Back to the Past IV: Palawan
Another post in my “Back to the Past” series! After my first backpacking trip (to Xi’an, Datong and Pingyao), Vietnam & Cambodia, and my first trip to Philippines, today I want to remember that time I went to Palawan. This visit was actually included in my first trip to the Philippines! It was in November and December of 2010 and I spent 3 weeks in the country, most of the time in Manila where I stayed with my friend and his family.
Palawan is the westernmost province in the Philippines and it is undoubtedly the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my life. Do you need proof? Well, here you go.
Palawan is popular with tourists but most of them choose to go to El Nido, which is located in Palawan island itself. My friends arranged the trip and they chose to stay in a village called Coron, in Busuanga island, north of Palawan. It was a good choice as there were very few people there. During the day we rented a banka (spider-looking boat) to go island hopping and enjoyed an endless sea and deserted little isles all for ourselves. Our “guides” (the guys driving the boat) would cook fish and rice for everybody while we snorkelled, and for dessert we would have the sweetest mangoes I have ever tasted. Then at night we would stroll around the village and have dinner in one of the restaurants. And we felt tired after too much sailing and swimming, there was also a hot spring very close to Coron village.
I had never snorkelled before. I am short sighted and never wear contact lenses. I was afraid I wouldn’t see a thing. But turns out I saw better underwater, and anyway the corals and fish are so close I could see them perfectly well! In one of the snorkelling spots there was a sunken Japanese vessel from World War II. Of course if you can dive you will see it better, but just snorkelling you can touch it. It gave us an eerie feeling.
I so want to go back to Palawan!
To get to Coron you first need to fly to Manila and then take a domestic flight to Busuanga airport. From there, it is a 40 minute car ride to Coron village (better if you arrange it with your guesthouse beforehand). We stayed in a small hotel that consisted of several huts called Princesa de Coron. To rent a banka for your day trip you just need to walk to Coron wharf and ask the guys around. Remember to pass by the wet market before to buy some food (fish, pork belly, rice… ) that your guides will cook for you at lunch time! Buy enough quantity so they can also eat! If you don’t have swimming mask and snorkel you can hire them in the wharf or in your boat. Don’t forget to bring tons of sunscreen and apply it frequently!