Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

June 30, 2008 (Monday) – We woke up early at 5:30 a.m. on Monday (June 30) as we were to be fetched by the van at 6:30 in the morning. I already talked to the driver yesterday so that he’ll take us to the City Market before going to the wharf. This way, we could buy stuff we would take to Honda Bay. The drop off and pick up service (the van would be waiting for us at the Wharf when we return from Honda Bay) would cost you Php1500. Again, I decided that renting a van and renting a boat would be cheaper for us than getting the Honda Bay tour offered to tourists. Island Hopping would cost you Php1100 per person so by renting a van and the boat, plus paying for island fees and food, we got to save some money.

By 6:45 a.m., we were already in the wet market trying to decide what sea food to buy to take with us to our Honda Bay adventure. We were told that you can have somebody cook the food for you in Pandan Island for a fee or if it’s just grilling, the boatmen can even grill for you as there are grillers available in Pandan Island. You have to provide the charcoal though. My sisters went their own way to buy some tomatoes, eggplants, salted eggs, and other stuff. Mavis and I decided to buy some lobsters (Php650/kilo), blue fin tuna, shrimps, and crabs. A man asked us if we wanted to have the sea food boxed so they’ll remain fresh on our travel and we paid about Php90 for it.We bought a small ice box and bought some ice just across the market. After buying breakfast at Jollibee, we were off to the Wharf!

It took us probably 20 minutes from the City Center to get to the Wharf. You’ll see a big sign board that says “Welcome to Hunda Bay” once you turn right to the Wharf. You have to register at the Honda Bay Tourist Information and Assistance Center to get you a boat to the Islands and you can even rent snorkeling gear (snorkel and mask) with them for Php100/set. The Aqua shoes would cost the same. I’d rather bring my own snorkel and mask as we’ve tried their gear on our second time to go to the Islands and water comes in the masks no matter how I fix it. We were bringing our own water shoes so there was no need to rent them.

Since were 9, we rented a big boat for Php2500. That’s for island hopping to 3 islands but you have to pay extra for the island fees. If you want to save, you can ask other tourists to share with you the expenses. For a smaller boat, I think they charge you Php1500. The boatmen and his assistant would provide you with a swim vest which you need to wear every time you’re on the boat. They would also help you know where to find and feed fishes. Or if you’re going to Pambato Reef, one of the boatmen would help you go to where the corals are.

After registering and paying the boat fees, we slathered ourselves with more sun block and off we went!

If you’re going island hopping in Honda Bay, you have to pay a fee for swimming on the islands’ beaches as they are owned by certain people or corporations. I’m not sure why Palawan had to sell these islands or how this happened. As of now, the only island you can go for free is Snake Island. Anyway, here is the list of fees to the islands on Honda Bay.

PANDAN ISLAND 25Php/person
COWRIE 25Php/person
LULI ISLAND 50Php/person
DOS PALMAS 500Php/person (30 minutes)

JUNE 29 – Our last stop on our self-guided City Tour in Palawan is Baker’s Hill. This property on a hill is owned by a retired US navy and is known for its breads and lifesize character figures in its garden. Baker’s Hill as a tourist attraction is a perfect place for picture-taking especially for those who have children. They have a number of hilarious figures that people can pose with. After several photos with the figures, we decided that it was time for a break and so we went down to their canteen which serves food and breads. You can order Squid Balls, sandwiches, barbeques and most of all, "Halo Halo".

Halo-Halo which literally means “mix-mix” is a popular refreshment among Filipinos which basically consists sweet beans, jackfruit preserve, sago or colored tapioca pearls, minatamis na saging (sweetened bananas), ice, milk and sometimes leche flan (crème caramel) or ice cream on top. It’s probably called "Halo Halo" for the mixed ingredients or for the actual act of stirring and mixing the ingredients together once it’s served. There are several versions of the halo-halo but I have to say that the one they have on Baker’s Hill was really good. They also have several sungka trays which you can use while passing time or waiting for your food to be served. It is the Philippine version of Backgammon. I actually got addicted to playing it that I want to bring a "Sungka" back to Qatar. I even found a Sungka in Pandan Island and played it there too!

Going to Baker’s Hill is probably the best way to wrap up the Palawan City Tour.

Still on our first day, we were able to go to the Crocodile Farm after visiting the Buttefly Garden. Since it was a Sunday, the Crocodile Farm only opens from 2-4 p.m.I think Mavis had to pay Php50 for adults and Php20 for children.

The crocodiles are considered an endangered wildlife in the Philippines thus the Crocodile Farm was institutionalized. The entrance to the Crocodile Exhibit was interesting because in the hall were the bones and skin of a 19-ft long crocodile which was captured only because it “accidentally” ate a human. It is the remains of the largest that was ever captured in Palawan. It was kept alive but died some moths after captivity. A tour guide is available and would show you around the Farm and some intersting facts about the crocodiles.

We were taken to the crocodile nursery where young crocodiles are kept in large basins. As little as they were, a glimpse at them can already elicit fear as they already have sharp teeth and can leap but not high enough to get out of the basins. This is were they grow the crocodiles and would eventually be placed back to their natural habitat after some months. You would also be taken to pens where the adult crocodiles live. Some of the bigger ones are solitary while the smaller ones share pens. There is a metal bridge suspended on top of the pens. Although sturdy, somehow it crossed my mind whether the bridge was strong enough to hold us. Thank God it did!

The best part of our visit to the Crocodile Farm was being able to hold a real and live crocodile, just a small one of course. If you’re brave enough , you just have to pay extra 30 pesos for the photo opportunity. Another group who were there weren’t that brave and decided not to hold the baby croc. The croc itself was not that big and its snout was bound by a rubber band. Even so, it was scary to hold the crocodile after all an ordinary rubber band can easily snap. Luckily it didn’t when we held the croc. Xiane, a brave little girl that she is, also held the crocodile in her hands without hesitation. I had to support her hands though because it was a little heavy for her.

It’s nice that Palawan is conserving its wildlife, including the crocodiles. And the Crocodile Farm is a great place to infrom and teach people that even "scary" crocs deserve to have their place in Palawan.

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Butterfly Garden in Palawan is a small sanctuary for butterflies. We went there on our first day after our lunch at Kawayanan Resort. We hired a van for Php 1500 for 3 hours instead of taking a packaged City Tour which would charge Php 600 per person.

Before you enter the garden, visitors are asked to watch a 5 minute video about the butterflies and the guidelines to follow while in the premises. Visitors are not allowed to touch the butterflies at any time. Inside the garden you’ll find lots of wonderful flowers of different colors, most of them I’ve only seen in this garden. Too bad though, when we visited it was drizzling, preventing us from seeing a lot of butterflies which I assume would be flying all over if it wasn’t drizzling. We saw just a few but still the place was such a nice place to shoot photos. We also had the opportunity to see a butterfly come out of its cocoon. It was a sight to behold.

The entrance fees for Filipinos with valid IDs is 25 pesos/head and 15 pesos for children and 50 pesos/head for foreigners.

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It's been 10 years since the San Juan Family started their blog documenting their lives in this little spot called Qatar. Follow Chris, Mavis and Xianelle as they share what Doha has to offer.

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