Wednesday, August 31, 2011

City in a Forest - Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Still going with the Pasalubong Guide, Itinerary, Budget, Tips, and Contacts part.

This was supposed to be set last May but my PM then suggested that we schedule our trip to July. So there, we had our Palawan adventure last July 7-10, 2011. A bittersweet nature trip it was.

Puerto Princesa, Palawan is one of the most beautiful places I have seen. It is the cleanest city as well as considered to be the "last frontier" from non-sustainable urban development. It is a marvel to see such a wonderful place in the Philippines. Amazing flora and fauna. Truly breathtaking.

From Puerto Princesa airport we were picked up by our transfer and brought straight to Manny's Guesthouse - a backpacker's haven. The rate is very affordable and if you're travelling with friends and decide to get the 3 rooms on their 2nd floor, you can have the supposed-communal kitchen and bathroom all by yourselves. Mr. Manny is a very kind person (you can ask him of the good spots to eat and place to buy souvenirs).
Ka Lui's!
Suggested restaurants are the Balinsasayaw for real bird's nest soup and Ka Lui's for their good food, great interiors, and homey feel that's not overpriced. It was pouring when we started out our tour, visiting Plaza Cuartel where there were memorial markers for the American Prisoners of War. Afterwards we visited the neighboring church and while the heavens were dumping water on us, we just went to the tiangge-tiangge for first shot of buying souvenirs. Here, truckloads of cashews, magnets, keychains, and pearls can be found.
A marker for those who were starved and burned to death.
Someone's looking for pearls!
Next stop is the Binuatan Creations. Don't forget and hesitate to try out weaving. If you're such a cheapo or not in the mood to purchase bags but is feeling guilty that they let you try out the machine, you can purchase pretty 15-peso bookmarks. Yes I did, so quit snickering.
It's fun to use those machines!
Apple really wanted to see the crocodiles so she was ecstatic the moment we got to Palawan Wildlife and Rescue Center. This is also where you can buy/order nice shirts that can be personalized (put your name or whatever you like such as scientific names). Picture-taking with a baby croc costs Php 30 while they also sell crocodile sisig and sausages. Don't forget to have a photo with the fruit-loving bearcat.
Biggest croc caught. That's really big. Promise.
Long live these hung-over crocs. Don't you dare drop your cam.
Next in the list is Mitra's Farm. It has a nice view perfect for couples. Yes it ends there. Hahaha. Next would be the nearby Baker's Hill wherein you can stuff your mouth will crinkles and get a real sugar high.
Fresh air!
Afterwards, off we went towards Iwahig River for a short visit to Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (open prison!) and go Firefly Watching (an awesome display of natural Christmas lights). The mangroves and the population of the fireflies here are amazing, so are the guides. They really know their work. Here is where you have to apply 10L of insect repellent lotion because I got the worst mosquito bites of my life.
You can't get in, just stop to take a photo.
Iwahig River
We basically prayed the whole night for sun the next day and if we can, we'll blow away those cumulonimbus clouds as we're going to our Honda Bay Tour (snorkelling and island hopping). Dang it! This adds intensity to the already amazing Puerto Princesa.
This is just a parking lot for the boats. PARKING FREAKING LOT.
Three places only: Pambato Reef for the corals, Snake Island for the sandbar and the fishes, and Pandan Island for swimming and sandbathing - basically just rolling over the white fine sand of Puerto Princesa. There are other islands that can be visited for the Honda Bay Tour but those three were the ones we got for our tour.
Pambato Reef
Snake Island
Pandan Island

So what is Puerto Princesa all about? The finalist for new wonders, the Subterranean River National Park aka the underground river with basketfuls of bats. It's really so beautiful you may want to cry.
Another beautiful docking area.
Just a docking area for the underground river-bound boats.
Just passing by.
The outside of the Underground River. :)
Pretty pretty. Batman and Robin would be so proud.
Fall in love!
And then the Mangrove Paddle Boat Tour wherein you can see lizards (you have to be sharp to see them so eat your carrots) and get the chance to have a close-up on those centuries-old mangroves. Those trees are hardcore I tell you, flexible but sturdy. Also, don't forget to have a taste of the local woodworm (tamilok).
Tamilok in vinegar. Just like oyster. Hum!
Planking on a log in a swamp.
Must be from Pandora [Avatar].
The last leg would be of Ugong Rock. Spelunking plus zipline equate to a perfect end of the trip.
My really thin friend Ryan on ropes. Haha.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Welcome to the Family: Liam and Zumi

Two new additions in my trash bag are Zumi and Liam. :)

I love Moses to death, he's been loyal to me since the start of my college life. He's my default companion whenever the benches are full and he made commuting and walking (whether along Katipunan or inside Ateneo) tolerable. Then there's the thing about me enjoying the whole running phase. I don't know, I think I can run farther when I'm not listening to music, I don't know. Well, a bank company sent me an instant credit card and their promo is a discounted 6th Gen iPod Nano with a watch/wrist strap. So now, I have Liam, the iPod Nano six generations younger than Moses! I pretty much ate my words as I said I'll just switch iPods if mine's not working anymore. Moses still has the guns, I just need to update him and he's up to par with Liam, even if the latter's memory is more than twice what Moses can handle.

Liam in a red wrist strap. You have to guess his real color, though.
Ever since I sold my Holga, I'm still attached to the whole lomo-effect, complete with vignette, saturated colors, vivid effects included. So what's the next best thing? When I was able to have a few bucks to spare (which I could have donated I know) and news that the lens company is not producing more of the lens they use in this camera, I was all set to march to where I can buy this digital "lomo" camera. Hello Zumi, the Digital Harinezumi 2+++ (triple plus!) camera by Superheadz imported from Singapore! Expect random photos included in the posts courtesy of Zumi.

Zumi's camera-shy. So settle for the photo he took. :p

Hullo Liam and Zumi, you both were the results of my bereavement. And both are pretty painful in the wallet.

MORAL: If you can't sleep because of it, if you can't eat because of it, if you can't breathe well because of it, it's just one thing: infatuation. Or in this case, gadgetoholism. Shut up, I just made that up, okay?! August has been really tough on me, really, really tough. I'm just holding on.

The Submarines - Brighter Discontent

Got a brand new roof above my head
All the empty boxes thrown away
I rearranged the place a hundred times today
But the ordering of objects couldn't hide what's missing

All these things, should make me happy
Make me happy to be home again
All these things, should make me happy
Make me happy to be alone again

Got myself a bottle of red wine
Got a night with nothing else to do
I think I might know what I really want
But is a brighter discontent the best that I can hope to find
Got a big black television set
Now I can watch just what I want
But I'm here staring up at pictures on the wall
Where are you, you're still stuck inside 'em all

But love is not these belongings and surroundings
Though there's meaning in the memories they hold
A breaking heart in an empty apartment
Was the loudest sound I ever heard
Got a desk, I'll write myself a note
Pretending that it came from you 
On hotel stationary, from the time we first met
Whatever I can do, 'cause I won't throw my hands up yet

But love is not these belongings that surround you
Though there's meaning in the memories they hold
A breaking heart in an empty apartment
Was the loudest sound I never heard
But I'll be fine if I don't look around me that much for what's gone
If only I could wait here just a little while and let time pass in my room