Four days. Ten tracks. One family on one awesome vacation. Oh yeah!
And it’s you and me in the summertime
And all the sunshine banishes the dark
Track 1: Summertime – The Sundays
My brain was a mess. The day of our flight out and I hadn’t packed my bag—although I’d already planned out what I was going to bring, so that was a good thing, right?— and I still needed a couple of new shorts—all the shorts I owned were for use indoors only— and I wasn’t sure if I had any sunblock left and I really needed hair clips, too, and omgomgOMG I’M GOING TO PALAWAN!!! my brain kept repeating.
Therefore, a steady beat was necessary to calm my giddy self. I usually reserve Summertime for travel on the road during afternoons, but, as we flew in the clouds, the orange remnants of the sunset streaking the horizon, this song just felt right.
Track 2: Forrowest – Forro in the Dark from Surf’s Up
It was already dark when we touched down on the Puerto Princesa International Airport. We piled up into the vans our hotel sent, dropped our things into our rooms, and headed off for the city.
First order of business: FOOD. Naturally.
We dropped by the Kapitolyo for Baragatan sa Palawan, “a celebration of life, history, and culture in thanksgiving for the natural beauty and multifarious resources that our God Almighty has generously bestowed upon the province.” We had a heavy dinner of seafood, seafood, seafood, and more seafood from the many stalls of the festival. Tuna, lobster shrimp, manta ray, normal shrimp, squid, and a bit of grilled pork on the side.
After dinner, it’s off to the other stalls for some Palawan culture.
And then coffee and tea at Salo before going off to bed.
“What is that smell?”
Track 3: Summertime – Moonpools and Caterpillars
Wake-up call: 5:30 AM. But I got up 6:00. Ahahaha. We started the day early to go to the wharf in the town of Sabang. Along the way, we passed through zigzag roads along the mountainside, and straight ones through valleys, karst mountains and nipa huts.
It was nice to see the villages we passed by. Our tour guide said that most of the them were self-sufficient, and didn’t really need to go to the city proper to get food. Some of the villages don’t have electricity still, so they use solar panels for power. AWESOME.
Two hours later we were on Sabang Beach, which easily became one of my favorites in Puerto Princesa.
Track 4: Island in the Sun – Weezer
I simply HAD to take my flipflops off and walk barefoot on the sand. I simply couldn’t not do it. I mean, JUST LOOK AT THAT!!!
The beach had a resident yellow labrador. I wanted to take him home.
Of course we went for a dip. Fine sands, easy, steady waves, and clear blue water. How could we not?
Track 4: Lion Sleeps Tonight – The Tokens
After lunch on the beach, we got on a boat to go to the Underground River Park, which wasn’t really underground, but really inside a mountain. So, to be strict, the official name is Puerto Princesa Subterranean River Park. Huh.
To get to the river from the beach, we had to walk through the jungle a bit. Monitor lizards were walking around casually, and maybe there were monkeys in the treetops, too, our guide said.
Track 5: Trashin’ the Camp from Tarzan
We had to wait for about an hour before our turn to go into the river, so we went back to the shore. Kuya Tim and I went for a hike, though (literally) up the Monkey Trail. It was just us, the trees, and the monkeys. Clearly, this calls for a Tarzan song.
Yep, all nature and no technology! (Except our camera.) It sounds awesome, yes, but when you’re way up the mountain and deep in the forest, you come to a point when you get a little worried. Especially when you see a sign that says that you’re not so far from the next town. (Or, rather, the town where you were in last before you got to where you are. By boat.) When that time comes, you take a few photos, and then you turn around and hurriedly go back to camp.
And maybe stop for a few photos with another monkey.
And, oh yes: the underground river? Awesome experience! The photos don’t do it justice, so I won’t even try to include them here.
Dinner: Ka Lui. Will write about this is in a separate blog post. Maybe.
“Just breathe normally.”
Track 6: Under the Sea from The Little Mermaid
First up: Pambato Beach for some snorkelling and ooh-ing and aah-ing at the coral reef. To be honest, although I’ve gone scuba diving before, it’s my first time to snorkel over a coral reef. Ahehehe.
Despite the many jellyfish stings I got—don’t worry, they were teeny jellyfish… fishes… whatever—I enjoyed myself thoroughly!
Track 7: Reggae Got Soul – 311 from Surf’s Up
Next stop: Snake Island, a two-kilometer sandbar of sand, mangroves, and colorful fish.
Fish-feeding. Lunch. Walking. Photography.
Track 8: Into Yesterday – Sugar Ray from Surf’s Up
Pandan Island. This be my favorite part of the day. The fishes were much more hospitable, and the sun and the water was just great. If we didn’t have a semi-strict schedule, I would have wanted to stay longer and just lounge on the sand. The next time I’m in Puerto Princesa, I’ll probably skip the other islands and go straight to this beach.
We had planned to go to Badjao at Seafront for the sunset, but we decided instead to go back to Baragatan and get some pasalubong. Dinner at Kinabuchs—of course, we had tamilok!—and then coffee at Itoy’s.
“You live too far away / your voice rings like a bell anyway”
Track 10: Amber – 311
The hardest part of any trip is packing your bags to leave. (It was especially painful for me, though, because it was at this point that I realized that I lost a bag of souvenirs during one of our adventures.)
And then there’s actually leaving.
Palawan is a beautiful, beautiful place. And we’ve only been to one city! There’s still El Nido, Coron, and the other municipalities of this long island. I’m back in Manila, it’s already started raining, signalling the impending end of the summer, but I’m still listening to summer music—Bob Marley, and soundtracks of Surf’s Up, 50 First Dates, and Cool Runnings. Obviously, I’m still hung over. Haha!
I therefore conclude that I must return to Palawan. Thank you, Lord, for creating such wonderful islands!