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PUERTO PRINCESA, PALAWAN, A HIDDEN TREASURE ………

PUERTO PRINCESA, PALAWAN, A HIDDEN TREASURE ……… thumbnail

Travel Review by CK

When I was in high school and going thru my social studies class, I remember Palawan because of Culion Island where they have selected as the containment area of all those with leprosy in the Philippines during the American Period. At that time, leprosy was still an incurable disease. And the only way to stop its spread was to isolate all those afflicted with it. People with leprosy were rounded up like criminals to be sent to the island, most certainly to die given that there was no cure. That is why it was called the Island of No Return. (source: www.ivanhenares.com)   I never had the chance to visit Culion because I focused more on the city of Puerto Princesa.  But one day, I promised myself to see more of Palawan.

The City of Puerto Princesa (Filipino: Lungsod ng Puerto Princesa), the capital of Palawan, is a first class city in the Philippines. According to the 2007 census, it has a population of 210,508 people in 33,306 households. It is famous for its crocodile farm, underground river and numerous dive spots. It is also the second largest city in the Philippines (after Davao City) in terms of total land area. The outlying parts of the city contain the hometown of the former House Speaker Ramon Mitra, Jr. (source: Wikipedia)

To get to Puerto Princesa, there are several domestic flights you can take from Manila.  I booked my flight with Cebu Pacific.  It’s just an hour and 15 minutes to get there.  When we arrived at the airport, the shuttle of Microtel Inn and Suites was there to pick us up which was very convenient and the hotel is just 15 minutes away from the airport.  Upon checking in, I found the schedule of the shuttle service and my first destination is go for dinner at the Kha Lui  – a very popular restaurant where you have to take off your footwear when you get inside the restaurant.  The specialty of course is their abundance of seafood in the province.  You should never leave Puerto Princesa without trying Kha Lui, the ambiance is very cozy, the food is excellent and the price is very affordable. The next day, I tried another restaurant, the Badjao Seafront Restaurant, again more seafood but this time, they have more variety on their menu.  This restaurant is actually on stilts and right by the water.  If you want more variety on the menu, Badjao is definitely a must try as well.

The next day I booked to go to one of the popular tourist destination which is the the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  To get there we had to take 1 1/2 hours road trip which 20% is rough road and then we get to the wharf and took a 25 minutes motorized banca ride and then we had to go for a short walking trail until we reach the point where we got our lifevest and hard hat.  We got on a paddle boat which only accomodates 9 passengers and the 10th person is the tour guide who actually paddles the boat.  It is a total of 45 minutes in and out of the cave. Inside the cave are spectacular limestone karst landscape with its underground river. A distinguishing feature of the river is that it flows directly into the sea, and the lower portion of the river is subject to tidal influences. The area also represents a significant habitat for biodiversity conservation. The site contains a full mountain to the sea ecosystem and protects forests, which are among the most significant in Asia.  It is something that is worth going even if I had to take off my fear when we were riding the motorized boat because of the unpredictable waves.

The next day, I took a city tour and it covered the Baker’s Hill, the Mitra Ranch and the crocodile farm.  The leg of our city tour is the market where they have variety of stores where you can get pearls and all other knick knacks like t-shirts, etc.  One thing you should never miss is to get the dried squid (daing na pusit) which is one of their specialties in Palawan.

It is definitely worth the trip to see Puerto Princesa.  So the next time you go back to your home country, don’t be a stranger, include Puerto Princesa in your itinerary and you will never regret it.









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