Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

Puerto Princesa is the capital of Palawan, an island province in the Philippines.  I've always wanted to go there because of the infamous Underground River which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was nominated as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature (voting ends on November 11, 2011 so vote now!).  Finally, just last week, I got to go to Puerto Princesa!

Our first stop was Rancho Santa Monica owned by the Mitra Family.  I think it's open to the public so pass by this place to take advantage of the viewdeck offering the best view of Palawan.  The ultimate photo op!


Can you see Honda Bay?



On the other side, you can see horses and cows.

Our host Monmon Mitra (son of the late Senator Mitra) showing us one of the injured horses.

Our next stop was Governor Baham Mitra's farm house in Aborlan.  It's not elaborate, very simple really.  But I love how the house was designed!  Note to self: Send photo to Mum so she can build a similar house over our farm.


Less is definitely better.

The best spot.

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I'm thinking of sending the photo of the swing to my Mum as well but I remembered that we do have a similar relaxing spot at our farm.  Found a candid photo taken of me in our farm years ago.  I just grabbed it from an old site that's why it's a bit blurry.  



This is the life! ;)

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On the way back to Puerto Princesa, we saw something that awed us.  It wasn't the usual white sandy beach, skies were overcast and the water was a bit rough but for some reason we found it so enchanting that we had to stop and take photos.


Beautiful, isn't it?

A big revelation, too.  Our driver slash tourist guide was actually a photographer!  I learned about this when he asked for my camera.  When I asked why, he said he also does sports events, races and weddings during his free time  So I gave my camera to him and he snapped away while we were exploring the beach.  This was one of the shots he took.





After that, we passed by Iwahig.  Iwahig is famous for two things: First is the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm.  Yes, you read that right.  Prison FARM.  It's not the usual prison because prisoners are allowed to roam around freely.  They call it 'the prison without bars'.  And second is the Iwahig Firefly Tour.


The welcome banner.

The tour consists of a cruise along the Ihawig river to watch the fireflies.  For photo enthusiasts, I suggest bringing a camera that has excellent night vision setting.  Flash would be useless because it would drown out the lights of the fireflies.  

Welcome mat... and hut :))

If you're coming in a bit early, bring some snacks because there are little huts along the river where you and your companions can have a little picnic while waiting.  


Entrance to the river.

One of my favorite shots.. So picturesque!

For dinner, we went to Badjao Seafront since it's one of the popular dining places in Puerto Princesa.  The restaurant was built within a mangrove habitat but unfortunately it was too dark so we couldn't see the whole view. 


The dining area.

We ordered mostly seafood and a plate of Crispy Pata (crunchy pork).  We also got the Badjao lumpia (rolls) but I didn't like it that much.  It tasted like salty fish wraps but soggy.   All in all, the food was ok.  Nothing bad, nothing great.  But I still suggest visiting Badjao for the ambiance.  I could just imagine how beautiful the place would be during sunset.


Clockwise: Kare-kare, fish, their special lumpia and sinigang.

The next day, we went to the Narra campus of Palawan State University.  I know this is not a tourist destination but if you're going to Estrella Falls, which is in Narra, better stop by this school to eat.  

On the way to Narra, you'll see this unique coconut tree!

For coffee lovers: Oreo-based coffee shake.

Aside from the fact that there aren't much good dining places in the Narra area, you'll be helping University students by eating there.  The University allows students to put up their own business and to employ other students in the process.  The product of that is Sinugba, a little restaurant hidden inside the University, near the computer lab.  Entrepreneurial students run the place while the food is prepared and served by Hotel and Restaurant Management students.   Instead of a dining area, there are 3 nipa huts with a good view of the rice fields and the mountains.


Eating area.

After our Narra adventure, we headed over to Baker's Hill to buy pasalubongs (gifts) for family and friends at home.  Initially, I thought Baker's Hill was just a little bakery situated on top of a hill.  I was wrong.


A unique statue on Baker's Hill.

Baker's Hill was kind of like a mini zen garden on top of a hill.  One of us knew the owner of Baker's Hill so she toured us around the place.  They had different statues for photo ops, lighted walkways, little huts to hang out in and a pizza place!

The walkway.

I want to try this next time!

They also have a restaurant called Baker's Kitchen.  This is a new building because their old restaurant was converted into the family's private dining area and that's where we ate some snacks.


The restaurant.

The menu.

Don't forget to stop by the bakery in front before leaving! My favorites are the ube crinkles and ube hopia (ube is yam), the raisin bread (tastes exactly like the one from Baguio Manor),  assorted pastillas (sweet milk candies) and the best one of them all --- Pianono!


Bread rolled in sugar and filled with butter!

We had dinner at Kinabuch's Bar and Grill, another one of the popular dining places in Puerto Prinsesa.  Quite honestly, there was nothing great about the food and nothing spectacular about the ambiance.  Or maybe we ordered wrong, I don't know.  The only interesting thing that happened in the place was when one of my companions ate Tamiloc, which is a mangrove wood worm that looks like snot or a slimy umbilical cord.  Gross.   

Signage.

The next day we went to the City Baywalk.  There's nothing much to do around the area but to stroll around and take photos. 


The peacock is the Citywalk's landmark.

The area would probably be a nice area also to watch the sunset and the sunrise since there's a view of the mountain ranges from afar.


Another one of my favorite photos.

After that, we stopped by Itoy's.  Itoy's was named after the owners father, Benito Jason Marcelo, Jr.  One thing I liked about the place is the garden at the back.  But since it was too hot that day, we stayed inside.


Probably what Itoy's looked like 40 years ago (if ever it existed).

Everything on the menu looked so good, I didn't know what to get!  I settled for a caramel based drink called Zuniga Cafe with a side order of Leche Flan Cheesecake.  The coffee was good but the cake was disappointing.  I was expecting something unique since this was the first time I've ever heard of a leche flan cake but apparently, it was an ordinary cheesecake with little pieces of leche flan on top.


My Cafe Zuniga.

Leche Flan Cheesecake.

 My other companions ordered cold drinks, non-coffee beverages, brewed coffee and coffee with brandy. Yes, coffee with alcohol!  They call it Kape ni Tagle.  You might want to give it a try when you visit.


Assorted drinks.

The sun was finally shining the next day so we went to Honda Bay.  We paid P250 (around $6) per person for the boat and P100 (arond $3) per person for the snorkeling gear.  Don't forget to buy bread to attract the fishies.  Also, for sale and rent are underwater cases for digital cameras.  Fortunately, mine's waterproof.




The first island we saw was Luli, short for lulubog, lilitaw (rise and fall).  Depending on the tides, the island would appear and disappear.  Hence, the name.


Luli Island during low tide.

The next island we saw was Starfish Island.  Obviously, the island is surrounded by starfish so if that's your thing, better stop here first. 

Starfish Island.
Since the winds were getting strong, we headed over to the farthest island to go snorkeling --- Snake Island.  I think I'll just bombard you with photos instead of talking about our island adventure.  Pictures speak louder than words, anyway :)

We're finally here!

Ocean on one side, mangrove on the other.

Getting ready to go snorkeling!

Just one more goofy photo by the mangroves!

Beautiful, colorful fish!

Good thing we brought bread.

Schools of fish just a few feet away from me.

Letting them eat the bread from my hands.

It doesn't look like it in the photo but that's a HUUUUUGE fish right there.

Amazing how they're not scared of people.

Bread supply running low.

Should've brought a huge net of bread! Next time.

Shallower part of the ocean.

I know you're wondering where my photos of the Underground River are.  Unfortunately, due to the strong winds and waves, the Underground River was closed to tourists during my stay.  Well, on the bright side, it's another reason to visit Puerto Prinsesa again, this time with T.  Other reasons would be El Nido, Lagen, the Crocodile Farm and Estrella Falls.


Till next time Palawan!













9 comments

  1. First things first: ohmygod I love your shades-of-pink beach ensemble!

    Now that that's out of the way, I never knew there was some food-tripping to be had at Palawan! I've never been to Puerto Prinsesa - the only parts of Palawan I've visited are Coron and El Nido. The marine life is indeed very colorful in this part of the country, and I hope it stays that way for a very very long time. The photos of those islands you visited took my breath away! Just like the ones we saw around El Nido and Club Paradise!

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  2. Manila Girl. Thanks! :)

    I've been to Coron also and honestly, when it comes to marine life, I think that's still my #1. But foodwise, my vote goes to Puerto Prinsesa. I want to stay at El Nido soon though. And maybe Amanpulo? ;))

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  3. Gah! What a beautiful location. You have just given me a serious case of wanderlust with these pictures. I'm so glad that you had a wonderful time!! :)

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  4. Erika. Really beautiful place. Thanks! :)

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  5. Wow, what a beautiful place! I am so jealous of the awesome places you travel to.

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  6. MJ. Eating and traveling are 2 of my passions in life ;)

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  7. Can't help it I need to ask this: how do you keep fit with all the foodie adventures you have? I can't go through as much food as that without looking like a whale after! =(

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  8. Caloy. Haha!

    Clare. Believe me, I gained a lot of weight now! :/

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♥ joei