No, the day didn’t start at the beach, and it wasn’t really part of the itinerary. Moreso are the beauty pageant contestants in their bikinis that you see above, the same ones that boarded the same plane as our group did, though yes, I did take the photo, and no, I wasn’t friends with the official photographer. I was just there, and they were there, too.
So I’ll start now from where I left from the first post: I woke up at 3AM in the morning, with no dinner digesting inside me. I was hungry, but by then, well-rested. I only got to leave Lola Itang’s when the sun was peeking out, and even if I intended to go to the Puerto Princesa baywalk, as Jeck was already there shooting the area, my appetite got the best of me. I hailed a tricycle, and asked the driver where I could eat. He noted that there weren’t a lot of places open at that time, but he did leave me at a just-opened eatery, and I was happy-enough to gouge on some streetside chaolong.
All for 45 pesos. Slightly sour and spicy, and filling. I wanted the baguette, too, but figured out I can have that elsewhere. I did go to the baywalk right after, and took a few shots as well.
Jeck and I got around to going to a church nearby, as well as a curious historical park called Plaza Cuartel, where American POWs where burned alive back in 1944. We were about to go off to the palengke, but we were summoned back by the girls, as the van our tour guide rented was ready to transport us to Sabang Beach, the dropoff point so we can head on to the infamous Underground River.
Let it be said that most of us were going to opt out for today’s Underground River tour. As this was a budget trip, we were thinking this can be an optional in the itinerary. Our tour guides didn’t think so, and after much collective-convincing, we all decided to go.
Armed with my DSLR camera, a hotshoe flash, and Tif beside me using the boat light so I can autofocus, and for everyone else to see what’s inside, I don’t think there’d be any other photo-op like this that I would experience any time soon. How was it minus the camera? It stank inside from all the guano, but you’ll get used to it. So yes, I’m glad I went, I think everyone else was.
We had lunch prepared by our driver/tour guide, as arranged with one of the beach restaurants back in Sabang Beach. It was already in the early afternoon, we were famished, but all hunger seemed second priority when I saw this ongoing beach shoot from the boat from, oh, a mile away.
I did notice what looked like a beach shoot earlier on, before we went on the boat, but I wasn’t so sure then, though what was happening a few meters from where we were can’t be contested anymore. Lunch was easily set on my plate, consumed, had seconds, drunk two cold glasses of water, and I was off, off to where the shoot was, with a controlled grin, and a handful of hope that I could take some shots. Apparently, no one minded I was there.
We all hung out at the beach, even watched the contestants during their stage rehearsals. By late afternoon, it was suggested that we try the much-revered local delicacy, mangrove worms, or tamilok.
Unfortunately, unless we take the boat tour, we were told we would have to settle for whatever is left from the previous tour group’s harvest of tamilok. These were cleaned of its digested food, and soaked in vinegar. There was enough for everyone in our group to have a literal bite, but not enough to savor it. Woody oyster-taste? Probably, though I cant really say for sure.
The van ride homeward had two highlights: a marvelous sunset, and early evening hard rain that was a sight to see from the elevated roads. We had a dinner stopover planned, and despite the server’s recommendations, we all had steaming bowl of noodle soup at Viet Ville, where Vietnamese boat people built a community in some time ago.
Everyone had beef noodles except me. The Viet Ville Noodles had shrimp and squid, and had the perfect hot broth, accented beautifully by fresh sweet basil. The baguette was lightly toasted, while the roast pork and pickled vegetables complimented the crunch to the sandwich. Too bad we couldn’t tour the area anymore.
Right after arriving back at our lodging, and realizing this was our last night in Puerto Princesa, I convinced Jeck, Tif, along with Ning, to go out and see what the nightlife looked like. Kinabuch was the first destination, which reportedly had tamilok we could partake in, but alas, they didn’t have any that night. After they sipped their beers, and after seeing that this was white-guy and cougars night, we agreed to head off to a bar with a showband nearby called Tiki.
Like habit, we requested the band to have Tif jam with them. The request was instantly granted, as we wrote on the tissue paper that we were off for home later in the day.
We greeted our beds past 1am, and I was slightly distressed that this was our last day here. No matter, the last day was beach day.