Friday, September 19, 2014

Nguy out in Palawan

Hello from Palawan Island in the Philippines!

We had a wonderful week in California visiting our families. We meant to do one last US post before heading abroad but we ended up spending our last few days in the states running around doing last minute things for our trip. Now here we are! We felw into Manila for one night before connecting to Palawan.

Here we are after 20+ hours in flight and basically no sleep! We are running on the Popeye's we ate at the Hong Kong airport before our connection to Manila.

When we got off the plane in the city of Puerto Princesa on Palawan island, there was music blasting a Disney-like tune singing PUERTO PRINCESA over and over. The air is hot and muggy with the smell of burning trash always there at various levels of intensity.  It is definitely tropical feeling, and even though it is south east Asia the Spanish influence carries through in the language and culture. It is really kind of an interesting mix.

Representitive image of Puerto. Jollibee is their most widespread fast food chain, featuring spaghetti, fries, burgers, and fried chicken.

As Mary already knew, food is not really their thing here. It generally involves rice, eggs and hot dogs or spam for breakfast. Lunch seemed to be whole fish, rice, fatty pork, and sometimes squash. They also love spaghetti, but they eat it with a very sweet tomato sauce. Still, the Pension we stayed at was very nice and we enjoyed our breakfasts together outside.

Lots of rice.

La Belle Pension in Puerto Princesa.

Our first tour was Honda Bay, "the last frontier" as they say here. It was lovely. We took a boat to different islands and went snorkeling at a reef. We even got massages on a beach! We also fed the fish and explored a low tide.

Snorkling with a weird turtle float "island" in the middle of coral reefs. Spotted: parrot fish and giant clam.

One of our island stops, the one with the beach massages!

Low tide revealed this dead, but still cool looking, starfish. Some teenage girls found it but they let us hold it and take a picture with it. 

Our second tour was the Underground River, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. We took a harrowing two hour van ride to get there. We stopped about half way for coconuts, and Mary shared hers with one of the stray dogs. Stray dogs are everywhere, but they seem to be very friendly. We miss Bear!

Mary and temp-Bear.

We arrived at a pristine beach and took a boat to a river that goes in to a cave, and then we took a second boat through the cave itself. It was very beautiful, with interesting rock formations and millions of bats. It smelled a bit strongly of bat poo. 

Outside underground river cave.

Inside underground river cave. Emerging from bat poo smell. 

Outside the cave there were monkeys!

Mary and Kendra after the boat ride through the cave.

We survived the underground river!

We got to hang out for a bit at the beach before heading back to town. 

The coconut boat bringing in the "bukos."

The next day we took a 5+ hour ride to El Nido, which is named for the Nido bird. People collect the spit from Nido birds, harvested from their nests, and make soup out of it. This soup is a delacacy, but we decided to skip it.

El Nido is mostly known for its natural beauty, and it lived up to its hype on that front. The town is not so great; very rustic and yet very unorganized-touristy. We had no electricity from 6 am to 2 pm every day. You have to be a good negotiator to get around, which luckily Mary is since she is familiar with the Philippines. We did one day touring, going island hopping and seeing the beautiful lagoons. 

Outside the Big Lagoon.

El Nido is known for its limestone, which is everywhere, jutting out of the sand and water.

The second day we did our own thing and spent the day at Las Cabanas beach. It was very relaxing, and pretty empty thanks to it being low season.

 Beach day.

Our last day in El Nido we had breakfast, enjoyed the beauty one last time, and then took the van ride back to Puerto for one night.

Next Stop: Manila!