It all started with an IM from Tif, an invite to a group outing to Puerto Princesa with some of her officemates, and Jeck, a common friend we have from Rangefinder Filipinas. There was a promo over at PAL, and they had already booked their tickets. The hesitation was instant: Tif and Jeck were good friends, and Madel and Catz were people I’m familiar with already, but there’s also the being with other people I’m not sure I could get along with. There’s also the question of cost: my out-of-town trips have always been funded, from not-so-recent Baguio and Batangas, to out-of-Luzon trips to Batanes and Camiguin.
This was Palawan, though, and long before these airline promos came into existence, its always been known that its cheaper to fly off to Singapore than Palawan.
So I gave in. I wasn’t with a non-existent sweetheart, and all expenses will come from my wallet (got it from blog revenue!), but hell, why not?
I always bring a unique dilemma to trips: wondering which cameras to bring. The DSLR will be brought, this wasn’t a Rangefinder Filipinas outing where I would get peering eyes by bringing a non-film camera. The Horizon 202 panoramic camera will also be in the bag, for landscapes and beaches. I was not so sure about bringing the Seagull 4A TLR camera, because one thing I considered was that my gear should be rugged. Though, I didn’t want to have regrets, so its in the bag, too. The Yonguo YN-465 flash? Well, I do have my pop-up flash already taped, so it will come with me.
The night before the trip was spent online, as I overslept most of the day. I was considerably early at the airport, brain half-numb, until one by one these made-up women started lining up for the same flight. Each one had Mutya ng XXXX sashes. The visual jolt was better than any coffee or energy drink could give me at that time. I badly needed that, and was glad it was a free, unexpected perk.
The flight was an hour short. Sadly, not one of us got to sit with any of the beauties. Jeck and I did take photos of each other, specifically with the very sexy Mutya ng Subic Bay, but mine would be better kept on the hard drive. We got our ride to Lola Itang’s, settled, paid for my share for the room with Jeck (800 pesos a night with aircon, and cable tv), and realized it will really be just the five of us, without the aforementioned officemates. Good, I thought. Tif, Jeck and I would only be here for 3 days and 2 nights, so vacationing should be the main goal.
We met our tricyle drivers/tour-guides when the rest were gathering their ATM money. They had suggested an itinerary, and went on about the advantages of going with them, vs. a van tour. I had heard about this already, blogger friends Karla and Sha told me they had done this when they went there. We decided to talk it over lunch, and they brought us over to Rene’s Saigon restaurant. Vietnamese food was definitely one of my must-eats on this visit.
I had spicy fish that was sizzling inside a small stone bowl, which was recommended by the server. Delicious, not all too spicy, with a sweet tang to it. We all shared fresh spring rolls, and no one was complaining.
The decision to stick to the impromptu tour guides was made, and the first destination was the Irawan Crocodile Farm. It was too tourist-y a destination for me, though.
A small zoo of animals can also be found inside the vicinity, and a mini-jungle with very interesting backdrops under the early afternoon sun.
We were then brought to an elevated area where we can see the islands of Honda Bay, and then we were off to Baker’s Hill for pasalubong-shopping. Yes, pasalubong-shopping on the first day of the trip, but this was solely because the two highlights of this trip were all-day events.
Binuatan Creations was the next stop, and the mention of traditional weavers got me giddy. As expected, the mix of the colors and the actual weaving made for great photo-subjects.
The last stop was for more pasalubong, and for the expected bag of kasuy for the office.
Sleep-deprived and tired, we were back at Lola Itang’s for the evening. We still weren’t sure where to go for the next few days, but yes, we will be sticking with our tour guides. I woke up around 3AM the next day already.