Our Lady of Immaculate Conception church
So this time on the long bumpy âol road back to Puerta Princesa I had Christian for company. He wasnât too impressed though it seemed by my music taste, quote âI thought you were really nice until I met your ipodâ! Well, anyway we decided âfive finger death punchâ sounded like a great name for a cocktail so we decided there and then that we would invent one in Puerto Princesa
based on buko shakes. Our addiction to âbukoâ, the Filipino name for young coconut, had been steadily growing and was starting to get out of hand like the continual quest for wifi and aircon. Absolute luxuries..
We had both previously spent a day in Puerto on the epic journey to El Nido
but this time we were hoping to check out the famous underground river.
Like the pros we had become, we seamlessly negotiated a 40 peso fare on the trike, and expertly secured our backpacks on the back of the trike sidecar for the ride into town. First thing we did? Find a cafe for buko shakes, aircon and wifi! Only then were we happy and could relax... The people here seem very proud of Puerto, the capital city of Palawan
. On my way through to El Nido, the bus driver explained about severe penalties for littering. Once and you get a fine, twice a bigger fine, three times and it is âfree accommodationâ. Christian was told the same story it seems! Well, the city is nice, it did have a vibrant but safe feel to it and the streets clean, although horrible choking fumes from all the millions of trikes was not so great.
Trying to find an ATM that worked though was a bit of a mission. We were looking forward to getting some electricity in Puerto but frequent black and brown outs seemed to be a bit of a problem here. This seemed to be upsetting some of the local businesses who had put up huge signs saying they had to closed due to equipment failure from the electrical problems..
Next morning, after a huge breakfast of pancakes and fruit, we were picked up for our trip out to the underground river. We were taken on a minibus with a group of Filipino tourists. Immediately, we realised this was going to be a fun day. We were singled out for special treatment being a bit different and they all seemed intent on shocking us!! Well, anyone who knows me knows how funny this sounds. The tone of humour of the day was very much Benny Hill show.
Tamiloc, mangrove woodworm local 'delicacy'
Phnarrr Phnarr, âoooooo me ballsâ as we went over bumps in the road. âThis road we call abortion road and you will realise whyâ âyou get a free massage on this roadâ The driver speeding up as we came to a particularly bumpy bit to give us a âfree roller coaster rideâ. Actually, this road was nothing compared to the El Nido road! Do you think I was shocked? Well, it was funny and my tummy ached not from the road but from constant giggling..
After stopping at a couple of viewpoints on the way we arrived at Sabang
beach to catch a boat to the mouth of the underground river. There is much hype in Palawan about this underground river, with a campaign to make this one of the new seven wonders of the world, so I was quite excited.
The entrance to the river was pretty spectacular, surrounded by limestone karst, tropical foliage, bright blue clear water in which you could clearly see a lot of fish. To Christianâs horror, we were made to don lifejackets and a crash hat and bundled onto a boat. The guys in the front seats were handed a torch as where we were going was DARK!! There were also millions (and i am not joking) of bats! The guide on the bus had told us that they would be sleeping, another attempt at humour I think as immediately we got inside the cave and the chorus and fluttering of bats completely overwhelms. Actually, it was quite a relaxing sound (Yes I would still like that bat relaxation CD for my birthday please). What started out as amusement from the guide pointing out limestone structures âthis one looks like an eagleâ âthis one looks like a dinosaurâ soon turned a bit annoying when every bloody piece of rock had to look like something âthis one looks like mother Teresaâ yeah right ok!
The underground river was an OK experience, nothing amazing if i am honest.
Was worth a visit for the scenery outside and the bats but the day was really made by the company we had on the tour. Lunch was prepared for us on a beach in Sabang where Christian bravely sampled a local delicacy, Tamiloc, basically a raw mangrove wood worm yuck! Supposed to taste like oyster but looked, well like a slimy translucent bluish worm. We made a day of sampling local treasures actually as later that evening we finally sampled durian ď For those that have not been to SE Asia durian, known locally as the âking of fruitsâ, is quite a scary looking large prickly fruit that when you open up has a rather ânotoriousâ odour. The smell is offensive to many, like a rotting babies nappy, and durian is banned from many hotels in Asia. We found a market in Puerto selling durian and the kind lady on the market even offered to prepare the durian for us and allowed us to use the area behind the stall for the âdeedâ.
hahahahahahaha, good idea!
Well actually, after all the worry, the smell wasnât as bad as I had dreaded (I have had a lot worse in Sweden hey Anne?) and the taste was pretty good, kind of creamy in texture. Quite nice.
Few cocktails at Fresh cafe rounded off an interesting day, then up early the next day to catch a flight onto Cebu
. Christian had booked a flight back to Manila
but we were having way too much fun so swapped it for a flight to join me. On the way to Cebu, there was an extremely appropriate article in the in-flight magazine that described travel buddies from hell and how to get rid of them by spiking their buko shakes ;-)