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20 February 2012

Puerto Princesa - Paradise? - Day 1

Rhuel and I visited Puerto Princesa, Palawan from February 7 to 10. Thanks to Airphil's version of the piso sale, we were able to get round trip tickets for Php350.00 per person. =)

Planning our itinerary and picking our accommodations were not difficult because we knew we were going to avail of a tour package. My friend, Rosanne, went to Puerto Princesa last year and she came up with a very helpful trip guide. She recommended getting a tour package.

Initially, we wanted to use Rosanne's travel agent too. However, we checked Trip Advisor and Rhuel decided to inquire with the pension house that was on top of the list. I sent an e-mail inquiry to Raq Pension and they offered lower rates (well, around Php300.00 cheaper than Rosanne's agent, hehe). We decided to book with them since we were impressed with the good reviews they got.Raq (and its travel agency partner, SMY Travel and Tours) charges Php4,875.00 per person for the airport transfers, tours, accommodations for 4 days and 3 nights, 3 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 3 snacks. They asked us to deposit a 50% downpayment to their BDO bank account.

Day 1 - City Tour

 We left Manila at 7:30 a.m. on February 7. We arrived in Puerto Princesa at around 8:40 a.m. The airport was quite small but it was orderly. We had to wait for a few minutes because our shuttle was not yet there. When our driver arrived, he immediately gave us necklaces as souvenirs. Feeling namin artista kami sa That's Entertainment.

When we arrived at Raq Pension, we were served welcome drinks. Don't expect shakes or cocktails though. We only got iced teas. Hihi. But we got some more souvenirs from the friendly staff. =)The room was okay. The entire building was kinda old but the room and comfort room were big and clean. Our room even had a veranda where we ate breakfast.

After resting for a few minutes, we decided to go out for lunch. The staff recommended Ka Inato. The kuya driver brought us to the restaurant. It was still closed when we got there so we decided to check out some souvenir shops across the street. I was able to buy super cheap pearl earrings and bracelet. Looking back though, I should have bought them at Tiangge Tiangge.

Lunch at Ka Inato was okay. We ordered grilled chicken that tasted like inasal. We had mango shakes too. Yum yum. Drinking mango shake is one sure sign that you're on vacation. =) 

After lunch, we went back to Raq in preparation for our City Tour.

At around 1 p.m., our tour guide Anne Thea picked us up from Raq's. Next stop was at the Badjao Seafood Restaurant (which we were not able to try, hmpf!) to pick up 3 tour-mates. They were balikbayans from the US, I think, but they're staying in Marikina. 

Then we went back to Ka Inato to pick up 6 more tour-mates. 2 were Manila-based Pinoys (mother and daughter tandem) and 4 were balikbayan relatives (3 from Australia and 1 from the US ).

First stop was at the Puerto Princesa Palawan Museum. Honestly, there was nothing to see there. Rhuel and I felt that we wasted a lot of time in that place. 

Oh well, at least I had a picture taken with my sister. Tee-hee.

Next stop was Plaza Cuartel. It's the site where several American soldiers were burned to death by Japanese soldiers.   

We proceeded to the Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral afterwards. It reminded me so much of the San Sebastian Basilica. Pati color, pareho.

Next destination was the Crocodile Farm. I did not enjoy the place. I'm scared of animals in general and I'm even more scared of crocodiles. It was a scary experience because the crocodiles were placed in sinks and I felt that they could jump out of the sink anytime. It didn't help that there was a kid who was banging on the sinks, thereby agitating the crocs. The tour group at the farm was so big so we could hardly hear the tour guide's spiel. 

 After walking around the farm, Team Anne Thea tried some crocodile sisig. I was hesitant to try it at first. But Rhuel told me we ought to try it. It was okay. Parang giniling.

Because we were running out of time, we had no time to really explore Mitra's Ranch. Sayang, it looked nice, overlooking Puerto Princesa. Rhuel was so disappointed because we only had a running tour of the place. Boo.

Baker's Hill was our next stop. It's a confused place - bakery, playground, restaurant, Disneyland, Hollywood and park. But their hopia was super yummy. We bought our Hopia Mongo and Hopia Ube on a Tuesday and we ate them from Friday til Sunday pero fresh pa rin. But the Hopia Baboy was out of stock. Boo!!!

Our next destination was the Binuatan Weaving Center. We tried weaving some stuff (unsuccessfully!). We also visited their shop where several woven merchandise were sold. The balikbayans enjoyed buying pasalubongs like placemats, coasters, etc.

Final stop was the Tiangge Tiangge. It's one big tiangge where you can buy pearls, shirts, kasoys, etc. The pearls there looked better than the ones I got from the souvenir shops. Sayang. We bought some kasoys which didn't taste good. Sayang. (Tip I got from Mama: You can heat the kasoy in a frying pan (no oil) or in the oven toaster. It tasted a bit better.)

Dinner was at KaLui Restaurant. It's allegedly one of the best restaurants in the city. You need to place a reservation though. Raq's staff took care of the reservations for us. The food was superb. I must say it was the best restaurant we tried in Puerto Princesa. We ordered their Catch of the Day. It's a set meal with vegetables and seaweeds. Rhuel had the tuna steak, while I had shrimps. Grabe, vegetables palang busog ka na. It was so yummy. We also ordered some sisig (bangus yata, I can't recall). And the best deal we got...tuna sashimi. Grabe, for Php195.00, we got around 15 slices of sashimi. And the tuna was so fresh. Heaven! I had buko and Rhuel had mango shake again, hihi. =)

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