January 20, 2014

Coron, Palawan: My First Island Experience

Touchdown, CoronFor the record, i'm not supposed to be here. Last February 2013, My high school friend, Kyla, had to transfer her friend's name's ticket to me because she couldn't go. I'm glad she did.

We haven't booked any tour in advance because we dared ourselves to do a DIY itinerary. When we got to the airport, we weren't expecting to ride this:

A propeller! 
Kyla was frantic about it because she was used to riding jets. Since this was my first time, I didn't expect much. We left Manila at 9:40AM and arrived in Busuanga at 10:40AM. It was interesting to see how they carried our bags from the plane. This airport had no conveyor belts so once they drop your bags on the long table, grab then go.

My first travel adventure with high school buddy, Kyla!
Busuanga Airport
It took us another hour to get to the town proper. We were so hungry by the time we arrived in our hotel, so we headed off to the nearest local restaurant.

Islands View Inn. Not as spectacular as Sunz En but the place is neat, big, and close to the market
Our beds! The whole room was spacious enough that we have an extra bed outside.

I wanted to bring this adorable keychain home!
I had huge buttered lobsters for only 200 pesos at Cornelio's Food Haus
The wait was longer than the feast. We wolfed our food in just 10 minutes. Since we didn't have an itinerary yet, we hired a taxicle driver to give us a little town tour. He asked us if we wanted to climb the 700 steps to the touristy Mt. Tapyas, or travel for 20 minutes to this secret Beach called Cabo. We just wanted to chill so we chose the latter. (I kind of regret for not choosing Mt. Tapyas. The giant cross that stood on top was blown away by Typhoon Haiyan last October.) 

View from the taxicle.

The driver pouring his 50-peso gasoline in the tank.
The beaten track
Kyla with our driver in his cool taxicle. :)
He was right. It was a secluded beach. Not the white sand type you would expect, but we had the beach to ourselves! (Kind of) And we only had to pay 20 pesos for the entrance! Just when we thought we were alone, we saw some couples (Caucasian), lying naked on the sand. They even said hi to us and invited us over. We declined politely then headed off to the other side of the shore. 

That's me savoring my vacation.
We stayed for another 2 hours lying in the sand, listening to some tunes, and dozed off. Then we finally went back to the trike. Along the way, we saw small huts and people shredding fruits. Our driver told us that these fruits are called Kasoy. I asked if this was how they produce their famous 'Pili nut' and he said 'yes'. (The seed is separated from the fruit. They cook the seeds to produce Pili Nuts and eat the fruit as is.) I kept on asking him questions like the taste or texture so he stopped the trike, talked to a local, and got us this handful of Kasoy. For free!

See the grey thing on top of the fruit? That's the seed. Sorry for the blurred shot, we were passing rough roads
Without washing or slicing it, I still ate the fruit. The taste and texture surprised me because it was a little rough and sticky plus the juice squirted once I bit it. Honestly, I was expecting something as simple as apples. In short, I had a messy ride til our next stop. :p

The Maquinit Hot Springs
The driver took us to the famous Maquinit Hot Springs. I'm thinking if they got the name Maquinit from 'Mainit' which means 'Hot' in Filipino. My friend and I dropped our things and enjoyed the fresh warm spring. I had a mishap while locking the door in the rest room. I couldn't close the rusty lock so when I forced myself, the lock sliced off half of my index finger's skin. Good thing their admin assisted us. After applying meds, the driver brought us back to our hotel.

It was almost night time so we freshened up and prepared for dinner. We walked around and saw this local cafeteria called 'Centro Coron' with lots of tourists and locals in it. The price was okay, plus we're up for good seafood so we decided to stay here.

I tried their specialty: the Sultana De Coron
This dish had buttery, salty, sweet, and savory all over the place. I enjoyed it along with my plain rice and a cold bottle of Sprite. Not bad for P270. Try this when you go here. :)

To cap the night, we began searching for a local bar but only found one decent, hidden, but popular pub. The Helldivers Bar

The man who owns this is an expat turned local and opened this bar beside the divemasters area.
Plus you get refillable popcorn!
Kyla and I had 2 rounds of Jack, played Foosball, and chatted with the local bartenders. We were the only Filipinos in the bar surrounded by Caucasians. As soon as we finished our drink, we left the place and got ourselves a massage. 

Overall, we had a great day. I'm glad I came here first before Puerto Princesa or Boracay. I loved Coron's friendly locals and it's laid-back island vibe. I can't wait to show you more of the islands on my next post. Thanks Kai for inviting me to this trip!! :)