathtaking! I also had the chance to hop Pandan, Starfish, Lu-li, Senorita islands, and the popular Dos Palmas Beach Resort.

Honda Bay is the perfect experience and one of the most beautiful places in the Philippines and the best place around the city of Puerto Princesa.


A Pod of Dolphin
Dolphin Watching in Puerto Princesa
Another adventure aside from snorkeling is to search and wait for the dolphins come into view.  There is nothing as exciting as seeing the dolphins occasionally leap above the water surface and sometimes perform acrobatic figures.  I have seen and took photos of the long-snouted Spinner Dolphins leap and play at the waters of the island.  They swim in groups.  I cannot set my eyes on one particular dolphin because there's just so many to choose one.  They were so fast until one or two dolphins shoot up above the water and dives back again taking you by surprise.  The experience in seeing these creatures out in the wild open is definitely memorable and meaningful.

Butterfly Garden
Butterfly Garden Park
A garden filled with butterflies of various colours. It's interesting to see a haven of different butterfly species in their natural habitat where plants and flowers all around the garden. There you will have to walk a few small pebbled trails while chasing them.  

Some people who visits Palawan miss seeing the garden maybe because of its size, but small as it is, it could be a nice way to spend a sunny day with butterflies dancing above your head. I decided to visit the garden as this is only around 20 minutes drive from the city of Puerto Princesa

Crocodile Farm
Wildlife Rescue & Conservation Centre
You will find the Palawan wildlife around 35 minutes from the city centre.  Formerly called the Crocodile Farming Institute and still referred to as the Crocodile Farm.  You will have a chance to join a guided tour of the crocodiles of different sizes.  In this conservation centre, you will also find Palawan's endemic species of wildlife .  I am not into wild animals but it is worth seeing and deserve my support.



Church in Puerto Princesa
This is the cathedral of the Immaculate Concepcion, the patroness of Puerto Princesa, one of the tourist spots in the city.  You can find easily the blue & white angular structure across the Plaza Cuartel.  Most of the time these two places are part of the city tours.  I have visited the church a couple of times as it is very close to the pension house I stayed.
Address: Rizal Avenue, Barangay Liwanag, Puerto Princesa, Palawan


Iwahig Penal Colony Post Exchange
Iwahig Penal Colony
Thirty minutes drive from the city centre is this good example of a true correctional institute.  It is different from all other prison in the world.  You will treat the people not as inmates as they are living normal lives with their families.  Most of them are allowed to toil their farms or make mahogany handcarving and other handicraft which is a good buy for the tourists. It becomes the prisoner's  source of income and one way to earn a living


Room in Puerto Pension
Puerto Pension: "Best & Homey in Puerto Princesa"
I like the atmosphere in this pension house, as it has a homey ambiance.  Only ten minutes drive to and from the airport and very accessible as it is situated between the pier and the main bus and jeepney terminals. It is convenient to stay here being near the city centre.

Rooms at the Puerto Pension are air-conditioned which is comfortable.  Enjoy the hot and cold shower, cable coloured television and mini bar amenities. You can go out of your room, into the balconies just outside your door; sit and eat on the wooden tables and chairs provided outside each unit.   

You will be surprised with the pension's reasonable room rates that includes breakfast.   There are lot more information about Puerto Pension, but if you want to stay outside the city, there is a bunch of other beautiful pension houses and hotels few kilometres away.

Puerto Bay - Puerto Princesa
A View of Puerto Bay 
A panoramic scene of the bay at night and during the day was very pleasant. These are visible from the roof deck bar and cafe of Puerto Pension. Puerto Bay is a good place to relax and stroll along the boardwalk especially at night to watch the spectacular view of the stars. Enjoy Puerto Bay and find reasons of coming back.
  

Ka Lui Restaurant
It is one of the best restaurants in the city of Puerto Princesa. Your tour is not complete if you haven't visit this place.  The place is made of wood and bamboo and has cozy ambiance. It is well-kept and you would not mind to walk barefoot . The staff are friendly and accommodating. This is a popular restaurant serving variety of menu especially in Filipino dishes.  You can reach the restaurant by tricycle.