Thursday, February 24, 2011

Reminiscing the Past: Puerto Princesa Tour - Day 1

Wow, it's been months since I last blogged.  This means that I had been a busy career woman for the past few months.  However, since I am on my mandatory leave for two weeks, I guess it's time to catch up on my writing.  And the first thing I want to blog for this year is all about my Palawan tour with my husband.  My husband Jeff and I planned our Palawan tour late last year to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary and Valentines day for this year.  Our "honeymoon" planning was very timely because we got the chance to get seats from the 50% off promo of Cebu Pacific and got a good travel and tours agency in Palawan which was referred by Jeff's friends (Hadefe Travel and Tours).

Puerto Princesa City is the Philippine's largest city with lots of magestic nature spots from land to water.  My hubby and I picked this city for our 2011 tour because we love its sense of adveture and nature awe.  Hey, it's a pleasure to visit a place with world wonder destinations.  The city is also known to be the City in the Forest because you won't see big buildings in the area, but it is surrounded by big mountains and rainforests.  Since we stayed for 5 days and visited lots of tourist sites, I plan on blogging about our tour per day so that I may be able to fully describe and share our Palawan experience.

DAY 1 (February 15, 2011)

We arrived at Puerto Princesa Airport at around lunchtime.  The hotel service fetched us and brought us to the hotel, Ysabelle Mansion, which was just 5 minutes away from the airport.  The hotel was very cozy and quiet, perfect for a peaceful stay away from the hussle city of Manila.  It has free wifi (but the strength was not very high), free breakfast, and free airport transfer.  But then, it doesn't have swimming pool or jacuzzi.  What I liked most about the hotel is its long list of breakfast choices.  All through my life of traveling in the Philippines, this hotel has the longest list of choices for breakfast (other hotels only have 2 to 3 choices).  Choices include chicken / pork longganisa, tocino, beef tapa, corned beef, dried fish, sardines, etc.  For other information about the hotel, you can visit its website to know its room rates and packages.

Since we arrived at Puerto Princesa during lunchtime, our contact from the travel and tours agency, Sir Hanny, fetched us from the hotel and suggested us to take lunch at Balinsasayaw Restaurant.  Balinsasayaw means "bird's nest".  Obviously, it's the restaurant's delicacy.  However, we didn't order it because that time, we craved for rice and meat (we were super hungry!).  After the lunch, our tour guide, Ms. Joms, fetched us at the restaurant.  In the tour van, we were with several oldies who were mostly balikbayans (and a foreigner).

At Balinsasayaw Restaurant

It was the start of the City Tour.

Ms. Joms, our tour guide, was very accommodating.  She introduced herself and let us introduced ourselves to one another.  She was very talkative all throughout the tour, which was fine with me because there was not a dull moment especially while we were on the road.

Our first stop was at the Crocodile Farm.  It is a breeding house of crocodiles and mini zoo at Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center about 30 minutes away from the city center.  Aside from live crocodiles, big and small, we also saw the remains (the bones and skin) of one of the largest crocodile caught in the wild which attacked fishermen in the area.  What I liked most in this destination was the picture taking while holding a live baby crocodile, for only 30.00 Php per shot.  Holding my breath, I got to hold the live crocodile while posing infront of the camera (and guess what, the croc placed its feet on my arm and tummy!  It's kinda scary but sweet...but still, ahhh...exciting?  Hehe).


Brave me and my hubby...and the croc... :D

Our next stop was at the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm.  This is the prison without cells, wherein inmates live like in a farming community rather than in jail.  Inmates here could earn a living through farming, handicraft, or being a househelp for employees who live there.  They could also build their own nipa hut! On our way there, we saw a group of inmates doing some farming, with only just 2 security watchmen to look after them.  Prisoners here came from other correctional institutions all over the country, and were brought here probably because of their good conduct while in prison, or even old age.  We asked the tour guide if there were prison breaking incidents.  There were, but they could be easily caught because Puerto Princesa is a city in an island, and the population is not very large, so it's easy to locate those who tried to run away.  But most of the inmates rather stay in the cell-less prison, living like an almost normal life, rather than break the rules and be back behind bars again.  Anyway, we stopped by the souvenir shop wherein my husband and I bought keychains to give to our siblings.

The inmates willingly took this photo for free!

After the Iwahig Prison, we visited Mitra's Ranch, which felt like you're in Tagaytay, because it is situated on top of the mountain, overviewing the sea.  It was not as cold as Tagaytay but it was very windy.  The place is actually owned by Mitra's. 

A lovely spot for a quiet just-want-to-be-with-you date on top of the mountain.

Next, as we went down the mountain, we stopped by Baker's Hill and bought some of their yummy delicacy, hopia, for pasalubong.

Photo galore at Baker's Hill

We also went to Binuatan Creations.  It is a handicraft weaving place, where its products are export quality.  Guess what, I tried some actual weaving to experience it...and I found out that one needs to have good hands and feet coordination because it was like biking or walking on a treadmill.  I bought some good stuff there also...handwoven bags.  Quite a price, but even my husband couldn't stop me! Hehe.  I also bought a bag for my mother, and placemat for my mother in law (Jeff's choice, of course).

I'm weavin'!

Our last stop was at a tiangge souvenir shop in the city proper. The shop sells Palawan t-shirts, keychains, pearls (pearls here are so cheap, as well as the well known South Sea pearls), cashew nuts (also a delicacy of Palawan), bags, and many more.  I got to buy pearl earrings because earrings are my favorite everyday accessory.  After the shopping, we passed by the Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral and Baywalk (they call it Baybay).  We didn't get the chance to stop to those places because our companions in the van are already tired.

My husband and I dropped off the hotel to freshen up, since the City Tour was very tiring (and hey, the temperature was so hot!).  Around 7:00 pm, we had our dinner at Kinabuchs Restaurant, wherein their specialty is crocodile meat.  We didn't order crocodile meat because we were afraid that our stomach might get upset during the first day of our tour.  Therefore we just indulged into sisig and kangkong.  After dinner, we walked towards Tiki Restobar (which was just a minute or two away from Kinabuchs Restaurant), and ordered a pitcher of cherry margarita there.  I felt so lucky that night because I learned that it was a reggae night.  I love reggae!

Night life is not too popular in Puerto Princesa, but we're glad to found Tiki Restobar to grab some drinks.  Margarita + reggae + hunny with me = happiness!

And the night went on...and I guess, I don't have to talk about it on my blog, do I? *wink*

So that made the DAY 1 of our Puerto Princesa tour.  How would I describe it?  Tiring, informative, and expensive! (Hey, it was just the first day and we already did a lot of shopping!).  Next time I'll blog about the DAY 2 ---  the Underground River tour adventure.

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