I have only been to Puerto Princesa City thrice but I feel like I’ve been there more than that. On the plane, I realized that it was the first time I would be arriving at the Puerto Princesa airport. I always flew straight to El Nido and the two times I was in PPC, I took the 8-hr bus ride from El Nido.

Since H and I have been to Puerto Princesa before, we didn’t have to take the City tour anymore. We took the opportunity to explore previously-unexplored areas instead.

Here are the changes that I noticed occurred in the past two years:

    1. My second-favorite restaurant, Dang Maria’s Main is now closed.

dang maria's the restaurant

    1. Sitting next to my favorite restaurant Ka Lui along Rizal Avenue is The Lotus Garden, a restaurant that has an ambience that rivals that of Ka Lui.

lotus garden floating table

  1. Kinabuchs has now improved and expanded – the monobloc chairs have been replaced and a roof has been built over the previously open space towards the front of the grill and bar.
  2. There are a lot of new inns to choose from.
  3. There seems to be a growing number of young “escort girls”. (Too bad!)
  4. There is now a coffee shop! Itoy’s Coffee Shop is now open. It looks quite an unfriendly coffee shop from Rizal Avenue but it has an open air garden at the back, which of course, we caffeine and nicotine lovers always look for. Coffee is reasonably priced and delicious to boot!
  5. There seems to be a thriving night life now. There used to be none at all. Night life in El Nido was much better in those days. At least, there was a live music bar (or live music bars during peak season.)
  6. There are only a handful of multi-cabs amidst the numerous tricycles. When one of the trike drivers was asked why, he said most of the multi-cabs had retired.

I had always wanted to experience Banwa Pension. I sent an email three weeks before for a reservation but I received no response. I thought it wouldn’t be so difficult to get accommodations since there were so many anyway but we were dead wrong. Apparently, it was already peak season, as evidenced by full Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines flights.

It took us quite an hour to get to a place to sleep in. This is not to say that there were few available rooms, though all the known inns were fully-booked, but we found it difficult to find a room with a big bed. We are used to a big bed and the thought of sleeping in two, separate single beds for two nights wasn’t our idea of a couple’s out-of-town trip. We ended up staying at the Tropical Sun Inn on Manalo Street. The Tropical Sun Inn is off Rizal Avenue which is the most ideal place to be in. Manalo Street runs parallel to Rizal Avenue and a tricycle takes a right turn from the Capitol Complex to get to the Inn. It isn’t too far and is good enough a place to stay.

tropical sun wedding reception

On our first evening, the garden was set for a wedding reception. It was actually quite lovely.

the couple's gazebo

After having a low-priced but very delicious lunch at Balinsasayaw Restaurant, we slept til 3 in the afternoon. We woke up with the intention of having coffee at Kamarikutan Kape at Galeri, but was dismayed to find it closed for the day. Sunday is like a holiday here, most establishments are closed.

kamarikutan kape at galeri sign by the street

We ended up walking along Rizal Avenue looking at crafts and souvenirs shops, my favorite place to buy beaded bracelets, anklets and necklaces. I get them for P50 here. Wonderful accessories!

After having coffee at Itoy’s, we proceeded to the Parola Lighthouse. We learned it was off limits to civilians but we asked for permission and were allowed to go in. We didn’t know we weren’t supposed to shoot anything, as the boats docked were those who have been apprehended for reasons we are not aware of. Of course it was too late when we were informed, we had already taken pictures. From there, we explored a beach that on the map we thought would be a good place to walk on or explore. It was not, but we found wonderful photo opportunities there.

No more city tours for us! We’ve been to those places before: The Badjao Seafront Restaurant, Mitra’s House, Crocodile Park, Baker’s Hill and Butterfly Garden. I have even been to the Palawan Museum, Capitol Park, Freedom Park, and all those tiny parks and even the citadel.

On the way back to Tropical Sun, I mistakenly told the tricycle driver the inn was to be found in Malvar St. Apparently, I got it confused with the Puerto Pension Inn whose address I must’ve seen in one of the many brochures I grabbed at the Tourist Information Desk at the airport. Looking from the outside, the Puerto Pension Inn looked like a very interesting and great place to stay at. I told H that when we come back, preferably in 2010 or 2012 and after we have the baby and he/she is grown, it might be the place to stay at. Maybe on that trip we’ll find the time to take a Honda Bay tour. I am not too keen on taking a Honda Bay tour as I know it is nothing more spectacular than Bacuit Bay in El Nido. Having lived in El Nido for a year has its disadvantages. After you’ve seen and been on those breathtaking beaches and waters, every beach anywhere else pales in comparison. Don’t take my word for it though. I have never been to Boracay or Puerto Galera.

We had dinner at The Lotus Garden since H wanted to try the Eat-All-You-Can Sushi for P370. We found the place to be really beautiful with spectacular ambience but expensive food. We spent a thousand bucks on the dinner. I was shocked. I know PPC to be place for wonderful, cheap food but the Lotus Garden is unique. For one, it is a branch of the international The Lotus Garden. That explained the price range. The staff was exceptionally warm and friendly, aside from the fact that the owner’s son was delectably handsome. It was hard to take slight. Hahaha!

We headed to Kinabuch for a nightcap. As I don’t drink alcoholic beverages anymore, I ordered for a glass of iced coffee in place of my usual cocktails. I don’t recommend having coffee at this place. It was horrible.

Then, we went home and slept early. After all, we were headed off to the Underground River early the next morning. And when I say early, I mean seven in the morning early. My usual day begins at twelve noon.

Written January 27, 2008

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The photos were taken with an Olympus E-500. Originally posted here.

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