I’ve dreamt of going to that province for the longest time. I remember, ever since seeing the place somewhere on TV or reading about how beautiful it is there (I can’t remember which, exactly), I told myself: someday, I will go there. And I did. Before 2009 ended, I was able to see a part of Palawan, Philippines.
It’s ironic how we got to book the trip on the day we got flooded. I remember coming out of my room that morning, totally jubilant, because I had just booked my flight to Coron, and then all that joy got wiped out when I saw the water rising up our street.
But let’s not talk about that.
It was a trip I looked forward to after the entire flood thing. It was a trip that I looked forward to after I suffered through major burnout last November. It was a trip that I wanted to experience to make my 2009 a little bit better than it was turning out to be.
And what do you know, it was.
Now, I won’t be able to write down every single detail that happened, so let me put them down in bullets and photos. :)
- Coron is a province. I haven’t been to Puerto Prinsesa yet, which is a city, but Coron is far from being a city. I don’t think I saw any cars, save for the vans we rode, and everything is walking distance. And don’t expect to see anything like Minka Aire there, because there’s none. I almost thought we would be landing in the middle of nowhere as the plane descended when we got there. This was my view:
It was a bit unfortunate that while we were there, the island was having electricity problems. Then again, we were always out of the house, so it didn’t matter anyway. :)
- Food in Coron isn’t that cheap…save for a few places. Two restaurants we went to (one we dined in, the other we didn’t) were not cheap AT ALL. Sure, they’re yummy, but it’s almost like fine dining.
- However, there is one place that is very cheap and filling: Coron Bistro. Or is it Bistro Coron? Whatever, it was really good and filling and quite cheap too. :D
- After all the hullaballoo at the house during our first day, we set off to go up to Mt. Tapyas. According to Toni, it’s 720 steps up the mountain to see the cross. At first we thought it was easy — after all, it’s not 1000 steps — but we were complaining by the 150th or something. Haha. :p It was well worth it, even before we reached the top, though. Just look at this:
- And I think it was only me who thought the journey up the mountain was significant, especially since we were trying to get to the cross at the top. :) Now the obligatory picture with the cross! Excuse the darkness and the blurriness. :-)
- What feels good after a long trek? Soaking in a hot spring. :) After Mt. Tapyas, we headed to Maquinit Hot Spring, somewhere in the depths of the forests of Coron. Okay, just kidding. It’s somewhere in Coron, but the travel to the hot spring kind of freaked us out because we had to go through this dark, dirt road surrounded by trees, and it was absolutely dark save for the light of our tricycle and we couldn’t help but feel paranoid about our surroundings. All good, though. I wonder how different it is if we traveled during daylight.
- The hot spring was HOT. And full of algae. But the heat of the water felt really good. :D Watch out for ghosts, though. ;)
- We started early on our second day, but first breakfast by the bakery! Simple things like these seem more fun because I’m with good friends. Look at our oily faces!
- Our Day 2 itinerary included: Twin Lagoon, Barracuda Lake, Kayangan Lake, Malcapuya Island and Banana Island. I think we wore ourselves out swimming during this day and hoping to see fishes but we hardly saw anything. We might have seen something swimming in the depths of Barracuda Lake, but we’re not sure. ;) Oh and the picture I posted here? I saw it with my own two eyes, thanks to the strangers who pointed us to that direction. :D
- Guess who was dead tired that night? :P It was okay, though, since we had a big dinner, followed by a short drinking session (at least, for me). Apple vodka FTW. :)
- Day 3 started out really early because we had a four hour boat ride ahead of us. Yes, four hours — all the way to Calauit Island Safari. The boat ride wasn’t that boring and I didn’t get to sleep because we ended up playing all sorts of games — even charades! — while we were on the boat. Oh, and even the clouds are prettier in Coron:
- Oh, and I miss my stars in Coron. The skies in Coron are filled with stars that I didn’t even know existed — and the skies are so clear that you could spot a shooting star every now and then. I was lucky enough to see one before the sun fully rose on our third day. :) When I got to Manila, I was saddened by the fact that there’s fewer stars visible in the sky. :(
- Calauit Safari was fun and definitely an experience, although I kind of wished there were some predators around. Photo ops with the giraffe and the deer were notable experiences, though. :)
- The rest of the day was spent island hopping and snorkeling all over again. This time, we saw tons of fishes that we fed. Some of the fishes were aggressive and bit our hands before we even released the food! Awesome. And the corals — just so beautiful. This is when I wished we had an underwater camera because words are not enough to describe the underwater beauty we saw. Seeing beauty like that makes you wonder how people could think there is no God, you know?
- And probably the coolest thing we did when we were in Coron was to go to the Shipwreck. I’m not sure what shipwreck it was, but Coron has nine, so it’s one of them. They say it’s the only shipwreck in Coron that didn’t have any casualties, but I’m not really sure. :P The sun was already setting then, so the water was kind of dark and it took a while for me to see the shipwreck. Then suddenly, it just popped out in front of me. It was cool and creepy at the same time. I bet it would have been prettier if there was more daylight, but there’s a certain effect the darkness had with the shipwreck. :P
- We didn’t have a drinking session on the last night because everyone fell asleep. L-)
- Last day of the trip was spent eating breakfast, buying pasalubong (and apparently, fresh seafood is super cheap in Coron — P120/kg for crab and P350/kg for lobsters — but I didn’t buy any because I am one of the unfortunate people allergic to that. Pfft.
- We spent the rest of the afternoon talking by the house and getting to know Patrik, the owner of the guesthouse we stayed in. He’s a great guy and the place is very peaceful and affordable! If you’re going to Coron, make sure you check out Swewa!
- Then it was back to Manila. Sigh.
It’s definitely the best vacation of the year. :) I couldn’t ask for a better end of the year thing. Despite the bad things that happened in 2009, I will look back fondly at this year because of this vacation. :)
Where to, next?