Sunday, August 04, 2013

Sunday, August 04, 2013
Start of my adventure in Palawan.

My treehouse being built.

Some travelers I meet along the way asks me every now and then about places in my own home  and the sad thing is, I don’t really know much, haven’t been around the country that much, at least for the past 15 or so years.  Why don’t I explore my own place some friends would always say, after all I’ve been to so many places already.  And I would also say that it’s a special place that deserves to be a final destination.  Well, after all it’s what I’ll consider as “home”.  So I guess this is the right time.  Continuing from my previous story, I packed my suitcase and whatever I could bring home, bought a ticket and flew to home.

On board the plane, the domestic not the international one, I started to fret and apprehensions mounted – what’s waiting for me in Palawan?  What would I be doing there?   How about my expenses?  How’s the culture now?  Where would I hang out in case I get saturated and bored?  I don’t know, it kind of giving me a lot of thinking while looking out on the plane’s window. 

My new treehouse.
I took the Cebu Pacific flight and touched down at the small airport of the city.  I wonder why they call it an international airport, it’s so small that if you don’t have a luggage to check in, it’s going to take a minute or two from the time you descend down the stairs of the plane to the terminal exit.  It was raining, oh well, just a little drizzle, and I was impressed with the service of the airline when they start handing over umbrellas to passengers from the plane’s exit door down to the entrance of the terminal.  I forgot that I actually have a checked-in baggage with me, so I waited from the small conveyor and since it’s a small airport, it didn’t took that long, probably 10 minutes before my luggage came rolling on the equally small moving conveyor.

Although the weather is a little gray, it was really warm, or maybe because I haven’t had that much sleep for the past 24 hours from my international to the domestic flight. 

I intend to give a lot of tips on this blog so to start with a nice airport transport tip, don’t expect to find yellow taxi cabs (or whatever color you have in your own place), upon exiting the small (and efficient) terminal building, you won’t find any.  Most people (tourists in particular) have their hotels arranged their airport pick-ups.  But for most travelers on a budget (like me), there are those tricycles waiting beyond the exit.  If you don’t have time or just lazy to take a bit of a walk, then take those tricycles right at the exit, costs 150 pesos per tricycle, not per person.  But for most of us, a 2-minute walk to the main road will save some bucks.  Just take the path to your right until you reach the main highway and walk couple of meters more where you’ll find several people waiting for their ride.  Flag down, wave your hand to a running tricycle, these beasts are motorcycles with a passenger carriage attached to it, much like the notorious tuktuks of Bangkok.  It can accommodate comfortably 2 people inside its attached cab but a maximum of 5 can fit in if you don’t mind bending your head a little or squeezed your thighs.

Tricycle driver.

The most that the drivers of these tricycle would ask from you to take you to the downtown is 80 pesos for the whole tricycles especially if you’re alone or just a couple.

Inside the tricycle on my way to our place, I started to survey the streets and everything along the way.  I can’t remember well but I think this place used to be a little quieter than now.  I was here a decade and a half ago.  There are a lot of vehicles on the road especially the noisy tricycles (I’m in at one right now) and a lot of those locally manufactured multicabs, a smaller version of the colourful  jeepneys in Manila.

Few days after arrival, I found myself renovating the small old house my father built for me before he passed away.   It’s a bit sentimental but hey, I want to consider this place a home I wish it would be.

Visit to The Crocodile Farm.
Big one at Crocodile Farm.

Smaller crocs.
On my third day, I went to the Crocodile Farm – a favorite attraction of the city.  You can reach this attraction by either joining a tour called “City Tour” offered by your hotel or any tour operators in town, the airconditioned van group tour costs 600 pesos per person and it includes some highlights of the city of Puerto Princesa.  My bubbly nephew is one of the tour van driver, hook up with me and I could hook you up with him for a good price.  But since I’m a local and - ehermm – a traveler, I took it the hard (not so actually) way, hailing a multicab along the highway.  You could also find these multicabs along Rizal Avenue at the downtown near Jollibee with the sign “Irawan”.  Just tell the driver that you’re going to Crocodile Farm, fare is only 10 pesos, unless of course you’re a big group, hiring a tricycle or renting a van would be cost-effective.

Crocodile farm, just as the name suggests, is a sanctuary for those reptiles, they breed crocodiles in here.  Do you know that some restaurants are offering it cooked as a delicacy? – eouw! 

Laughing croc?
Entrance fee is 40 pesos, students get a discount.  They have introduction session prior to the tour for a couple of minutes and then you’re on your own.  There’s a huge open hall where small crocodiles are in breed captivity in small to medium sizes.  Bigger ones are down the swampy area, there’s a bridge for visitors to watch those crocs below.  There’s a really huge one down there named … hmmm.. I forgot the name actually.

Eagle at the Crocodile Farm
Aside from crocodiles, they keep some endangered animal species scattered in huge cages around the forest wildlife park like talking maynahs, eagles, bearcats, a lonely snake, and others.  There are also a lot of trees and different kind flora, some of them have labels – scientific names – some are rare species.  You just have to follow the clearly marked paths.

The highlight for me – aside from the crocs of course – are the lovely talking Hill Mynahs of Palawan.  Scientific name:  Gracula religiosa palawanensis, also called the Philippine Talking Mynah or simply Palawan Mynah.

They’re lovely black birds with yellow beaks that mimic human speech.  They’re amazing creatures, almost unbelievably smart birds that talks like- you know - humans?  When I first saw them in a big cage sitting on a tree and I started hearing whistles blowing particularly the “you’re sexy” whistles and several “wows” I thought they’re coming from people around, took me a minute or two before I’d figured out it’s actually coming from those black birds.  I was so amused, never really seen birds talking, except from some parrots I saw at a pet store few months back that meows and whistles.  Well, its cage is beside several kittens.
Talking Mynahs of Palawan

OK, going back to those talking mynahs of Palawan, throw them some words, and if you’re lucky, they’d shout the same words back at you.  Although, they already have sets of memorized words like “panget” (Filipino word for ugly).  That made me wonder, why do some (or maybe most) Filipinos always let others learn the basic Filipino language starting with the word “ugly”, and then some really ugly words?  Why?  I’ve heard lots of arabs utter those tagalog curses like .. you know what I mean… then there’s the words “kuripot” (tightfisted), “gago” (stupid?), etc.  Anyways, I’ll save that topic for another post.

After exploring the crocodile farm, getting out of the area is easy,  there are multicabs running along the highway in front of the gate for 10 pesos back to the downtown, or take the parked tricycles there if it’s not closing time already  when most of them are gone.

Next destination will be…hmmm, let’s see the next write up.


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