Home > Travel - Beyond Malaysia > Palawan 8-day trip [26 Mar ~ 2 Apr 2011] – Part 1

Palawan 8-day trip [26 Mar ~ 2 Apr 2011] – Part 1

Palawan Map

Palawan Map

This is where Palawan is – at south-western Philippines. Provincial capital is Puerto Princesa (公主港), where most of the commercial flights touch down here. Roxas, Taytay are relatively big towns, but the real germ of Palawan is definitely El Nido at the north, a small laid-back town about 5~6 hours away by van through some rough roads.

Palawan is often called the “last frontier” of Philippines, to me indeed it is but not for much too long – tourists are starting to flocking in. Go visit now before El Nido is transformed into another Boracay. This is my first time visiting Palawan (Puerto Princesa & El Nido) – but it already makes me feel real good.

1st day – What’s new? Zest Airways’ flight to Puerto Princesa delayed

 

Partas Bus Schedule - Manila to Clark v.v.

Partas Bus Schedule - Manila to Clark v.v.

Arriving Clark airport from Kuala Lumpur by Airasia (4 hours), it is another 2 hours (P350) bus ride (Partas) to Manila metropolitan/Pasay City. I kinda know the drill – this is the 3rd time I am arriving at this deserted airport in as many years. It sucks to take that long on the road, and to worry about the traffic at EDSA that might have prevented us to catch the connecting flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa.

Traffic turns out to be alright, and we reached Manila Domestic Airport at 2pm – our Zest flight ETD is at 3:30pm. The queue at the check-in counter snaked for at least 50m for this flight, for the reason that I found out a bit later, that this period (late March to early May) is the Summer Break for Filipinos, and the super peak season for air travel. Therefore,it took us one hour to check in, partly due to the inefficiency of the counter personnel as well.

There is no individual gates at the boarding area for this small Manila Domestic Airport (used only by Zest Air & SE Air). It has some lousy food stalls selling exorbitant priced badly-cooked food, but at least it has enough chairs for all the travelers. A flight destined to Cebu, which supposed to be departed 30mins before our flight, was delayed. So it is no surprise that it was announced a bit later that our flight is delayed, too, initially for one hour. It just got bad after that – the departure time was eventually set at 7pm. That’s 3.5 hours delay.

No more Zest Air for me – not that Cebu Pacific is brilliant, but at least it flies from a much bigger airport terminal. I used Zest just because it is a few peso cheaper than the Cebu Pacific flights, and the ETD is fitting to my schedule. Oh well. Fellow Filipino travelers that I met later part in the trip also recommended me not to use Zest – “they are the worst!”.

Free curry chicken rice & H2O, courtesy of Zest Airways.

Free curry chicken rice & H2O, courtesy of Zest Airways.

Food & water is given to us free at about 6pm at the terminal. Somehow the not-spicy curry chicken rice tastes good. Luckily I’ve brought a novel to kill time. Travel serves the purpose to finish off books that I’ve started ages ago that pause after the first few pages.

1Q84 Book#3. At Manila Domestic Airport. 痴等。

On board, the pilot apologized for the delay – it sounds so touching, as if he is holding back emotion to prevent his tears streaming out of eye sockets. Soon, he regrouped himself, and sped the A320 to arrive at 8pm at Puerto Princesa, 15 mins ahead of revised ETA.

Dori from Raq Pensionne picked us up at the airport exit – I’ve made a room reservation via phone 2 days ago. I appreciate the fact that she came a few times to airport to check the flight status, being situated not far from the airport helps, of course. Raq Pensionne is just 10mins drive from here.

Oh and we arrived at Puerto at the Earth Hour, so most of the shops switched off their lights from 830pm ~ 930pm, even the restaurant that we went to later (Kinabuchs) switched to use candle lights. Nice!

Candle-lighting Kinabuchs- celebrating Earth Hour in Puerto Princesa.

Candle-lighting Kinabuchs- celebrating Earth Hour in Puerto Princesa.

All the staff at the Raq Pensionne are really polite and considerate, makes me to have the family feel. The room is alright – 2 double beds, hot/cold shower, with air-conditioner, stand fan & TV, breakfast included. Free Wifi is available each floor outside the room (signal too weak inside), and hot and cold drinking water is provided at the corridor. P1350 (double bed deluxe).

We signed up for tomorrow’s Sabang Underground River tour, selected the breakfast choice and serving time (6am!) and off we went to Kinabuchs, a restaurant that received good review in tripadvisor.com. “Sizzling Pork Ribs” is tasty and tender – just superb. Among the best porks that I’ve ever had. “Mixed Seafood” is sub-par, though. P490 for 2, plus some drinks.

We did come back a few days later and tried “Sizzling Baby Ribs”, it is not as good as the Pork Ribs. The food menu is extensive, it will probably take one a month to try them all.

Sizzling Pork Rib & over-exposed Mixed Seafood. Definitely it is the camera's fault! :-p

Oh, the tricycles rule the whole Palawan, it seems. They are everywhere, in Puerto, in El Nido, and everywhere in between, normally charged P10/tourist to any town area destinations. They can be charted too at a mutually agreed upon price. They look like bugs to me. So bugs infested Palawan.

Looking down from Raq Pensionne

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To be continued.

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