A Frog Walks Into a Bar,… Trippin’ in Puerto Princesa
As we take our table in the bar, one of the girls noticed a tree frog on the table in front of us and they notified the waitress and her response was “we see them all the time” and then she walked away. Is this “off the beaten path” enough for you.
A frog walks into a bar… do they prefer beer or hard alcohol? Where do they keep their money? Are they good tippers?
The Tiki Restobar is an open air restaurant and bar and it was one of only two bars still open after midnight and this happened to be the nearest one. We notice how great the cover band was, here and at the hotel bar, and order drinks and continued joking about making it back to the hotel wondering if we’ll get kidnapped or will we be the next featured story on Locked-Up Abroad.
In fact, during this picture, Charmaine jokingly stated I hope this isn’t our last photo any one see’s of us as we head out to the bar.
In my travels, it’s a normal occurrence to quickly befriend fellow travels and this trip was no exception. People of the same mind-set, open-minded and have the love for adventure, are who I often meet along the way. I met Charmaine and Christine (names have been changed to protect the innocent, I said for the innocent) on my stay in Puerto Princesa and became fast friends.
I felt safe walking around the city, even at night. I wasn’t used to all the different spices and flavors prepared for the dinners and I had to walk to the pharmacy at midnight to calm my stomach. There were barely any people out and about and only the rare vehicle on the street. I never felt in danger, except for my stomach. And I think the city also rolls up the sidewalks around 10 pm. All the businesses close and the street is only lit by the sporadic street lights.
Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines is the 2nd largest city in the country, geographically, but the least densely populated city in the country with just over 220,000 people. The island of Palawan is known as the last frontier as it’s the least developed of all the larger islands in the archipelago and Puerto Princesa is in the middle of the island and the hub of all activities in the area as well as the regional capital. The city is refreshingly clean with very little liter on the side of the streets and the alleys don’t smell of urine. Unexpected, since 3rd world cities tend to be dirty. The city was originally named after Princess Asuncion daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and was renamed after her untimely death to Puerto de la Princesa and then shortened to Puerto Princesa as it’s known today.
One of the maim attractions in the area is Honda Bay which is 30 minutes from Puerto Princesa and is one of the top destinations in the country with dozens of tropical islands and home to exclusive resorts, pricy resorts. It’s almost redundant to say it’s one of the top destinations for swimming, snorkeling and diving as you can use this description for just about any part of the Philippines. During my visit here, I did notice the deterioration of the coral reefs. The tourist aren’t properly advised on how to swim in the reefs. Just a touch from a person can mean the death of the coral and unfortunately I saw much of the coral dead or dying because of this.
I hope they improve on the conservation of the reef to insure it matches the beauty of the islands above the water. Picturesque islands with sand bars that seem to run forever. I walked away from the multiple tour groups and quickly found myself alone and with no one in sight walking on a sand bar that seemed like I could walk all the way to Manila.
The main attraction in the area is the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River approximately 3 hours from the city. The river cave is carved out of a limestone mountain more than 15 miles long and a portion of the Cabayugan River. Until the 2007 discovery of an underground river in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, this was the longest subterranean river in the world. The river can be reached by a long van ride and then a short boat ride from the town of Sabang to the national park. From there, it’s a short hike through the rain forest to the entrance of the cave.
On the hike to the mouth of the river a 3 to 4 foot monitor lizard walked in our path but didn’t seem to mind we were there. He just walked on the trail and then disappeared into the rain forest. But that wasn’t the most memorable part of the trek. Walking back from the river, I stop to eat a protein bar and after I take my first bite I notice a group of monkeys, long-tailed macaque, surround me. Out of nowhere, the alpha male runs towards me and knocks out half of my protein bar out of my hand and the rest of the group is howling at me expecting me to give them more. I put the rest of the protein bar back in my back pack and they quickly went away to the safety of the jungle,… my safety?
The water around the mouth of the river was indescribably beautiful with clear turquoise water. You’re required to wear a hard hat before boarding the small boat. I guessed the hat was in case of falling rocks but I think it was more for deflecting bat droppings as the inner portion of the cave was covered with bats. The occasional bat would do a fly by but they weren’t a bother. That honor went to the gigantic mosquitoes the size of dragon flies. So big, they could have picked the hard hat right of my head. Surprisingly no one really had any complaints of multiple mosquito bites. I came out untouched. They were to slow because of their size.
If you’re thinking this is too tough and too much work, my mom and aunt were with me every step of the way. Well, they weren’t out with us at night but you know what I mean, get off your ass and experience the magnificence called the world.
It’s worth the effort to be in such a geologically and environmentally beautiful place and I’m glad to have visited the subterranean river and the rest of Puerto Princesa.