Friday, April 20, 2012

Travel: Day 2 in Coron, Palawan

On our day 2 in Coron, we were picked up by our van service as early as 7am. We're off to go island hopping. Although I've read several reviews about different snorkeling and dive sites in Coron, I was just as giddy and scared about this experience. It's like I know what to expect but still anticipating some elements of surprise... and I was right. 

We had the boat all to ourselves during the island tour. I guess we were the only ones who availed of this package for that day. Before the boat left the pier, we were asked if we brought along snorkeling gear. Since we didn't bring any because we packed light for the trip, we rented gears for P150 each. Not bad right? but if you lose or damage the gear, you'll have to pay P1,000 for each gear.

First stop, Kayangan Lake. This lake is one of those places protected and maintained by the Tagbanuas and an entrance fee is required. Entrance fees and permits are inclusive in the package tour we availed. 
The place is really a beauty to behold. I cannot help but take pictures after pictures to capture the majesty that is Palawan.
entrance to Kayangan lake
 Once you get a go signal to enter the premises, you are required to read the rules and most important of all is the mountaineers rule: 'take nothing but pictures,  leave nothing but footprints, keep nothing but memories, waste nothing but time.' We were also given a small lesson from our guide regarding the lakes in Calamian area and I learned that there are still lakes in the area that are just off limits to people. That's fine by me, I say, if that's the way we can protect our natural habitat.

It takes around 150 steps to reach the lake area for swimming and snorkeling, that's far better than the 7++ steps we took a day before. 
Halfway through the climb, we reached this area that provided a perfect view of the lake and most popular in websites. 

Once you get to the lake, you'll be mesmerized by the clear water and rock formation that seems to open to a whole new water world (anybody feels like a song coming?). I felt both intrigued and scared to know what lies beyond those rocks. 

After Kayangan Lake, our boat headed off to Twin Peaks where we fed eagerly waiting and visitor-friendly fishes. It was such an exhilarating experience!

It was already lunchtime we we left Twin Peaks lagoon so our boatmen brought us to a small beach just beside the Kayangan entrance and served us sumptuous lunch of garlic crabs, grilled fish and pork, ensaladang talong, rice and fruits. Lunch was also part of the tour package. These were one of those moments when you just thank the Lord for a perfect  - secluded white sand beach with just the rolling of the waves as your music, a majestic view of Palawan, meal fit for a king and conversation that you enjoy :)
After lunch, we actually slept for like an hour or so. The waves and the sun were just soothing, they seem to  encourage everyone to relax and not think about anything else that moment.

Around 3pm, we were off to our last stop : Twin Lagoon. Our guide Rudy said this is saving the best for last. And truly, once you experience this place, you don't want to ever leave. The place is called twin lagoon because here meets the cool water from the ocean and the hot water from another source and the result is a warm salt water.
Boats can only go as far as the bridge. The only way to go in the lagoon is to swim. If one wish to take pictures inside the lagoon, it's advisable to bring only a digicam or a waterproof and light camera. Chunky cameras are not advisable unless you have them in a waterproof bag. Our guide said guests who brought DSLRs had difficult time transporting their cameras to the lagoon.

Truly breathtaking, nuff said.

After our swim, we went back to the hotel to freshen up and got ready for dinner in town :)

linking this post to Mommy Moments mommy moments

My first time on Happiness is...

Monday, April 2, 2012

Travel: Day 1 in Coron, Palawan

Part of my birthday wish and promise to self is that I will travel again this year. Travel/Me time for a mom with two kiddos and a full time career is not easy to pull off so I said 'If I'm really serious about this goal might as well start early.'
So as early as October last year, I already booked a flight to a place people all over the world is raving  about and a place that has been on my bucket list for the longest time: Coron, Palawan! 

As soon I booked our Airphil flight (which was a delayed flight by the way but why am I not surprised...) I started doing research on accommodations. Friends are really heaven-sent because one friend suggested to check out Calamian Travel and Tours. I must say, I'm happy with the service - they answer to emails, calls and texts promptly, very professional and very considerate. Here's their site and the package they gave us for our 3D 2N stay:


Coron Town TourDestinations
  • Souvenir shops
  • Coron Baywalk
  • Harbor Center
  • Town Plaza
  • San Agustin Church
  • Mount Tapyas View-deck
  • Cashew Harvest
  • Maquinit Hot Spring

  • hot spring dip
  • souvenir shopping
  • easy trekking
  • photo-shooting
  • sightseeing

Coron Island Tour

  • Kayangan Lake
  • Twin Lagoon
  • Banol/Atuwayan Beach
  • Skeleton Wreck
  • CYC Beach
  • Twin Peaks

  • beach and lake hopping
  • swimming
  • snorkeling*
  • easy-moderate trekking
  • photo-shooting
  • kayaking*
*Kayaks & snorkel gears must be rented

The package we got was for a standard hotel and we were booked at Mt. Tapyas Hotel. It's a little off town proper but an P8.00 - P10.00 tricycab ride can get you to and fro town anytime of the day, just request one from the front desk. The hotel is fairly small but it has a good view of the Coron sign ala Hollywood and the bay. They serve mean camaron rebosado, by the way :) 

Coron's tricycab
Tricycab is what the locals call their tricycle because it can accommodate up to 6 passengers. I had fun riding this tranport. Reminds me of my vacations in Negros when I was a child. 
In our previous travels, Stephen and I usually just go backpacking. No guides, we just went wherever our feet took us so this is actually our first time to go with a tourist guide. One thing about tourist guide especially to places you've never been before is that they share a little more information, local stuff that you wouldn't really get from internets, etc.
Here are photos of our day 1 in Coron:
Our hotel room, small but clean

Did you know that Coron means pot in the local dialect? This  giant pot here is the symbol of  the town.
Our very first stop, souvenir shop, so we already checked the wares for possible pasalubong on day 1 and went actual shopping on our last day. I fell in love with the embellished pouch :)

 Afterwhich, we got a tour of the small town and the bay. Coron is currently planning on setting up their first and probably the highest zipline in the Philippines near the bay area. Sounds exciting, right?

By 5pm, we were off to Mt. Tapyas which we had to climb the 724 steps to get to the cross. It was tiring but so-worth-it hike. The view was magnificent especially at sun set. That was one of those moments when you just marvel at God's creation.

After that exhilarating trek, we were off to Maquinit Hotspring to relax our weary bodies. On the way there, we passed by Coron's Cashew Harvest where I tasted the crunchiest and freshest kasoy ever! I never realized may iba't ibang level pa pala ng lasa ang kasoy and Coron's version tops the list so far. According to locals, Antipolo kasoy are actually imported from Palawan.

Now moving on the Maquinit Hotspring. This bath place boasts of salt water hot spring. Our swim was  totally invigorating, really help relax my sore and city-stressed body. They say that the heat or bukal came from the dormant volcano near Mt. Tapyas. Ideal swim time is at night or before seven in the morning as the water may be too hot for swimming in the late morning especially at noon. When going here, be ready to go home salty or without a shower as the place doesn't have a shower room, just changing areas and sink. I actually ended up washing off the salty water with mineral water.

I can do this all day...
 We stayed in Maquinit for almost an hour so by the time we got back to the hotel it was dinner time. We decided to make most of the lively town and had dinner in a place friends recommended: Seadive Hotel Restaurant. It's a place near the bay and many divers (usually foreigners) dine here. The place is cozy and not too crowded. The locals say it's one of the most expensive so I guess that's one reason tables are always available for guests. I ordered grilled prawns with rice and veggies (P400) while hubby ordered grilled tanigue (P3++). My prawns were a little overcooked and tough but the serving is big and the ambience is just so relaxing so I thought, it's a good enough experience.

One more thing about Coron is that the prices of food is no different from Manila. In fact, the shrimp and other seafood in the wet market is priced even higher than here in the metro. That's one sad truth that the locals cringe at and I hope the LGU can do something about the price ceiling of seafood. Fishing is still the major source of economy of the place anyway, tourism only ranks second.

On my next post, I'll share day2 of our Coron Trip.

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