The Peak Tram, climbs 373 meters (about 1,200 feet) to the top of Hong Kong Island. Originally created for the exclusive use of the British governor and the wealthy Peak residents when it opened in 1888, today it remains highly trafficked and is one of the Hong's most famous attractions. You can hop into the tram from the Central district of Hong Kong and enjoy the ride as you go through midlevels giving you a spellbinding view of the harbor and the skyline of the city. This is a direct route to reach The Peak, while experiencing the local transportation. The ride is as fun as the destination.
These days, Port Barton is not for those seeking luxury, but rather for travelers who revel in exploring remote, rural villages. The town isn’t as well developed as other destinations of Palawan, and electricity runs on a limited basis, but the charm lies in its simplicity and slow paced lifestyle. It’s a bit of a hassle to get there and away, but the advantage is that there are no hordes of tourists to deal with. I personally enjoyed our stay here, and thought it was well worth the effort and cost it took to get there and out; I liked that we didn’t have to share the palm-fringed beach with hundreds of other tourists. It felt like my own private paradise. The glassy bay mirrored the sky and the bangkas, so the beach never looked the same whenever we caught a glimpse of it. The gentle sunrises and fiery sunsets were magnified, producing some of the most dramatic dawns and dusks I’ve ever had the fortune to see. The only flaw was that the bay was filled with giant jellyfish, so swimming is limited to certain roped off areas. The town of Port Barton is small, dusty and seemingly empty, until school lets out— then kids fill the streets with laughter. Bamboo huts are tucked into thickets of trees, far from the roads, but closer to the beach the houses are gaily painted concrete, bright shades of pink, blue and green. Pieces of cut up bamboo and rusted engine pieces litter each yard, and dogs wander around poking their snouts in everything. In truth, Port Barton has an abandoned air to it, which didn’t bother me, but it is unfortunate for the resort owners who have had to shut down their places of businesses, and for those who are currently struggling to keep theirs open. Even the bangka owners who have converted their fishing boats into tourist boats are now struggling to keep afloat.
We came here after Big and Small lagoons. The lagoon is named as such because you have to squeeze yourself to get into it. One by one, we try squeezing ourselves into that hole leading to the lagoon. The view, as expected, is beautiful. It’s like being in a secluded place paradise. It’s amazing and puzzling at the same time how this place used to be a cave. We spent a few minutes there, talking, swimming, and floating? Yeah, that’s the best thing to do with your life vest on!
This was the highlight of our trip. A three day expedition in the Palawan region. It commenced with a hike through the jungle to the river. The rest of the day was spent on bamboo raft floating down the river. The night was spent at a farmer's hut and the next day we continued down the river in small row boats. Spent the next day and night on a little beach that we had all to ourselves. The last part of the journey was slightly disrupted due to an imminent typhoon in the region so no boats were being allowed into sea so we visited an Cowrie island in Honda Bay before parting ways.
Nido Bay Inn
Standing in front of the beach, Nido Bay Inn provides its guests with an excellent location surrounded by stunning views of nature. The staff is friendly and accommodating and the rooms, though small and basic, are well-maintained and comes with en suite toilet & bath, cable TV and wireless internet. There's also a veranda on the upper floors offering a nice view of the ocean.
The Calamian group refers to the cluster of islands at the northern tip of the province of Palawan; Busuanga is the biggest and most populated island of the Calamian group; Coron Town is the biggest town on the island of Busuanga; and Coron Island is a gorgeous karst-ic (I just made that up) island a few minutes boat ride from Busuanga. Coron Island is inhabited mostly only by the Tagbanuas people, so that’s why most people opt to stay in Coron Town, and do their sightseeing from there. Island hopping around here usually means going over to Coron Island, which offers a handful of incredible lagoons, a whole bunch of bleached beaches, and some damn fine snorkeling. There are other destinations in the Calamian group, all for higher prices, of course, but there’s something for every budget. Tours A and B are, respectively, 650 pesos and 750 pesos per person, which should include a buffet lunch and admission fees for each of the destinations. You can organize a private tour, but be prepared to pay for the boat AND the admission fees for each place you should choose to dock at. Many of the tour companies are interconnected, and you may find yourself on a boat belonging to another company. Makes no difference, really, unless you paid more than you should’ve! The only real difference is the weather— if the sun is shining brightly, any destination will seem like the ultimate paradise we all want to see. If not, well, the water is still clear …and, heck, yer still on vacation aren’t you? Enjoy it Be warned: the pictures everyone advertises of Kayangan Lake is NOT Kayangan— only the parking lot, as seen from the top of the hill via the hike to the lake.
The unparalleled beauty of this secret piece of paradise is beyond words. Getting inside Secret beach will require on to swim through a small hole with sharp rocks waiting under and above you. It is challenging, yes, but the stunning view and experience you'll get once you've successfully went inside is priceless.
The abandoned Matinloc Shrine is located in one part of Matinloc island. Its emptiness adds an intriguing feel to the place. There's a group of limestone cliffs in the island which one needs to climb to see a spectacular 180-degree view of some parts of Matinloc island. Just be careful as the rocks are sharp and steep, one wrong move and you're in bloody trouble. For me though, this was one of the best highlights of our El Nido island hopping.
Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center
The last time we visited the center, we didn’t have the opportunity to show our dear readers a photo that shows how large and how long Rio is. Now, you can see just how massive Rio the crocodile is; just compare the size of that skeleton to our three lovely friends Agnes, Sam, and Reynen. These juvenile crocodiles were vicious! A few seconds after this photo was taken, that nearest croc with the open mouth suddenly attacked the fiberglass wall of its pen. It scared the wits out of me! The bite force of a crocodile, even a young one, is so strong that it can sever your fingers easily. After we had enough of the crocodile pens, the ladies stopped by the souvenir stalls to see if there is something interesting to buy. We love the crocodile stuffed toys, but they were quite expensive given our limited budget. Oh well.
Pray sincerely. Modern tech brought people to rely so much on social media, that they almost disregard the essentials of living simply. It felt so good to meet these kids who still have the values of Christian living. I saw lots of people pass by the Cross to take on selfies, it's not that I criticize them for taking photos because I myself is fond of taking memories into picture. What I wanted to remind them is the meditation that this season should be acknowledge.
Victoria Guest House & Cottages
It only took around 10 minutes from the airport to reach the humble but very cozy Victoria Guest House and Cottages, our home for the next couple of nights. Victoria Guest House and Cottages is an affordable bed-and-breakfast that does not only offer excellent accommodations but also acts as a tour agency, assisting guests in their Palawan tours and adventures. Warmth, friendliness, hospitality, and tradition all in one place! The entrance to Victoria Guest House featured gardens, native materials, and traditional paraphernalia such as tribal masks, clay jars, and gongs. A neatly arranged footpath led the way to our rooms and other areas of the bed-and-breakfast. Rock gardens, shells, potted plants, wooden furniture, and structures made of native materials all add to a homey, classic, friendly Filipino atmosphere. Aside from the friendly dog which roams freely around, Victoria Guest House also keeps some resident pets. They have a handsome black Mynah who can utter greetings and a magnificent serpent eagle who glares at passers-by balefully. Personally, though, we would have wanted these beautiful creatures out in the wild, not in cages. Lunch was worth the one-hour wait. We had a sumptuous seafood lunch consisting of huge bowls of Tinolang manok and sweet-and-sour fish. After we took our lunch, we started our Puerto Princesa city tour, which served as a warm-up for the coming activities.
Sta. Lourdes Elementary School
Station of the Cross.Lenten Season of today starts to become some sort of traditional memoranda but the truth is there's more than those crucial penitent. Catholic as we are, we recognize that Jesus died to save us and rise on the third day to justify the salvation.More than just a
The Lotus Garden Suites
Lotus Garden is a wonderful place to stay while exploring Puerto Princessa. Aside from wonderful and tasty dining options and very comfortable rooms, the hotel offers wireless internet, laundry service, airport transfers, room service and 24 hour front desk security. I felt very safe and welcomed while staying at Lotus Garden. The atmosphere is artsy and cheerful.
El Nido Boutique & Artcafe
This boutique and resto in one is a recommended stopover for lunch or dinner when in El Nido. The boutique sells fine Philippine handicrafts and shirts with unique designs. The upper floor is allotted for the resto which serves hearty breakfast, bread, omelette and other Filipino dishes.
By mid-afternoon, tummies started to growl despite the full, hearty lunch. Thus, we decided to go to the quaint and lovely Baker’s Hill to grab a bite to eat. Before that, however, we stopped at Rancho Santa Monica to enjoy a view of gorgeous Honda Bay and quaint Puerto Princesa City. When Senator Mitra was alive, he was a huge fan of horses. The Mitra family carried that tradition of his love past his death. Thus, it is no surprise that many horses roam freely here. A beautiful rainbow arched across the sky when we visited Rancho Santa Monica. It certainly was a good omen, don’t you think? We spent only a quarter of an hour in the Ranch before our tummies really complained. Well, it was time to have some hot merienda in magical Baker’s Hill. The verdant landscaped gardens, statues of favorite cartoon characters, brick pathways, and expertly sculpted topiaries coupled with the fragrant scent of freshly baked bread never fail to bring back the child in us. Just like our visit last year, we were transported to a fairy-tale world. Baker’s Hill’s resident peacock spread his tail in all its splendor! For many of our friends, it was their first time to see a peacock. Every time the creature rustles and spreads its tail, our friends let out a whoop of delight! Awesome!
Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (Crocodile Farm)
Formerly known as the Crocodile Farm and Nature Park, the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center serves as a sanctuary of the Philippine Crocodile that is endemic to the country. The Philippine Crocodile is currently included in the endangered species list and the conservation center is making ways to increase the number of the species. Aside from crocodiles, the center takes care of other animals like ostriches and endemic to the island of Palawan like the bearcat. My trip to the center was interesting, and maybe even a little scary. While waiting to begin my tour of the "crocodile farm" I paid a little money and posted for a picture with a young crocodile. In the museum at the beginning of the tour, a group of us learned about the largest man-eating crocodile caught in the Philippines. A glass box displayed the 5 meter skeleton and the massive hide of the creature hung above the box on a wall. Our group listened as the guide told us the tale of the half-eaten unlucky soul found hidden in the crocodile’s stomach. Not exactly the kind of news you want to hear before walking above a pit of huge hungry crocodiles. Which we did moments later. As we stood on a rickety wooden bridge mounted precariously over the crocodile holes, I gazed down at the ancient-looking monstrous beasts and shuddered at the thought of what would happen if someone accidentally fell over the thin railing. After a Q& A session on the crocodiles, our guide led us to the stinky crocodile hatchery. Hundreds of baby crocodiles small, medium, and large huddled together in giant holding containers. Overall, the trip was an adventurous and unique thing to do while visiting the city.
Puerto Princesa Underground River
We woke up early the next day at around 5:30 AM to have a quick breakfast. Even though eyes drooped and tired limbs gently screamed for us to crawl back into the covers, everyone was filled with excitement. It was the start of the real adventure, which begins with a visit to the eerie and majestic Puerto Princesa Underground River, one of the most well-known UNESCO Heritage Sites and one of the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World. After more than an hour’s drive toward the town of Sabang, we took a break at a popular stopover. Check out the name of this stopover. Quite a tongue-twister, isn’t it? We arrived at Sabang around 8:00 AM. Even at this early, there were already plenty of people. In fact, we needed to wait more than an hour to board our boat that will take us to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park at the other side of Sabang Bay Like guardians watching over the denizens of a clear, green sea, the towering limestone cliffs and secret beaches of Sabang Bay never fail to hold us spellbound. After a 30-minute ride, we reached the beautiful, white-sand Sabang Beach and the entrance to the National Park. Swimming is not allowed here because this is a marine protected area. The waters do look tempting. Entering the PPUR was like entering an alien world. Squeaks from thousands of bats, the calls of thousands of swiftlets, and the sound of dripping water from stalactites all form a strange cacophony of otherworldly music. Those dark spots are actually bats hanging upside down from that gigantic slab of rock. The streaks are their waste, called guano. Guano is used for many things such as fertilizers, lawn treatments, fungicides, and composting activators. The guys and gals listened intently to the guide and rower as he blurted out interesting facts about the PPUR. It was actually fun listening to the guides as they mix amazing facts with wisecracking jokes. If you’re the lazy type of person, don’t sit up front of the boat. That’s because the people sitting up front hold the floodlight. After an hour in darkness, we exited the PPUR and welcomed the warm, bright daylight. When we asked them how was the tour, everyone answered that they were simply amazed beyond words. No wonder they were very quiet inside the cave during the entire tour! Hehehe!
Plaza Cuartel- Puerto Princesa City
Our last stop for the day was Plaza Cuartel, a historic place in Palawan where a number of American and Filipino soldiers were brutally executed by Japanese troops during World War 2. Aside from the reverence and the solemnity, the Plaza is a cool place to hang out and to escape the din of the city. It’s a place where students congregate, where lovers whisper sweet nothings, and where veterans pay their respects to fallen comrades.
Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park
When you are on an island, diving underwater is your first instinct. Especially if there are beautiful corals underneath. Listed on UNESCO's heritage site list, this natural park comprises of some great underwater species and colorful corals. The reef expands to 181 km and is a major spot for marine biodiversity. Green Sea Turtles, Sharks, Dolphins and 360 coral species are some common sightings in these seas. So dive in !
Giant popcorn. A blue tree. Yellow bath sponges. Brains. There are scientific names for the coral, but I prefer these. We are at Apo Reef, and snorkeling here is fantastic. We catch a boat from Sablayan town to get to the reef. About 30 minutes later we bump into Apo Reef Island, and witness the water changing colors dramatically because of the sudden change in depth. There is hardly anyone around; the island and the reef are protected by the military and only a few people are given permits daily to regulate the traffic. Apo Reef is the largest atoll-like reef in Asia. It encloses a lagoon, but unlike most other atolls, the series of reefs forms only half a circle. It's the second largest contiguous coral reef system in the world after the Great Barrier Reef. Along with the surrounding Sulu Sea, Apo Reef, in the province of Occidental (west) Mindoro, is a national park. The word 'Apo' means elder or grandfather, so I'm guessing the reef's ancient. Before we get into the water, there's exploring to do. We trek up the lighthouse to get a lay of the land. The island is a weird one : on one side you have the prettiest beach with the bluest water, but turn and you'll be met with views of a mangrove. The lagoon has given rise to a thick mangrove forest, which we are told, is home to some crocs. How the heck did they get there? As we cross the water in a makeshift bamboo raft to go snorkeling, I'm thinking of Life of Pi and half expecting meerkats to jump on-board. It's eerie, but very cool. Apo is one of the best spots in the Philippines for snorkelling. A must visit for all snorkelling enthusiasts.