It's More Fun in Palawan!

Sunday, September 9, 2012
The Philippines boasts of 7107 islands. Interestingly, the one with the largest land area home to a UNESCO World Heritage site and, just recently, inaugurated as one of the new 7 Wonders of the World is Southeast Asia’s last frontier - Palawan. Sure, there are lots of tourist attractions scattered all over the country but a visit to this province, particularly Puerto Princesa City, is unlike any other; definitely not overrated, just pure astonishment.

I live in a quaint small city often regarded as one of the cleanest, if not the cleanest, within the country. A visit to Puerto Princesa instantaneously dethroned my city in the shortlist. During the first few hours of my stay, I’ve been too busy looking for rubbish deliberately thrown anywhere which, by the way, turned out to be such an embarrassing failure. The city can’t be cleaner and it can only be attributed to the locals whose discipline is seen as exemplary. Respectful, gentle and kind are only among many initial impressions that they have set in my mind. I appreciate being able to roam around the city’s commercial district without fear of snatchers, swindlers and other people alike. Adding to the bunch of surprises is the fact that the city still covers majority of the tourist attractions with the Subterranean Underground River having approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes travel time and Honda Bay Wharf about 30 minutes away from the city-center. Yes, it’s HUGE so Davao City, step back! However, it’s not necessarily about how big the city is because a huge chunk of the people’s interest is captured by WHAT the place can offer.

The Subterranean Underground River has more to offer beyond it being a river inside a cave. It flaunts a perfect balance of the eco-system and a sustainability that does not weaken through the bulk of tourists coming in and out. Admittedly, the underground river in Palawan is not the sole natural attraction of its kind in the planet but what makes it far ahead of the rest is the fact that it measures 8.2 kilometers long; making it the world’s longest. With such a long (45-minute) quest, you’d be lucky to be with a tour guide whose sense of humor enhances the level of experience even more. A job like theirs not only demand strength (for paddling) but also calls for intellect (interaction, fact sharing and humor). I’m all hands-down on their multi-tasking. Apart from the subterranean river itself, the marvel of the flora and fauna will take you back to what the world had been – clean, green and untouched. A strong sense of coexistence between man and nature, though rarely seen, is very much present in the location. Monitor lizards, squirrels and other wild animals are free to roam the area without fear. Perhaps, that’s something you wouldn’t experience elsewhere but in Palawan.

The fun doesn’t stop with the country’s representative to the New 7 Wonders of the World as El Nido, the new owner of the number one spot for tourism in the country, will likely make jaws drop out of total awesomeness. They say it’s like heaven on earth but my motion sickness wouldn’t let me have a taste of it only because of the long trip from the downtown area (approx. 7 hours). I’m not really in the position to say much about the place since I really haven’t been there, yet. Honda Bay did the trick for me. Though not at par with the aforementioned attraction, it had me excited over one very amazing experience – being swarmed by fishes. Never in my life did I anticipate having a date with these fishes that actually don’t fall short of guts in dealing with people. Furthermore, the white sand beaches of the islands scattered in the bay will, somehow, ease your longing for the Boracay experience (minus the night life, of course).

Not to be forgotten is the tour around the city and a visit to the Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center which gave me an opportunity to be up close and personal (well, not really that close) with the crocs. There lies the remains of the croc whose size is next to that of Lolong’s, officially the world’s largest crocodile in captivity.

Surely, a week’s time in Palawan will be too minimal to explore all that the province can offer. If you’re after a bang-for-the-buck type of vacation, do consider Palawan as your next travel destination because It’s More Fun in Palawan!

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