Friday, 20 July 2012

Palawan is a Nature Lover's Haven


Written by: Marie Rea

As my family of four descended upon Puerto Princesa Airport, it has been apparent that we shall have a great and memorable time!

Puerto Princesa City Domestic Airport ~ PALAWAN
Firstly, we were greeted by our driver and guide with pearly white shell necklaces as soon as they spotted us, with the driver holding a square cardboard with my husband’s name on it. I suppose he was sticking out from the rest of the passengers inside the airport with his almost 6 feet tall frame and light brown hair.

We had a quick rest and got refreshed with glasses of ice cold black gulaman (grass jelly) drink in our native- themed accommodation called Puerto Pension. Then we started our half day city tour and marveled at the greenness of the place.

There’s still some traffic but as you go further away from the city centre, we were thrilled to see the lush mountains, verdant trees and wild vegetation. Indeed, Palawan is a cut above the rest of the country! Huge acacia trees were a magnificent sight everywhere we go. In the historic Puerto Cuartel, where a number of Americans died during the second world war, the trees made the place so cool.

Marie at Ugong Rock Zipline ~ PALAWAN
Our first day wasn’t as hot too, yet there was no rain so far. We were taken to the Crocodile Breeding Farm where a number of crocodiles, both freshwater and saltwater ones, in all sizes were being cared for.

Then off to Mitra’s ranch where my youngest did the zipline and went horseback riding. The rest of us just watched as the weather was getting hotter.

The next few days were more thrilling than the first as we found ourselves doing the zipline at the Ugong Rock after doing some serious spelunking there.

A variety of activities were on offer so there was no dull moment indeed! We never thought this trip would see us truly participating in those action oriented tasks! It was a question of going back to the cave to finish or do the zipline for a faster finish.

On the boat to the Islands from Honday Bay ~ PALAWAN
So being lazy sods that we were, we did the quickest yet scariest option, about 250 metres descent from the top of Ugong Rock! It took only 21 seconds of the scariest yet exciting time of our lives!

Of course the highlight of the trip, aside from the awesome island hopping from Honda Bay was riding a motorboat inside the heritage listed and world acclaimed , one of the new seven wonders of the world, the amazing Underground River System in Puerto Princesa.

Each sporting a safety helmet and lifevest, our party of 11 got treated to a wonderful display of stalactites and stalagmites coupled with funny commentaries from our diminutive guide who often warned us that if we have to look up, we shouldn’t say “Wow!” as we need to close our mouths to avoid the dropping bat poos which are numerous inside the caves.

The Underground River ~ PALAWAN
It is a credit to the locals who try to preserve the wonderful resources they are blessed with. The places we’ve seen are clean and not polluted, we hope this will continue and not be spoiled by visitors!

Lunch near Ugong was great too with mostly grilled meats and seafood. Fish was always fresh and the green mangoes and shrimp fry called bagoong alamang were so tasty! Dessert was dainty and sweet turron (thinly sliced bananas in crispy fried wrappers).

The wildlife we saw were varied, from the crocodiles, monkeys, monitor lizard and many more which thrilled our youngest who was always quick to spot them!

Buying Flip Flops ~ PALAWAN
From Honda Bay, we also visited Pandan and Starfish Islands snorkeling in their clear sapphire waters. The trip also included buffet lunch at Starfish island which consisted of delicious native fare-grilled pork liempo, seaweed salad, Grilled seafood like crabs and prawns (I’m allergic so was contented to watch the others enjoyed them) and the tastiest and freshest grilled fish eaten with vinegar and garlic dips and tomatoes. There was also salted egg and tomato salad and sweet lacatan (native variety that I truly like) bananas.

Demo : How to Peel the Banana in PALAWAN

Each sporting a safety helmet and lifevest, our party of 11 got treated to a wonderful display of stalactites and stalagmites coupled with funny commentaries from our diminutive guide who often warned us that if we have to look up, we shouldn’t say “Wow!” as we need to close our mouths to avoid the dropping bat poos which are numerous inside the caves.

Our Palawan sojourn will forever be remembered as one of our most adventurous trips of a lifetime! We came hoping to enjoy the natural resources we’d heard often enough but ended up doing more and loving it. So if you haven’t been to Palawan, expect to be surprised!

Author Bio: 
Marie is a Tasmania-based columnist whose writings appeared in journals and community newspapers in Australia. Her work "If I were a flower" won in a writing competition held in Melbourne. She is the founder of Global Citizens Care Movement helping needy children of her native country, the Philippines.