Puerto Princesa, Palawan (Part 1)

Posted: March 18, 2013 in Blog, Travel
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Visiting the Underground River: One of the New 7 Wonders of the World
ITLOG_No. 18

What would be the first thing to come to your mind if you hear the word Puerto Princesa?

The Underground River, which is one of the new 7 wonders of the world and which is also included in the Properties Inscribed in the World Heritage List, but other things also comes to mind, like the crocodile farm, the islands of Honda Bay, the sumptuous food of Kinabuchs and kalui plus other places you could visit.

Folk etymology attributes the name “Puerto Princesa” to a princess-like maiden who in the early days is said to have roamed around the place on certain nights of the year. On the other hand, practical people attribute the name to the geographical advantages of the place as a seaport – naturally protected the whole year round and endowed with a depth that can accommodate any size of shipping – a royal haven for vessels or a virtual princess of ports as thus indicated by Spanish colonizers on the country’s map.
Historically, the place was named after Princess Asunción, born in 1864 to Queen Isabella II and her consort, Francisco de Cádiz. When the princess suffered an untimely death, the Queen changed the name to Puerto de la Princesa. Eventually, the name was reduced to Puerto Princesa as it is known today.
Spanish Colonizers founded the settlement on 4 March 1872 in the course of their exploration of the province. As they scanned the Palawan shoreline for a capital site, they came upon a hill with steep declivity. Rowing to shore, they surveyed the hill and discovered an extensive plateau, which they decided as ideal for settlement.
Soon after, Fr. Antonio Muro, levelled a portion of the hill to make way for a chapel (That section is now occupied by the Catholic Cathedral, the P.C. Barracks and the Rizal Park). The Old Municipal Building used to be there, as well as an Elementary School. The first mass celebrated in Puerto Princesa took place at a site where a marker now stands.
In May 1872, the Port of Puerto Princesa became the center of Spanish Naval Operations in the area because the Bay met all the Navy’s requirements. Royal Decrees later provided incentives to settlers, and by 1883 the settlement had flourished into a town of twelve roads, a hospital and well-built port.
In 1894, Puerto Princesa was recognized by government authorities as one of the most beautiful towns in the country by virtue of the orderly distribution of streets, buildings and houses as well as the cleanliness of the community.

We got our promo tickets from Cebu Pacific last August and were scheduled to visit Puerto Princesa and stay there for 4 days and searched we around the net on the places to visit plus asking some Couchsurfing friends on the best way to go around Puerto Princesa and even offered us a place to stay, but we opt to stay at the place of one of the couchsurfer who had a cheap place for rent with a kitchen, a bath and 2 rooms with aircon (but we stayed only in one room and the other room was rented out some days later), and she even took care of our tours. With everything planned out and the knowledge we gained, we were prepared for out trip to Puerto Princesa.

Leaving the house early in the morning, around 0400hrs, we were then brought to the airport, and with a long cue, we entered the terminal and checked if the counter is open for check-in, then we noticed a self service check-in booth and checked-in ourselves which was faster than going through the check-in counter, then drop-off our bags at the Bag Drop Counter and headed for the second floor where the restaurants were and had a seat at a fastfood shop where we ate our breakfast, which Carol prepared before we left home. After breakfast we walk around the shops and then headed for the Security Check Area to enter the terminal lounge, which was full, and took a seat after others boarded their designated flights. At around 0720hrs we started boarding the plane and left the airport with a little bit of delay due to heavy air traffic at the NAIA, which was about 0830hrs.

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Arriving at Puerto Princesa airport around 0930hrs, after claiming our bags and exited the terminal, we were greeted by our tour organizer, who arranged for us our ride to our lodge. Riding the trike, and having a conversation with the tricycle driver who offered to take us around Puerto Princesa for the city tour, this was a tip that the couchsurfers told us, to rent a trike for the whole day and bring us around the city, compared to a van tour, which has only a 4 hour city tour. Arriving at our lodge, we rested a bit and thought of going to the City Hall and look up a friend but upon arriving we were told that he works in the Capitol Building, which was in the town proper, heading back to the lodge and then decided to go Robinson’s Mall and meet up with a couchsurfer. Arriving at the mall, where we bought a card reader (which I forgot to bring on this trip to transfer files to the laptop) and then got some crocodile burgers at a food stall named “Bodato Burgers”, which was not bad tasting, and then had a chat with our couchsurfing friend. We then decided to head back to the lodge, which was around 1400hrs, and rest because it was too hot and would go out for dinner later.

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Later that evening, at around 1800hrs, we took the multicab which was the basic means of transportation in Puerto Princesa, just like the Jeep in Manila but smaller, and headed for the town proper, going down at Junction 1, and then started walking at Rizal Avenue looking for the place of Kinabuchs Grill and Bar where we would have our dinner

Kinabuchs is a pop nightly hangout spot mostly for tourists visiting Palawan. It is well known to many foodie tourists as it is tagged as one of the best restaurants that you should try in Puerto Princesa. Kinabuchs is conveniently located at the center of the city and few minutes away from the airport. It provides a huge Al-Fresco dining area where you can drink and dine under the moonlight.

Here we orders our usual food, I got chicken and rice, while Carol got pork liempo with rice, ensaladang talong and then we ordered an exotic treat which is popular in Palawan which is the ”Tamilok”, but did not get the fresh or the kinilaw but instead opted to get the breaded kind, which tasted like oysters, this is usually eaten raw, dipped in vinegar and calamansi. After a heavy dinner, we walked along Rizal Avenue headed for the Baywalk area, where we met other couchsurfers buying a cold drink in a food stall. While chatting with them, we noticed that it was getting late and usually the multicab going back to the lodge would be till 2130hrs only and it was almost around 2200hrs, so we decided to take the tricycle and went back to the lodge where in after freshening up we rested for the day.

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Waking up the next day and prepared for our tour around Honda Bay, but since there was an event and a parade around the town proper, we were picked up by the van past 0900hrs, and headed for Sta. Lourdes wharf, passing by a place where they rent out swimming gears named Pan’z Snorkeling Equipment Rental Shop to use on the Island Hopping Tour. After registration and having a boat designated to us, we then boarded the banca, using those big placard sized numbers to call them and headed out to our first destination, which was Pambato Reef.

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Pambato Reef is about 15 minutes boat ride from the Sta. Lourdes wharf, this marine sanctuary may be reached. In the middle of the reef, a floating raft marks the location where tourists may get off. Each visitor is allowed to freely snorkel around the reef.

This reef is located in the middle of the bay where the shallow sections are about 10 feet from the coral reefs. So, life jackets will be required especially for visitor that are not good swimmers. Tourists are also given the opportunity to dive down and touch the coral species and take pictures with the abundant fishes in the reef.

Schools of different species of fish swim and live around the living coral of the reef. Different coral types also grow on this part of the reef like brain corals, staghorn corals and others.

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Our next destination was Luli Island, another sandbar in Honda Bay, which has garnered its name from the local description of Lulubog-Lilitaw and is shorted as LuLi. It meant sinks and arises. During low tide, its sand bar is visible while on high tide it sinks underwater leaving only the houses on it, are visible.

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Then we headed for Pandan Island where we would have our lunch. This island lies south of the Snake Island. It is an oval shaped island that is managed by the Legends group of hotels. The island offers a beautiful view of Honda Bay. Like Starfish and Snake islands, Pandan has cottages that are available for visitors. Its shores, is as green as the other two islands and its sands are soft and white.

Here we got a table and Ron, our guide started to prepare our lunch, which consisted of Grilled Fish, Grilled Pork, Adobong Manok, chopped Cucumber, Salted Eggs and rice, after lunch we had Turon, which we bought at the restobar and then walked around the island, while Carol was having a henna tattoo done, I got some halo-halo at the store to cool off. Leaving the Island around 1530hrs, we headed back to Sta. Lourdes Wharf and then leaving the rented swimming gears at Pad’z, we were then dropped off at our lodge to rest.

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Riding the multicab to the town proper and alighting at Junction 1, we headed for another restaurant along Rizal Avenue for our dinner that night (which we were fortunate to have a reservation) at a place called Kalui.

Kalui, I think is a smaller place than Kinabuchs, but which is much cozier, entering the place you are greeted by a staff and then you have to leave your footware at the basket which they would provide and walk through a maze of good places and table where you can seat and relax while having dinner, we were seated at a table which I thought was a window but was awed to see my reflection outside, we then ordered the Kalui Special of the Day set, which the serving was good for 2 persons. The meal consisted of a Fish Steak, Prawns, Veggies of the Day, Fish Rolls in Coco Cream, Rice and Soup, which when we ask, the soup are made from coconut juice.

We took our time eating our dinner, which was like our post valentine date, and after we were served a coconut with mixed fruits in it, which they said was compliments of the house. We then took our sweet time to explore the place more and took photos of it. Walking back to the junction to walk off our full bellies, we then took the multicab back to our lodge and we did not notice that it was already late in the evening, freshening up and then we rested, for the next day we were scheduled to go around the city.

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All photos are owned and copyrighted by Joey Rico (also known under these names: alien_scream).
All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use, copy, editing, reproduction, publication, duplication and distribution of the digital photos, without his explicit permission, is punishable by law

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Philippines License.


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