Puerto Princesa, Palawan: Last Day

Starfish Island, Puerto Princesa, Palawan

The last day, beach day, was when our group will be island-hopping at Puerto Princesa’s Honda Bay. Our tour guide suggested we should go to the wet market first, and buy food for our designated bangkero to cook.

I’m not an avid palengke-goer as I should be, but I was confident enough re one thing: we shouldn’t buy things we’d easily get in Manila. I didn’t lead the purchasing, but I think I got enough of what was offered there. Two noteworthy things: the fish were incredibly fresh, and huge compared to what is offered anywhere else. No red eyes spotted on any of them, too. And I did find lamayo, semi-dried marinated fish, which was a must to bring back home, I was told. I was advised though to pick it up when we get back, since it was kept in the freezer, and they’d pack it for me, plane-ready, too.

Freshest fish I’ve seen in a long, long time

The Honday Bay tour was obviously a tourist must-do, but, gladly, the boat-terminal didn’t reek of commercialism. You want food, you have to make-do with whatever is sold in the local stores. This isn’t a warning, its a fact-statement, and I do like it very much this way. Your fastfood fix is about 30 minutes back in the city proper anyway, though I find it ridiculous for anyone to want to have that here.

We had a boat to ourselves. The trip to our first island, Starfish Island, was pretty uneventful, though the smaller-island sightings were something to behold. I decided to keep camera-use minimal throughout the day though, as I think I already have enough photos to justify a vacation.

Clear waters, white -though not superfine- sand, and the late morning sun. Near noon, the skies darkened, and we had rain, which had us retreat to a cottage and eventually decide to have our lunch cooked here, if possible. It was, and all we had to do was wait.

Two hours or so after, I don’t know, I lost track of time, I was hungry, cranky, no one had breakfast, we were served our food.

Our Starfish Island Spread
Our Starfish Island spread

We had inihaw na tuna, liempo, kilawin na tanigue, a local kuhol variant in gata, and the 40 pesos-a-kilo of octopus, cooked as adobo. I wouldn’t want to blame it on our half-starved state, but the entire spread was insanely delicious, sans spoons, forks, actual playes to eat from. I ate from an aluminum foil sheet, so what?

The winner of the spread was a fish called surahan, or unicorn fish. Not the sort I’d be brave to buy at any market, but it came recommended.

Surahan/Unicorn Fish
Surahan/Unicorn Fish

The meat from this manna from the waters tasted like it came from the shells of crabs. We had it grilled, too, and wished we had bought a bigger specimen.

We headed off to Snake Island right after, where some went snorkelling, while I decided to see if I can get myself a tan. In less than an hour? Since our flight shedule home isn’t too far away? Highly unlikely, but I still enjoyed my dip, throwing the starfishes I found at Madel and Catz.

By the time we left the island, we probably had slightly more than an hour before our plane took off. Jeck, Tif, and I were already discussing alternative ways of going back, though we were intent on catching the flight, we weren’t willing to spend more than necessary. We had to get my lamayo from the market, though, so that’s a few minutes shed from our now Amazing Race-type of heading home. We got back to Lola Itang’s, hurriedly packed our bags, and skipped the banlaw part of beach-dipping, except for Tif. Hopped on the tricycle and we were off, off to another stopover. See, we haven’t tried Itoy’s Coffee during our stay, and I was told we should, we must. Being the sole, intent person for this goal, I ordered 3 black forest frapuccino’s, and exclaimed to the store attendants that we were in a hurry and that we were off to the airport already. I’m not usually this type of person, I’m always polite, and I always say my thank-yous at any service I get, but this was an exception. I still gave my thank-you’s, and left Itoy’s with a fistful of guilt. However, I’m not a fan of cold espresso with a whip cream topping, but for our predicament, it was apt. We needed cooler heads.

I’m assuming we had about 20-30 minutes before our scheduled departure, but we got to the airport and found the check-in counter closed. No panic ensued, at least on my end. I asked around, and we were eventually accommodated. Of course, we were scolded, and we weren’t in the position to give excuses.

The three of us sat side-by-side on the plane, and I had the window seat. This time, we had what looked like University kids returning to Manila from a convention. It was night-time when we landed in Manila. The second I saw my knapsack on the conveyor belt, I declared this vacation over.

The entire photoset of my Puerto Princesa trip can be found here

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