And a good evening to you from across the globe after another GREAT DAY in the Lion City. Okay, as promised, back to the catch-up from our trip to the Philippines. Tonight we'll focus one one of the more AMAZING places that I'd never heard of until moving to Asia (until landing in the Philippines for that matter!) - Honda Bay.
So the fearsome foursome was up early (5:30 AM) to grab our included brekkie (the Angels went with the "American breakfast" - the Bull went cultural and had the Filippino breakfast - which was hotter than HELL but so guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuud - peppy cheekies). We ate at light speed and caught a 6:45 AM cab to the Domestic terminal (as fate would have it, there are 3 terminals in Manila - 1 international and 2 domestic. Luckily our cabbie knew which one was exclusively for PAL - Philippines Air lines - otherwise we might still be in Manila eating sisig. Come to think of it, how would that be bad...), where we became acquainted with a less than stellar aspect of Filippino flying - THE DEPARTURE TAX.
So here's the deal - it doesn't matter if you're flying to the next county or a thousand miles away - you will owe $$$ EVERY TIME YOU GET ON A PLANE. You have to rock up to the airline counter, get your boarding pass, and then saunter over to just pay pesos out the nose to the super friendly and cheeful attendant. Needless to say I was less than pleased...
All the same, by 9:15 AM, we were on the ground in Palawan, landing in the city of Puerto Princessa. The flight was great, and it was easy to find our hotel shuttle. However, the fact that homeboy was clearly Filippino and had NEON YELLOW HAIR did throw me off a bit. Details...
We hopped into the van, at which point the driver (let's call him...I don't know...NOT SO SLIM SHADY) then proceeds to chat with us.
Not So Slim Shady (NS3): "You guys want to do the underground river or Honda Bay?"
4 Expats who just want a cup of Coffee (US): "Yep, definitely on the agenda."
NS3: "We give better deal than hotel. We save you 200 pesos. But you book with us NOW. Otherwise, no deal."
(Two things run through the Bull's mind. 1. SIX DOLLARS? ALL HE'S OFFERING TO SAVE US IS SIX DOLLARS BETWEEN THE 4 OF US? Riiiiight... 2. Who the hell IS this guy and why isn't he driving us to the hotel?)
US: "We'll think about it." (Translation: "You're scaring us, Hannibal Lecter. Please move on.)
NS3: "Is good deal. You book NOW, yeah?"
US: "Nope. We want to think about it." (Translation: "Maybe I should have bought a gun in Manila.")
NS3: "Okay, I give you 2 minutes to think." (Slams door in our faces)
So the funny thing is that, when we got to the hotel, we were able to book the Underground River but had already missed the boat for Honda Bay. Our boy, however (who WORKS FOR THE HOTEL, FOR THE RECORD), was still around. So I walked up to him and said, "You can get us to the Bay, right?" He jerks up as though he's got DOG HEARING and says, "No talk here - go outside."
So after we "negotiate," I realize that he's stealing a company van and driving us, pocketing the money. But since it's his job on the line and only $6 USD a person for us, we're in! And 25 minutes later, we're at the jetty for Honda Bay.
So here's the deal, an AWESOME catamaran with sun cover and a crew of 2 for the day? $12 A PERSON. You can go to any island, where there's a charge of around $.75 a person to swim, snorkel, or lounge. And as the photos will tell you, it was just AMAZING.
The first island, Pedang, was something out of a movie. The beach was just PRISTINE, the water turquoise, the snorkeling good, and the colors just amazing. I seriously CANNOT say enough good things about this place.
The next spot, Snake Island (because it's so long...that's what she said), wasn't as cool, but it had a great stretch of beach with mangrove forests and amazing views of Palawan. I'm telling you - GO VISIT THIS PLACE NOW. You don't want to wait the 20 years until it's developed.
We then rolled over to Starfish island, where we acted like we were FIVE YEARS OLD again and did TONS of photos with various props. Seriously - our boat crew was HILARIOUS, and they whipped out every single prop in the book to make the Ang mo's look like TOTAL MORONS. For the record, they succeeded and I had a blast. I mean, if nothing else, check out this future Quidditch player in the making! "Weasley is our King! Weasley is our King!"
It was then back to the Microtel, where we had a GREAT room ON THE OCEAN. The tide swing here is MASSIVE, and so in the morning we were right on the water but in the evening about 3/4 of a mile from the sea. It was really crazy (mom and dad -like the Bay of Fundy, only not cripplingly expensive during the "shrimp festival" - sure would like to have another $15 orange juice again though...), and we spent the evening with Strong Horse (6.9% - good call Laurente!) and Pale Pilsen. We caught the shuttle into town, where we spent 2 hours eating everything not bolted to the floor at this place called Kennebush. Seriously - the locals were impressed...and THAT'S HOW WE ROLL.
It was then back to bed, as we had a 9 AM call for brekkie before a 9:30 departure to the Underground River - a finalist for the new 7 natural wonders of the world. THAT, however, will just have to keep.
Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Chat tomorrow!
Sam and Jenny