Summer so far: Palawan (Part Two)

(click to view this photo on my photography tumblog)

On the second day of our trip to Palawan, we took a tour of the Underground River, which is now one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. I didn’t exactly take pictures while we were in there. I was more interested in the tour itself, and dipping my hand in the water then wiping it off on my sister’s arm.

The third day was my favorite day. It was, hands down, the most interesting day I had this summer. That morning, we woke up bright and early, and waited for our tour group to pick us up from the Ranch (where we were staying). I didn’t actually expect being with a group of complete strangers. After all, for the rest of our vacation, it was just us traveling as a group.

But there we were, on our way to our Honda Bay island hopping, in a bus with people I did not know at all. Little did I know, I would actually enjoy the company of these people.

We rode a small boat that would fit the twelve of us to our first stop, the Pambato Coral Reef. To my surprise (once again) there was no island or ground we would be setting foot on. Just a floating… thing. That could apparently hold only 50 people.

And boy, was it crowded.

Once I got in the water, I realized that there were way too many people swimming. On top of that, many of those people didn’t know how to swim and had to hold on to this salbabida (life buoy) that was being pulled by their guide. My fingers weren’t even enough to count the number of people I bumped into. I couldn’t even enjoy it.

Next stop was Starfish Island, where I had the guts to dive in the water on my own. Only, my little brother, who wasn’t wearing a (or an annoying) life vest either, was tagging along and I didn’t want to go so far from the shore.

Starfish Island was wayyyy better than the Pambato Coral Reef, in terms of the crowd. I managed to get incredibly tanned there, but that wasn’t really much of a problem. The problem was the fact that there were barely any starfish. Eh. No matter, our guide cooked us a really delicious lunch which included grilled tuna (my new favorite dish), sinigang and much more.

Anyway. Our last stop was Pandan Island. I decided to opt-out on the swimming and dry off there. This is where I got to “bond” with my tour group. My tour group is composed of the five of us in my family, a married couple from Cebu who were celebrating their first anniversary, another married couple from Cebu and three interns from WHO.

We exchanged a lot of stories, places to stay, places to go and shared complaints on the organization/safety when it comes to tourism here in the Philippines. One of the interns, Anne I think, was from Germany and has never in her life seen anything like halo-halo. Amusingly, she cannot comprehend how we just put practically anything in it with crushed ice and condensed milk. I got a kick out of teasing her about it when I got myself a cup.

We were there until around 4 PM until we were told we had to leave. Pandan was the best island/stopover that we went to. It was very relaxing and the sand was so soft, if I had a concussion or if I went entirely insane, I’d think it was a huge bed of softness and dive into it.


Here’s the most interesting bit of the trip. Once we were five minutes away from the island on our boat, something in our boat broke down and we were stuck in the middle of the water. We could still see the island but some of us, including me, decided to put a little fun into our little predicament. We shared theories on how this would end up. My brother made a bet with one of the interns on how many other boats would pass us.

One of the boats that did had a passenger filming us.

“Oh, hey,” I said. “We’ll be in the headlines tomorrow!”

They laughed and one of them said, “That doesn’t sound like that’s a good thing.”

“Yeah. ‘This is the last footage of a group that had been stranded in the middle of the sea.'”

We got it fixed for a bit but then the boat stalled again. We ended up having to attach our boat to another boat and be pulled by them until whatever wasn’t working was fixed. By the end of the boat ride, some of us exchanged emails to keep in touch. All in all, it was a great day. I saw and experienced great things, and met great people. In fact, our tour guide told my dad that we were the best tour group she had ever handled. There were no awkward silences and not at all any problems between people.

I’m glad to have wrapped up my trip in that way because when I came back home to Manila, I felt so renewedand a million times happier than I felt before I left.


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