09.13.2009 - 09.17.2009
WHAT: Farmers' Backpacking Island Adventure
WHERE: Coron and its Minor Outlying Islands, Palawan
SPOTS TO VISIT: Mt. Tapyas, Calauit Safari, Black Island, Maquinit Hotspring, Siete Pecados, Kalachuchi, Kayangan Lake, Barracuda Lake, Twin Lagoon, CYC Island, Agkawayan Beach, Beach 91, Skeleton Wreck, Twin Lagoon, Culion Town - Land of the Living Dead, Museum, Church, Culion Pulang Lupa Trip, Lusong Wreck, Lusong Coral Garden, Malcapuya Island, Banana Island
WHEN: September 13-17, 2009
WHO: Me, Henilyn Langbayan Marinate, Winalyn Beto Snorkeling, and Thonielyn Robles Spooning-Forking-Knifing
WHAT TO EXPECT: The Super Sparkling Clear Water Beaches, Nature Adventure by land and boat, Seafood, Bonding, Bloopers, The Road, Island Hoppin, Snokeling, Corals and lots of Fishes, Ship Wrecks, Wildlife, Two Peice Swimwear + Thonie's Corporate Beach Attire, Relax mode, Picture Picture, lots of Mosquito repellant and SPF60, Expect the Unexpected and more... Sightseeing
DAY 1 Travel by Air / Land to Coron
Meeting at NAIA Manila Domestic Terminal 7:45AM. It’s been raining hard in Manila, fortunately there were no flight problems nor delays. Our flight Z2547 was scheduled to depart from MNL at 9:40 AM.
We opted to fly with Zest Airways since they had the earliest flight out to Busuanga, Palawan.
Definitely we had a Fresh Experience with Asia’s Most Refreshing Airline. Zest Airways, formerly Asian Spirit, is known for its unsafe plane landing. =o
And since lately, there were no bad news about their flights, we slightly did not mind the history of the airline.
Aboard their single aisle Airbus A320, we got seats right across from each other.
Our flight cost was only P488/pax (one way ticket). Super mura ng fare ng zest air, super sulit. May free Zest-O pa. hehe =)
The plane is small, but the interior is looks fresh, and new.
At 10:40 AM, we overshot the runway, with knees trembling and hands a bit shaky. And good God! We landed safely at Busuanga’s Fransisco Reyes Airport, (no injuries, walang labis, walang kulang).
And the best of the best news ever! It was a very bright shinning shimmering splendid sunny day! Here we are with smiles on our faces (mga ngiti ng anak ng dagat!) We picked up our check-in bags, which was manually or mano-mano distributed by kargadors.
I didn’t see any public transportation ( i.e jeepney, bus, taxi, etc… ) at the airport, so I guess there really wasn’t any. Good thing we have arranged our shared shuttle transfers with our resort before we left MNL. Upon exiting the airport we saw one of the resort reps holding a plackcard with my name on it.
Travel time is one hour from the Airport to the resort. Province na province talaga ang dating. There were cattle across the street, monkeys, mountains, trees, it was all green. It was a long unpaved, paved, unpaved, paved again, unpaved and finally paved road we took.
Finally12:00PM we arrived at Princess of Coron Austrian (POC), Resort & Lodging House.. We were pretty amazed by the landscapes and felt somehow relieved that the resort actually looked even better than the pictures posted in their website.
As we approached the resorts reception, these monkeys were the first to welcome us. For unexplainable reason they seem very interested when they saw Thonielyn. =)
While waiting for the key for our villa we already felt at home at the reception.. Quenched our thirsts with the free cold welcome drinks… Here we sealed the deal with our tour guide,.
Villa Nony is the largest of the 3 apartments. It is about 50 square meters and offers the exclusive bed-and bathroom.
Includes A/C, Fan, Cable TV, I Double bed + Additional Two Single Rollaway Beds
Also, it has a living room and office area. Outside there is a terrace with seating area and views of the pool and the garden.
And the most awaited Exclusive Bathroom… Mumumu..mah… Actually this is the sole reason why we have chosen this resort… It has hot/cold shower, toilet, futuristic switches, mirrors and lighting,.
Mumumu..mah… and it’s as if “Lady Gaga was here” was written all over the place.
Food was a fun experience for us. Since were working on a budget, we opted for turo-turo near the public market. It was already past lunch time… and we were all starved, but of course hindi kami obvious. (Below is an example of a traditional Filipino nipa hut in Rizal Street, there are more of these in Coron Town.)
As we were walking along the main road, ay wait! Correction! As we were strutting and striking poses along the main road… while picture taking of course, we found this cool place with good food...Lolo Nonoys Food Station. They served breakfast, lunch and dinner at very affordable and oh so reasonable prices. P50 per meal. And you get to eat under a mini kubo.
Pera pera muna,. Slightly worried (of course hindi kami nagpapa halata) dahil short ang mga lola mo sa moolah,. (at bakit short na kami kaagad? Dahilan sa cute kami at halos lahat eh hindi nakapag withdraw bago umalis ng Manila) We hired a Tricycle (the local taxi in Coron worth P8.00 per pax per way) and searched the town for any available Bank or ATM machine.
There were actually two banks we have come across Allied Bank which was offline, and Land Bank. Super relieved when we found Landbank’s ATM Online. At shempre di pwedeng walang picture dito… Eto ang ebidensiya… habang nagwiwithdraw si Win…
Around 3:00PM we went back to POC for Siesta / Spooning time…
TOURIST DESTINATION: Mt. Tapyas
The most kikay way to conquer a Mountain =) … By Stairs. Getting there, we took a tricycle ride to the (P8.00/pax). The way to Mt. Tapyas is situated just beside a community basketball court. The trail to its summit consists of 750+ steps but was safe and comfortable enough since it was paved and concrete.
Also, there are handrails along the trail to help you pull yourself up the mountain and there are plenty of rest stops scattered along the trail where you may stop and take a rest.
The climb to it’s the peak will take you less than an hour but may also vary depending on your physical condition. Hmmm.. (Thonielyn: “Girls, pwede bang mag pahabaan nalang tayo ng legs?!!”)
After a long, tiring trek, a huge steel cross greeted us as we reached the peak of Mt. Tapyas...
There is also a spacious view deck with cemented benches on the summit of the mountain where tourists can see the spectacular panoramic view of Coron town together with the rest of the Calamianes group of islands. Breathtaking view talaga! (Literal ito..)
And there was light! The cross was even awesome at night. The light bulbs planted on the cross, when lit, made it look like it was on fire.
After enjoying the amazing view from the deck, we left the place at around 7 p.m. and began with our trek back down to the foot of Mt. Tapyas. It was getting darker and darker as we descended the mountain. We could hardly see our path since there was not much light given by the lamp posts. Good thing Win has a flashlight with a built in cell phone. =)
Once in a while, we stopped to take pictures and rest (at oo, secondary lang talaga yung rest), until we finally reached the foot of the mountain at around 8.00 p.m.
Dinner at Sea Dive Resort’s Seafront Restaurant and Bar which is located on a pier in Coron Town. Food here was pricey, but not worth the pay. The only thing I enjoyed here was the location; the restaurant is on the bay with the very relaxing view of the water, nice ambiance.
Back at the POC Resort, we chilled out at the balcony, while Thonielyn amused herself watching the neighbor boylets swim in the pool.
DAY 2: Calauit Island Safari by Sea
We woke up early, got ready and then left POC at around 5am. Dahil sa sobrang kamamadali I mistakenly left the battery of my camera at the resort, so Henie, a.k.a. Darna, went back to find it. While we were all worried waiting at the pier here we took pictures para ma de-stress. Feeling that we were just in Hollywood.
Finally we are able to leave around 6am. We decided to travel by boat since we planned to do some island hopping after the trip. En route to Calauit, we mazed our way through Busuanga River. The trip took us about 3 to 4-hours boat ride from Coron Pier. Mahabahabang biyahe ito at Iisa lang ibig sabihin nito. Isa pang picture. Isa pa. Isa pa. at walang katapusang… isa pa.
TOURIST DESTINATION: Calauit Safari Park.
More than twenty years ago, President Marcos had decided after a meeting with Kenyan President Moi, to relocate endangered African animals here. The first 120 animals felt quickly at home and have now increased their herd to 600 animals.. mostly giraffes, antelopes, water buffalos and zebras. An African beach, which is commonly found Calauit.
Picnic breakfast at Calauit’s mini kubo,. Teka galit galit muna ha,.
After the meal, we were amazed by this herd of zebras gathering around the bushes nibbling on the grass. Here we are trying to take a decent picture as the striped animals go sneaking away out of the background.
Fully loaded and our energy is up again. Aboard the Safari’s Range Rover Truck. =)
Giraffes (aka Melman) are considered to be the tallest of all land-living animal species. Its coat is made up of large, irregular patches of yellow to black fur separated by white, off-white, or dark yellowish brown background. They usually stand about 13 to 18 feet tall with long neck and long legs.
Meet Athena, one of the female giraffes, single and ready to mingle. =) she was the very first to approach us and was ultimately friendly, followed by her son Beethoven.
Pwede ba namang wala kaming class picture with the Athena and Beethoven…
Calamian Deer, also known as the “Calamian Hog Deer,” is a specie of deer which can be found only in the Calamian Group of Islands of Palawan in the Philippines. It is one of three species of deer native to the Philippines.
Zebras (aka Marty)are best known for their distinctive white and black stripes. Their bellies have a large white blotch for camouflage purposes. Their stripes come in different patterns unique to each individual. Finally we got a slightly decent shot of their asses this time.
Palawan Bearcat is an endangered species and is one of the biggest land mammals in mainland Palawan. It looks like a half-bear and a half-cat and has a coarse and thick black-brown fur. The time we visited was not so suitable for the sleepy big Bearcat he as up on the tree yawning and resting. Single but not ready to mingle.
Porcupines are the third largest of the rodents with a coat of sharp spines that defend them from predators. They come in various shades of brown, grey, and the unusual white.
Crocs, need I say more? Marami nito sa Manila. Sa ilalim ng tulay.
Wild Boar, also called as wild hog, is specie of pig in the biological family Suidae and the wild ancestor of the domestic pig. Its body is compact, with large head and relatively short legs. Its fur consists of stiff bristles, which usually varies from dark grey to black or brown.
Yellow Stripped Nose Turtles
Only in the Philippines. Banato Camouflage Tree. Can you spot Thonie?
When the tour ended, we headed to the dock and found Manong Robin, Winalyn’s Calauit fling, who was selling various kinds of Crabs… namely, Babae, Lalaki and Baklang Crabs,. Amazed with how big they are we bought ourselves 1.5 kilo of Balkang Crabs worth P200. After buying we e all thanked the staff of Calauit Safari left the park at around 2:00 p.m.,, and then headed to Black Island to eat Lunch.
Sobrang hunger na nga. We had Buffet lunch on the boat, which was prepared by our boatman. Catch of the day: fish, chicken and vegetables. =) And of course we had the best view available…
TOURIST DESTINATION : Black Island commonly known as Malajon. A large volcanic rock island. It offers a long sandy beach, walk-in caves, and lots of scenic views.
Cast away? While walking/ striking poses on the sandy coast… we came across this stranded vessel. A ship wreck, so as they call it the Black Island Wreck, which is located just off the beach front. Research has shown that the origin of this 150 ft coastal vessel is still not known. It sits upright but most of its body is buried down under the sandy slope with its remains showing about 10inches above the sand.
We headed out to trek into the Black island’s Swim-able Cave located up the mountain. Which we did not dare to swim. =P
Snorkeling Point: Lusong Coral Garden. Located a few meters northwest of Calis Point, the south point of Coron Island. The water here is not that deep; you can already reach for the corals at arm length. Still Manong Edmond, our boatman, instructed us not to go too near them especially since there are lots of sea urchins.
Sneak peak: This is how it looks like down underneath the water… Two words. Spectacular! Spectacular! Lots of corals! Actually those were the biggest and most colorful corals I have ever seen!! We immediately felt in love with the place. Win even decided to convert her last name to Snorkeling.
I can’t describe the experience of going underwater, and seeing all the stuff we saw. It was like a giant aquarium but with 1Million times the things inside. We fed some fishes and right away we were surrounded by the bluest fish I’d ever seen. They didn’t hesitate to bite us and it hurt a bit! And they would sometimes nibble on your feet. Here applies the saying “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”
You don’t need to learn scuba diving to see a sunken shipwreck! Located at the Southeast corner of Lusong Island, beneath the shallow waters… lays the wreck of the Gunboat / Submarine Hunter which was used by the Japanese in World War II; same as the coral garden, corals are just arm length away from the surface.
This is equally a great spot for snorkeling and underwater photography. The wreck has been salvaged and the entire top has gone. It is nicely covered with sponges and soft corals, and has many fishes and sea cucumbers.
When you first go under water, you lose all your hearing senses and all you feel is like you’re trapped in a vacuum box with sounds coming from somewhere yet they were inaudible. And I just focused on seeing coral after coral, fish after fish. I remember telling myself to take a mental picture of this experience because this was something I was going to remember for the rest of my life.
TOURIST DESTINATION : Maquinit Hotspring; Therapeutic and Natural Spa.
It was a 30-minute tricycle ride from the POC Resort. A man-made pool with free-flowing hot mineral salt water. There were two mini pools adjacent to the spring, both cascading water down into the larger pool. At the far end of the large pool, between the mangrove forests, the water flows directly into the sea.
Marinating 101. The water was hot and salty and was very much needed after hours of snorkeling and flipping around and all that modeling stunts earlier. To tell the truth this was my first time ever to dip into a hot spring. I must say very relaxing talaga ang feeling ng pinapakuluan..
Remember the “Baklang Crabs” we bought earlier at the Calauit? We have requested the POC resort to cook the dish for us.(150 paluto fee). Yumyum. And we were all solved for dinner.
DAY 3 : Buhay ng Anak Dagat
Spooning in the morning
Snorkeling Point: Siete Pecados (Seven Islands) Marine Park Myth suggests that seven kids swam from the main island to escape it and follow their parents. They all drowned and the place where they drowned is where the islands are now present.
Here we are after eating breakfast and getting ready to snorkel.
Have you ever experienced snorkeling while holding hands? Very sweet noh! First time ni Thonielyn to snorkel in the water, and due to insistent demand. We have finally convinced her to try it. Here we are getting ready….
This is one of the best sites to snorkel in Coron. And here I saw the biggest black and white striped fish swimming with us, and other tropical fish id never seen before. Fishes here are bigger (larger than both hands combined) and they are a bit more aggressive compared to those at Lusong Garden. The water here was so deep yet I could still see the sea bed.
TOURIST DESTINATION : Kalachucci Cove, named rightly so after all the kalachucci flowers spread all over the beach.
TOURIST DESTINATION : Kayangan Lake.
Meet Mr. Edmond Decena, our tour guide, while he shows us where we are located in this big GPS.
Going to the lake, we had to hike about 50 steps up the mountain.
At the top, we went over the cave and took a glimpse of the Blue Lagoon. This view is the most photographed area in Palawan. At naging best view pa ito nung napasama ko sa pic. =)
Then after trekking down about 30 steps, you’ll now see the lake, which then left us in awe with such a view like setting staring back at us as if it was saying “welcome to paradise”.
The Lake The water here is deep, you need a life vest, and snorkeling gear to be able to enjoy your swim in it's crystal clear water. The lake water is a mixture of salt and fresh water.
Rafting ala Amazona. Finally we got the whole lake to ourselves.And since we had life vests we were brave enough to row into the center.
Lunch Buffet was also included as part of our tour. Our boatmen prepared our lunch for us; they grilled fish, pork and chicken on the boat, and to top that they also have vegetables. Talk about a complete meal. SOLVED!
TOURIST DESTINATION : Barracuda Lake
Hidden beneath a collection of stone walls, just like the entrance to Kayangan, this lake is accessible by trekking above the hill. They said its about 15-20 minutes until you arrive at the lake. Since it was low tide our bangka was not able to dock so we just took a picture of the main entrance.
TOURIST DESTINATION : Twin Lagoon
Two lagoons connected by a small tunnel underneath a rock formation. It is dangerous entrance added the appeal and challenge to tourists who dares to go to both lagoons.
During high tide guests who wanted to enter had to dive below avoiding the jagged edges of the limestone cliffs. Good thing we arrived when it was still low tide; thus, made it easier to swim through the entrance.
Spoiled by our tour guide, we took the raft to enter the lagoon. And also brought him in with us so he can take pictures while we are swimming. =)
TOURIST DESTINATION : Atwayan Beach seaweed beach. nothing much to see here. This island has several huts where friends and family can picnic, chill out and relax.
TOURIST DESTINATION : Beach 91 is just one of the many white sand beaches you can find on the island of Coron, Palawan. It is a small, cozy beach with small huts
Grooving groovy.. Hindi pwedeng walang Cheerleading Expedition
Snorkeling Point: Skeleton Wreck. Located in Coron Island, near Beach 91 and Atuayan Beach. It has one of the shallowest shipwreck sites in Coron and the wreck was however not that visible, only a ghostly appearance of the wreck can be seen from the surface due to its murky water.
TOURIST DESTINATION : CYC - Coron Youth Club Beach locals said this used to be a nice beach but now full of garbage. The sand in the beach has been depleted also. Off-shore, they say is a good spot for snorkeling because of the abundant corals, but we weren't able to check it out.
Dinner at Coron village Lodge Bar and Resto