Mar 14, 2011

Philippines adventure

Feb. 3,2011- The adventure begins....

We had left Hong Kong and were ready for a wonderful relaxing holiday in the Philippines in Palawan. So after flying into Manila for Hong Kong, we waited in the worst airport ever for our flight to Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Finally at about 6 pm we flew into Puerto Princesa, we were here and relaxing could begin. We waited for our bags and then went to the counter to find transport to our hotel in Coron. The guy looked at us very confused and told us our hotel was in Coron, we said we knew so how do we get there. He said you can't, not from here. There are only two flights that go to Coron and they leave on Tuesday and Sunday but today is Thursday. There are no boats, vans,cars, tricycles anything that can get us to our hotel. So we were going to have to stay in Puerto Princesa for the night and try again in the morning because everything at the airport was closing. Being Chinese New Year of course, everything was booked.  The tourist center guy was nice enough to call around and try to find us a hotel. He found us the Circon hotel. The air conditioner fell apart so I had to help the guy who worked there try to fix it because he couldn't. (good thing I was there) then he was trying to show me how to get hot water for the shower but instead he just looked at me and said, "Oh well, not working tonite, but maybe tomorrow." Haha alrighty then! The roof was caving in and the paint was peeling off the doors and walls, there was no phone and no fridge, or well anything really for that matter but there was a bed and that's all we needed to get us through until the next morning at 6 am when we would be back at the airport trying to get a flight out of here to our proper destination. Everything is sold out as far as they know but we will try. We're going to have to get a flight back to Manila and then fly to Basuanga and then forfeit out tickets back that we already had. If we can't get a flight we're going to try to book a hotel in Narra but only tomorrow will tell.

Feb. 4,2011- Leaving our dodgy hotel to continue the adventure
So today did not start off too well. We hadn't gotten much sleep due to a power failure in the middle of the night so we had no air-con in a boiling hot room, so it was more like a sweat box than a room. Also the thought of not knowing if we would have a place to stay the next night was weighing heavily on our minds. We checked out of our hotel and got on a tricycle to the airport at about 6:30 am. However, the tricycle that we happened to acquire on this fine morning didn't work very well and kept stalling on the way there. We did make it to the airport at 6:45 am despite the constant task of our poor driver having to start his bike every 5 mins. The airport doesn't open until 7:30 though so a 45min wait for us. The problem was that I had not been feeling very well so I took some very strong drugs to try to fight the infection but I took them on an empty stomach so my waiting time consisted of my puking up my green pills for about 10 or 15mins. NICE!!! My mom went off to try to find something open at this stupid hour in the morning as I sat by my green and blue vomit hoping that it would stop. 
At last the airport opened and we both ran to different airline kiosks to get a flight my mom went to Air Cebu and I went to Air Philippines, both had flights but mine was cheaper at a whopping $11,000.00 PHP. So we booked them and then found out that they only take cash, so I stayed as collateral and my mom went all over Puerto Princesa with a very nice tricycle driver. She ha to go into five different banks before she found one that would take her Hong Kong card. The tricycle driver had started coming in with her for the last three as I think he thought she was doing something wrong or something. He'd squish himself inside the tiny little kiosk with her and tell her which buttons to push. haha! When she got back, 20 mins before we were supposed to board we paid the tix which with tax came to $11952.00 php and the guy looked at it and said, "Oh I don't have change" to which my mom calmly replied, "just keep it" The flight to Manila was very nice, brand new plane (from Canada) and was very short with a lovely cabin crew. I sat beside this little old lady who clutched her rosary with both hands for the entire 1 hr flight. The second flight was not as nice it was only about 50 mins but the plane was smaller and older and you could feel every bump of turbulence in the air. after landing in Basuanga we had to find a form of transport to get to Coron. So with fingers crossed we attempted to find a van or something to take us. We found one right away and were packed into a van with 10 other people and their luggage for $150 php each. Slowly the van emptied out as people were dropped off at their hotels. Finally it was our turn, so the driver drove towards the water which I would consider a good sign. Sweet hotel on the water but then he stopped and looked back at us and said, "oh boats not here yet." okay bad sign! WE need a boat to get to our hotel? Where the heck are we staying? So he went to drop off the rest of the people in the van and come back to us later. We went back to the pier and still no boat. We were beginning to wonder if our trip to our hotel was ever going to end. The van driver called our hotel and they said they would send a boat for us. So the boat finally came and after a 2 day journey we were finally here! We got to Uson Island where our hotel was and found that this island is probably only named because it has one small resort on it and nothing else. Our room was okay but one of the first things we noticed was that there was no tv. they gave us some welcome drinks which were some coconuts with straws, I love those ones. The resort has a pool and free sea kayaks and wifi although neither of us brought a computer to access this free wifi with. After unpacking and getting settled we decided to go into town for dinner and drinks. So we got a boat back to town (which is about 10-15mins away) and then walked around and had dinner. It gets very dark very fast here as there are no street lights or anything but you get a wonderful view of the starry night sky. While we waited for our boat to come back to pick us up there was a tiny little boat that came in full of vegetables and such. First it was just a few little guys unloading this boat but slowly more and more people just came down to help out. It was really dark though so I couldn't really get a great pic though, but it was very cool. We got back to our resort and had some margaritas that would burn your insides out and then went to our room to play some cards games, read our books and go to bed. Also feel as though I should add there is no power here between 9am and 6pm in order to conserve the generators. 

Feb. 5th -The day to work it all out so we can enjoy the rest of our trip!!
We got up and went for our free breakfast which was a very lovely American breakfast with loads of fruit. We also met the manager of the resort, Jo, Jo had heard about our flight delays and problems and wanted to come over and offer her help. She spent all afternoon on the phone while we swan and sunbathed by the pool. Once she made some progress she came over to tell us she had found us some flights out of Busuanga and to Manila but she couldn't get a flight to HK as no one dealt with out of country flights in the town and we would probably have to book them online or when we got to Manila. So we said no problem and went into Coron town to pay for our flights. The lady at the counter was the worst cow ever and told us we had no booking and basically to get lost. Finally after great urging to keep checking I told her I was going to phone Jo and her boss and miraculously our reservation was found! TADA! So we got our tix and went a walking around town. It didn't really take very long and there was really anything to do but we did find this amazing little village all on stilts. I'm pretty sure that every town in Asia has one though since they don't really seem all that rare to me anymore. I did take pictures of it of course though. then back to resort for dinner drinks and games.
 Feb.6- Pool day
Not much happened swam, got burned, had some drinks and food and booked an island hopping trip for tomorrow.

Feb. 7- The day I was supposed to go back to work but didn't/ island hopping

So an early start today for island hopping. We had our breakfast and arranged our lunch and off we went in our little boat with the two best tour guides ever. Our guide from the resort was Jimson which was awesome cuz he's totally my fave from the resort, and our driver was a guy names Solomon who was the nicest guy ever, not super English but super nice and beautiful. (too bad he's married) The first place we went to was the twin lagoon, which has an indigenous tribe that you can see there. We had to get off the boat and right into the water and then swim through a cave into this gorgeous lagoon. It had mountains all around and amazing coral underneath. It's also one of the cleanest lakes in the world and is 20% fresh water and 80% salt water. Unfortunately our camera died here. Next we went to Kayangan Lake, you have to climb up 150 steps and you can go into this amazing cave and see this amazing view of the water below. and then go down 150 steps to get to this gorgeous little lake with Crystal clear water. Here the mixture of water is 30% salt water and 70% fresh water so it's easier to dive under and look at the fish and coral. There was a cave that you could swim into although it was a pretty tight squeeze to get into so if you're claustrophobic probably not a good plan. Then back up the 150 steps and down 150 to get to our boat. Onto the last island Banol Beach which was amazing because you could go snorkeling an see so many different kinds of fish. It was amazing and fantastic i wish I could have just held my breath and stayed under water for way longer it was a whole other world. 

That night we also convinced our tour guides, Jimson and Solomon, to come and do video Karaoke with us which was very fun and lasted for hours.