The destination: We started off our day by heading to the Manila domestic terminal (Terminal 4) for our early morning flight to Puerto Princesa, the largest city in the island of Palawan. Palawan was voted world’s best island 2 years in a row as ranked by Travel & Leisure Magazine and frequented by celebrities & some of our favourite travel bloggers / IGers. As we are not celebrities / millionaires / famous travel bloggers, we’ll give our cost breakdowns as well so that it may give our readers an idea of “normal people” expenditure.
The reason we were flying to Puerto Princesa instead of the famous El Nido is to cut costs, the only airline that flies to El Nido from Manila costs 2-3x of what it cost us to eventually get to El Nido. Moreover, we really enjoyed Puerto Princesa (as you’ll read in this post and the next one). We took the budget airline AirAsia from Manila which cost us 3500 PHP for 2 people (£56/$70) but unfortunately it departed & arrived an hour late which ate an hour away from our precious little time in Palawan. Yoda used her time on the flight wisely to take some really nice aerial shots of Manila as well as the journey while Dalek gazed dumbstruck at AirAsia’s aircon system that gives a physical view of cooling 😛
The last pic gave us a small taste of what we could expect from the northern end of Palawan after patiently waiting a couple of days. Flying in from the ocean onto the runway was such a pleasure. Took a photo for a Cebu Pacific plane that should be in their ad campaign or something 😛
We then checked into the Floral Villarosa hotel (2432 PHP/£40/$50 per night, we were in for just 1 night) to drop off our luggage & walk 10 minutes to a highly touted seafood restaurant called Badjao Seafront Restaurant. The walk really tested us both as we came from highs of 6C in the UK to Palawan’s 30C during this noon walk (our Asian upbringing isn’t much help after living in the West for all these years). After a needless detour (Google Maps was wrong) we reached a delightful wooden bridge that started from the mainland, went through mangroves & ended at the restaurant which is built on supports on the post mangrove sea water. Oh what a beautiful setting for lunch, possibly our best till now.
Best seafood lunch ever: What was dumbfounding was that the food was even better than the view. Britain’s seafood is meh compared to the variety Asia has to offer and that was proved by the meal of about 1 KG of huge prawns in butter garlic sauce (made up half the bill), chargrilled Lapu-Lapu fish (grouper, you could taste the charcoal), Kinilaw (Filipino ceviche), green mango salad, banana hearts with shrimp & rice. For drinks, Dalek had the Calamansi juice (a tiny citrus that tastes like lime & orange) and Yoda had coconut water straight from the coconut! The bill was a splurge at PHP 2860 (£46/$57) only because we didn’t for once think it was possible to have 8 prawns be almost 1 KG, see pics below. Still way cheaper than anything remotely comparable to this meal in the US or UK.
After a feast fit for a king / queen there was no way we were walking in the oppressive heat. This is where Yoda gave in to Dalek’s suggestion of renting a scooter for a day. Her main concern was her safety (Dalek hadn’t driven a scooter in Asian traffic in years) and if Dalek’s UK provisional learning license was a proper document to use abroad. Getting the scooter was the best decision we took that day as it got us to places we wouldn’t be able to get to otherwise. For 600 PHP (£10/$12), its a steal! Trikey rides sum up to much more.
A romantic drive: We then decided to take the scooter for a spin to Honda Bay, a 30 minute drive north of Puerto Princesa. This point is the start of Island Hopping tours in this region but we visited just to get to terms with driving again & seeing the pretty bay. 2/3rds of the way in, we were hit by tropical rain (after ages), got fully drenched & had to wait for the rain to subside. It felt just like what romantic films portray driving in the rain like. Finally reached Honda Bay and took some pictures of the water. But the best part was discovering a Chinese Temple in the vicinity which looked so charming after the rain. We weren’t allowed inside but were allowed to take pictures and walk the courtyard.
Tip: The lanes on the National highway just north of Puerto Princesa have lanes with slightly different levels so changing lanes on a scooter where the road’s slippery can be dangerous. We almost met an accident due to Dalek’s poor judgement caused by this reason. Don’t make the same mistake. Yoda will be talking about this “near-death experience” for years to come.
Yoda went into a deep slumber soon after getting back to the hotel while Dalek hit the showers, pool & the blogosphere to end Day 2 of our Philippines trip.
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