Palawan: Third Time's the Charm

Palawan is the first out-of-Luzon-island destination I've ever visited, and it remains to be up there among my favorites.

It helps that we are spoiled rotten on every single trip - one of the perks of having a friend who is a local. All we ever had to do is literally show up on their doorstep, and her wonderful family takes care of everything - transport, accommodations, even food!

Our first visit was in 2005, back when we were still living off our college allowance and "piso fares" were unheard of. So we went there via a twenty-four hour (!!!) boat ride, details of which I can scarcely remember. I do recall the on-board television system playing Deep Blue Sea (a shark movie) at some point, which was, well, appropriate.

We had a very crazy schedule that involved waking up at 3 in the morning, 7-hour trips over rough roads which had us bumping our heads against each other every 20 seconds, jellyfish-infested waters (as I was shouting hysterically the kuya was lazily plucking said creatures out of the water and chucking them away), and some noontime snorkelling complete with baby shark sightings (okay, it might actually have been tuna but the fear was very real). We went home with huge grins, tons of pictures, and some very intense sunburns (some of which were immortalized through less than flattering graduation pictures).


Three years later we went back, and this time flew in via CebuPac, where some kuya proposed while we were thirty two thousand feet up in the air. I think it's a cop-out, proposing in public. I mean, it's not like the girl would say no and risk humiliating someone she loves but may not necessarily want to marry.

Anyway. October is a tricky time to visit, because it's monsoon season. Parts of it felt very Pirates of the Caribbean - we were literally sailing off into a misty haze - and it was as exciting as it is scary. The good thing was there were no jellyfish, and no sunburns as well.


Last weekend's trip, though, was a bit different. We were in Palawan for a wedding. The wedding (apparently even tricycle drivers and tour guides were talking about it).

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I've never really understood why people cry at weddings, but when I saw Jakes walk down the aisle looking all radiant I found myself getting teary-eyed. And I still don't know why! Maybe it's the music and the perfectly-timed shower of rose petals. Maybe it's me getting all sentimental, seeing her little brothers and sister all grown up (they were babies when we visited!). Or maybe it's the fact that in typical Jakes fashion, she made us all wake up insanely early because her wedding had a 7 am call time. I don't recall ever waking up late in Palawan. Ever.

Morning grumpiness aside, I did manage to assemble the freshest face I could put forth with what little makeup skills I have acquired over the years.


After the ceremony we were whisked off to Honday Bay, where a couple of boats were waiting to take us to Dos Palmas, which was a good hour away. Who knew wedding receptions can be such an adventure. A few days later we found out that there was a low pressure area near Palawan at the time, and our boats were in fact the only ones allowed to set sail that day due to the bad weather. So I guess that explained the overly safety-conscious coast guards (made sure everyone on board was wearing a life jacket before we left the port), the incredibly rough ride (my carefully curled hair did not stand a chance), and the absence of any other boats in the vicinity. And there we were, oblivious of the danger, happily taking selfies and group-selfies (hashtag: kevinandjakes).

We did get to the reception all safe and sound, albeit with crazy hair (I had to repackage my curls as "beachy waves") and sea-splashed make-up. Nothing intense finger-combing and a wad of blotting papers can't fix. If you're wondering, the bride and groom arrived in a helicopter, with barely a strand of hair out of place. Grand entrance kung grand entrance.

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It's always awesome, seeing the girls. I wish I could see them more often.


After the short reception we were schlepped back to Puerto Princesa, where there is yet another party to be held. What can I say, bongga kung bongga, party kung party.

The next day we hauled our tired and extremely sleepy asses off to Sabang to re-visit the Underground River. Our first encounter was preceded by a four-hour hike following the "Monkey Trail" which felt more like ten years - at one point we were literally crawling through the jungle. Needless to say, by the time we were actually paddling through the river we were so exhausted to pay attention to anything.

Let us take a one-minute pause to acknowledge how incredibly skinny everyone is in this picture.
And ZOMG those shorts.
This time, however, we (wisely) skipped the trek and headed straight to the river. Actually it was more like we didn't acknowledge the existence of the trek, lest one of the boyfriends suddenly decides it was a good idea. There is no trek, only the underground river. NO TREK.


I guess you really miss a lot when you're dead-tired, because this time around I found the Underground River to be worthy of being one of the new seven wonders of the world. If you asked me two weeks ago what I thought of it I would have responded with "meh".

The entrance to the cave might look small, but it leads into this huge chamber with insanely high ceilings. There is something quite wonderful about being enveloped by something this enormous. It reminds me of the Pantheon in Rome, except this one is completely natural.

After the tour we headed off to Sheridan, where finally (!!!) we were able to relax.

Sheridan

It's a pretty resort, I'll give it that - you have the sea on one side, and the mountains on the other. I just wish they had better complimentary tea than Lipton's. I mean, seriously. Lipton's black tea. I don't understand.

The following day we packed our bags and headed home. I wish we could've stayed longer, but work beckons. It was short and sweet, Palawan, but I'm pretty sure we'll be seeing each other soon.

And best wishes to Kevin and Jakes, may your married life be even more fabulous than the wedding. ^^

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