Coron, Palawan. October 16-19, 2012. PART ONE: I rarely divide my posts into parts but I realized it’s because my trips haven’t really been “vacations” in a long long long time and so I am going to dissect this awesome 4-day getaway into two posts. Yaay. Our itinerary relied heavily on this blog post about this beautiful beautiful town and well I’m glad it was. It was my first ever time to visit Palawan and all I know about it are the pictures I see on postcards and the countless praises I’ve heard of the place. So many people have said that Palawan really is the “last frontier” – that untouched beauty in the country which have taken thousands of breaths away.
And so, I went there, with my awesome girlfriends and Pao, super excited but unsure of what to expect (we were super unprepared, I think), well maybe that contributed to the excitement. We stayed at the Coron Reef Pension House. It is this very affordable place, 1000/room/night and we were five in that room, so you can just imagine how cheap it was. The room was good enough for me especially since we were out in the town or in the sea for most of the day anyway. The people were very nice and changed our towels so often – Pao has his needs. The place was right on the dock and the bathroom drains directly to the sea. Crabs even entered our bathroom. Well, that was something.
Landing in Coron was an experience in itself. I had the window seat so I had the great view of the islands from up up above and you could see the different shades of blue surrounding each island, a very promising start. It was also pretty interesting that as we were descending, I couldn’t find a runway. There were just fields everywhere and the next thing I knew, we already landed on cemented ground. After spending a few minutes in that tiny airport, we were picked up by a van arranged for by the hotel. We paid 150/person but on our last day, we found out there were other van services that charged only 120, but no bad feelings there. Good vibes lang. After 30 minutes of driving through one paved road that cuts through forests and what looked like little mountains with no cellphone signal at all, we finally arrived at the town proper.
Day 1 was a bright day and we were scheduled to visit Mt. Tapyas and then the Hot Springs. But we needed to wait for a few hours before going up that mountain if we wanted to be there just when the sun’s about to set, so we went around the town first. After fixing our boats and tours in Nice in Paradise (very near our place – everything’s near to each other) we discovered Lualhati Park, which just a few minutes away. The place is hard to miss. It’s near the market but there was this large open space that makes you just want to run around, but we didn’t. We waked like normal people til we reached the edge near the sea.
After changing and resting for a while, we finally went to the foot of Mt. Tapyas riding the cutest pink and green tricycle with a very friendly driver. I thought at first we were actually going hiking and my slippers were going to give away but apparently the steps leading to the top are well cemented with rails and everything. There were some 700 steps according to the kid who was selling water bottles. He went all the way up with us, he really cheered us on, and shared different stories about the people who also went up that mountain, like a person who passed out or like his father who bikes down the mountain and his grandfather who owns a horse (he said before, horses can take you down the mountain, I’m not sure if it’s still allowed though). It was hot and it was exhausting. The view naturally got better as we went higher though and that helped a lot. We saw the “Sleeping Giant”, this mountain that really does look like a sleeping person, and on top, there was a platform where you can watch the sunset.
You could also go around the mountain which for me was the more exciting part. It was just tall grasses everywhere with the strong winds blowing our 30-peso hats away. There are small gazebos built, but like for the most part of Coron, just a few to preserve the place’s natural beauty. Apparently, Mt. Tapyas is named that way because during WW2, that side of the mountain was bombed and therefore na-tapyas. Not kidding, the kid showed us the side the tapyas-ed side.
We were able to catch the sunset, unfortunately, it was very cloudy and all you can really see is the color of the sky changing. Oh well, I was already too happy with the great view on the mountain. We went to the Hot Springs next. The place was pretty far. I think we were in the trike for at least 30 minutes. That trip was even more, um, thrilling because the only lights going to the place were coming from our trike or from another trike passing by. We eventually reached it and saw many tricycles waiting outside. It was my first time in a hot spring and I didn’t know it would actually be very hot, it took me quite a while to actually go all the way down in the pool (weak me). It was nice but not for so long, I think. We only stayed there for like 30 minutes, guess it wasn’t our thing. Haha.
We ended Day 1 by eating in the Bistro just across our place, then we ate in Ice Valley, this cute little shop which sells “ice snacks”, like Ice Monster. Stayed there because it had wifi and the vibe was good. After playing Taboo back in the pension house, we felt that we were old souls and so went out and ate in the market with the resto that was open 24 hours. The food was great and cheap, unlike the others that were already very ‘touristy’ price. I really hope we got to go back but we did get to try other restos on the rest of the nights.
On Day 2, Dorcas arrived and we went island hopping immediately. We fixed our own tour because the packaged tours can’t be done within one day. And so, we went to the nearby islands instead and saved the main attractions for Day 3. Island hopping for this day was still awesome though, the waters were sooooo clear, it’s really unbelievable. Save for getting really tired from snorkeling, the tour was great. The boat costs 1500/day for at least 5 people, I think, so sakto lang. I’d love to enumerate the islands visited for this day but I seriously don’t remember the names. But each island had something different though, like a cave inside, or a beach with mangrove-looking trees (I add “looking” because I’m afraid to say they were mangroves), etc.
Technically those are the first two days of our Coron trip. We went back to our place exhausted but pretty happy. Ate dinner at Coron Seadive Restaurant, played Taboo like the old souls that apparently we are, and slept and got ready for the next day. [Note: Grabbed these photos from Pao. Whee.]
We’re only young and naive still.