I just wanted to post something before this deadly “nursing stress” starts taking its toll on my brain. So bear with the “boringness” of this post.
The trip from Baguio City going to Ninoy International Airport was blurry as we spent most of it in hibernation mode due to a very crippling hangover from the previous night. We arrived in Manila around six in the morning. But lo and behold, a friend who was supposed to pick us up didn’t show up. He was apparently occupied with saving souls and being Superman somewhere unknown. So, his stunt of abandoning four unfortunate souls with no remorse in the middle of Manila was somewhat forgivable. Despite this catastrophe, we were able to make it on time for our flight because I ended up calling my uncle to drop us off (bless his heart) at the airport. It was a little strange asking a favour from a person whom I had not seen for a decade but being resourceful is a must if you want to survive in this chaotic world.
First stop was the City of Puerto Princesa in Palawan. The flight from Manila to Palawan lasted about four hours. I remember talking to this lady at the Palawan International Airport about hotels and pension house. Her upbeat personality and her exceptional sales talk did an excellent job of convincing us to stay in De Loro Inn for three days and two nights. Of course, we also had to take advantage of our rights as “paying customers” to get what we wanted like an extra bed for my friend, a wider room with a flat screen TV, discounts and such. We paid about 3500 pesos for each person. This included our room with our individual beds, free breakfast and lunch, as well as the city and underground tours. It was unfortunate that I was not able to take a photo of our spacious room since we had dumped our stuff in our own bed before I even got the chance to do it. Besides, the fact that the junk unearthed from our backpacks and carelessly thrown everywhere is not a cool picture to look at either.
Simple yet elegant, Palawan is among the places I would like to visit again if given the chance. With its booming tourism, the businesses and establishments around the area make it like a smaller version of Baguio City but with lesser crowd, noise and pollution. It was also interesting to see numerous “sari-sari” stores made of bamboos and dried palm leaves lined up on the outskirts of this little town. The simple task of choosing a store from this throng of “sari-sari” stores to buy your sachet of shampoo can give you a headache which you must avoid if you want to keep indulging yourself in all the exciting activities Palawan has to offer.
As much as we wanted for things to go as planned, our short time in Palawan and the weather were inconsiderate of not letting us accomplished half of the rushed itinerary we had. The afternoon we arrived in Palawan was scheduled for city tour with two other guests from our inn. It was nice that the van we used was brand new and had air conditioner. This made the trip less irritating for my friends as I like to delude myself of being invincible from the hot, humid weather relentlessly scorching our bodies. I can probably tolerate being dropped in the middle of somewhere hot and humid but not the other way around. The misery of shivering, chattering teeth and feeling cold like a pathetic, frozen turkey being thawed with no end is already a nightmare for me. This is probably why the air-conditioned restaurants and shops we visited decided to conspire on my immune system the last day we were in Palawan that I had to literally crawl my way to Iloilo City.
Going back to the city tour, our guide was a very sweet lady who knew what she was blabbering about. With her passion of the subject, she bombarded us with interesting information about the history of Palawan including this tunnel below. I can’t really remember the exact details about this tunnel but this was where the XXX soldiers were gassed and burned down by the Japanese years ago.
The next day was a trip to the underground cave. We dragged ourselves from our treacherous beds at 5:30 in the morning to eat breakfast in the inn’s fancy dining area. We left our inn around seven and we were unfortunately an hour behind from our schedule. I almost went berserk over the fact that we had to wait inside the freezing van for an hour for these strangers who were supposed to join us to the underground tour. Nonetheless, after spending some time with these folks from Bataan, my annoyance due to their tardiness completely vanished.
The trip lasted for about two hours then we had to take a pump boat going to the underground cave. The entrance to the cave was simply magnificent with the lush cascade of vegetation covering the rocks. The clean, fresh water beckoning you to do skinny dipping was also breathtaking. I was tempted to just dive in like a mermaid but my irrational fear of Bigfoot and anaconda not to mention my lack of coördination in the water hindered me from doing the daring task.
Inside the cave was infested with millions of bats hanging in every crevices of the cave. I have never seen such numbers of bats in my life but the unique formation of these stalagmites inside the cave made me forget these creatures hanging in every corner. And as what our guide said, you have to restrain yourself from looking up or uttering the word “wow” when admiring these rock formations. Either you are going to end up swallowing “holy shit” aka. bat shit or “holy water.” Yes, our quirky guide Kuya Dave was hilarious with his puns, his corny jokes and his fake “American accent.” He was one of the reasons why our forty-minute underground tour was full of laughter and energy. In fact, I was more interested in whatever description or names of these rocks he was going to come up with rather than marveling at these stalagmites which never seemed to end. Don’t get me wrong, the underground cave was beautiful, but a tour guide who doesn’t have a sense of humour can be deadly especially if you’re in a dark place, and the only companions you have are these reclusive, screeching Dracula’s spawns.
I tried my best not to take pictures of any hanging bats!!!