Footprints in the sand - Pandan island
So would you believe I find myself attending my first church service here in the Philippines in the Manila Domestic Airport! There is only one large room and in the front the priest was ready with some nuns about, the candle was lit and the bible was out! Music was playing and pretty much everyone in the airport stood up to start singing...it was amazing! The service strangely enough was in English and we had holy communion too. Then at the end people came up to be sprinkled with something by the priest...maybe holy water? Boarded plane and the man who happened to be sitting next to me was attending a WWF conference, he is one of the vice chairmen. He told me so many interesting things about Palawan, the environment, government, poverty, he was just great.
Lunch being prepared - Snake Island
We were right in the front so were off first and waited by a tiny conveyor belt outside. This guy, Simon, told me that I needed to go to the little desk and show my passport. Can you believe he is from Winchester! Random. He is here again to buy a boat and travel around the whole island, lucky bugger! We both jumped into a tricycle and I was dropped off at Casa Linda. Was in the lonely planet and people said it was nice. Checked into an air con large room, stuck my bikini on, grabbed my snorkle and goggles and headed for Honda Bay in another tricycle. It was only 10 in the morning! 30 minute journey with great scenery, signed in at the Bay and got myself a boat, driver (joseph) and crewman (Jo Jo). There was noone else around to share a boat with, nevermind.
Local starfish - Snake Island
Rode about 30 minutes to our first stop - Pandan island. Over crystal clear waters to a snow white beach....ahh paradise. Joseph took me out snorkeling. He brought some bread, to attract the fish, yeah we cheated a bit. Amazingly colourful fish, starfish, parrot fish, nemo, but the scariest and craziest of all the fish in these waters in the Territoral fish....oh my gosh they freak me out. You would be swimming past minding your own business and next you know this thing comes charging at you looking about to attack! It can nibble you too, but everytime I would scream through my snorkle and switch direction as quick as possible! Had to do that ALOT! We then took a walk around the whole island. So so beautiful. The water was so warm too.
Next stop, Snake island.
Chema and myself enjoying dinner
There were actually quite a few people here. I was gathering some things to go for a walk down the beach, and so Joseph was too, I said he didnt have to go with me he could chill out for a while....so I left alone for a peaceful walk and snorkle where noone else was. So many starfish again and those scary fish that were out to get me! Oh and one of the guys fished out a stone fish....tiny one but deadly! Next thing I see Joseph walking towards me - he always has to keep an eye on me and make sure I am in his sight at all times. He is cute, doesnt understand English at all. Had a rest back under the huts, with the locals. Sampled some fresh fish being cooked in the back, and chatted to some Spanish travellers from Barcelona. Got an invite to dinner.
On route to the underground river
Fabulous! Went snorkeling again and drifted with a huge school of fish, large silver fish, it was awesome. Met a Filipino couple living in Shangai, they gave me some springrolls to eat.
Next stop - Starfish Island
Not much happening there, only a rundown shack with locals living in it. Did snorkle again, collected shells and was given a bird made out of grass. Its so beautifully made. I realised then how burnt I was...oops.
Back in my room the hugest lizard was waiting for me after my cold shower, it shoved its way before the mirror...hell. Had 3 cups of tea at the bar/restaurant area and started chatted to this English guy who has been working and travelling for 12 years. Wow, he was interesting and past the time till my date (Chema)arrived.
Underground river entrance
..on time too! Good man. Tricycle waiting, and it took us to a local restaurant which he recommended. Enjoyed some Californian wine and sizzling blue marlin steak and garlic rice. He just had the hugest chunk of sizzling steak! Our waiter was so entertaining and the company was brill. Off to a bar for drinks and pool. I kicked his ass. As we were sitting down Jason Mraz comes over the speakers - I love him. Then later that night Five for Fighting was playing....how fantastic is that...my favourite band in the whole world is playing at a bar in Puerto Princesca.
Monday morning - lady came to wake me at 6am as I didnt bring my phone or watch to set an alarm clock. Had breaky and my driver and guide arrived for my tour to the Subterranean River National Park in Sabang.
Beach to river
We picked up two ladies on the way, Filipino and Japanese, lovely women. Travelled for 2 hrs over the worst road in the world! The poor mini van. Passed loads of greens leaves with a few white ones in between. Cool. At Sabang we boarded our boat which took us to another breathtaking beach with cliffs on one side. Walked though a forest to the entrance to the river. Jumped into a smaller paddle boat and entered the underground river. I was flashlight controller. Its pitch black inside so needed it. Our guide chatted the whole way about the river, it was just so incredible. The river itself goes on for about 8km. We only do 1. Back out, to the boat and back to Sabang for lunch, Filipino style. Had coconut juice, cononut and chicken soup, chicken dish, pork dish, tuna steaks, marsh seaweed, cucumber and some coconut and coffee for pudding.
Fantastic meal! Fantastic surroundings, fantastic company. What a great day. Slept the whole way back. We drove through as Veitnamese Village, and stopped at the museum. I hung by some kids and watched them playing the Philippines national sport. They were amazing. Had loads of young boys slowly surround me and were being as smooth as ever! And saying yeah baby yeah...alot! Bought some fresh water pearls and left for my hotel. Tonight I will pop around to that bar again and meet up with Jowel and his mates. Jowel was our guide for the day.