Saturday, September 29, 2012

Looking Forward to the new Puerto Princesa Int'l Airport

I can't wait for the major improvement of the existing Puerto Princesa airport!

As of late last year, P-Noy (Philippine President Benigno Aquino III) has already approved the Php 4.5 billion project. Construction will start late this year (Source).

The current international airport in Puerto Princesa is looking forward to its make-over!

By 2015, here are some of the new facilities to look forward to in the new international airport (Source):
  1. Passenger terminal building
  2. Control tower
  3. Administration & operation building
  4. Cargo terminal building
  5. Rescue & fire fighting building 
  6. Connecting taxiways
  7. Upgrade of the existing 2.6 km runway and its strip
  8. Provision of new navigational and traffic control equipment.

Here's what the current airport looks like as of August 2012:

The entrance leading to the departure area.

It's so crowded inside.

The beauty on the outside.

I hope the new international airport doesn't disappoint!



Thursday, September 27, 2012

Riding the Fastest Zipline in the Philippines

The fastest zipline in the Philippines is in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
It lets riders go up to16 meters per second for a total of 22 seconds.

Imagine the rush as you’re zipped through the air at sixteen meters per second. Pure adrenaline for 22 seconds! It’s longer than you can scream!

That’s ziplining at Ugong Rock Adventures—the fastest zipline in the Philippines.

We requested for the van to bring us here after the Underground River tour.
Ugong Rock Adventures is in Bgy. Tagabinet.

After a brief orientation from the staff of Ugong Rock, we were advised to put on our heavy-duty gloves and helmet. Funny how we tried to match the helmets with our outfits.

But before we reached the jump-off point for the zipline, we had to climb up the cave to get there. It's a 40-minute adventure. Get ready to sweat!

Before entering the cave, our guide led us in a short prayer.
Unusual and kinda scary.
This welcomed us after a few steps in the cave. Awesome!

Hear the sound of the rocks!
That's why the rocks here are called Ugong!


"Humility Rock"
Careful! It's quite sharp!

We then entered this cave.

Getting ready to climb!
(Photo from Ada de Pedro)

Climbing the steep rocks with the help of heavy-duty ropes. Not too hard.
Best to wear sandals to avoid slipping.

Step by step!

Careful! Some of the rocks are really sharp. My back got scratched.

Exhausted! Group pic before doing any more climbing.

The rewarding view from the top!

All sweaty from climbing.
There's alcohol and a first-aid kit ready in case you need it.

Those who opt not to zipline going down can always go back down through the cave again. But I'd recommend going down the zipline for experience! Face your fears!

All strapped and ready to zipline! I was really nervous!

1:08!!!
The "oh-em-gee" moment of our trip.

My happy-nervous look!
I regret not buying the official photo souvenir.

Tour Costs
Ziplining and caving at Ugong Rock Adventures costs Php 450 per person. Gloves and helmets are inclusive already. For those who opt not to go ziplining, the cost is Php 250. 

This wasn't part of our tour package with the hotel.

To view our itinerary, click here!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Duchess Pension Inn | Puerto Princesa, Palawan

My friends and I probably got one of the best packages for accommodations and tours for our trip to Puerto Princesa.

Consider staying at Duchess Pension Inn.

For three nights with two rooms good for seven people, the total cost was Php 35,000 or Php 5,000 per person! (As of August 2012)

It also covered:
  • Breakfast for 3 mornings
  • Airport transfers / tour transpo
  • Underground River w/ buffet lunch 
  • Honda Bay w/ lunch
  • Firefly Watching w/ dinner

It's a 10-minutes ride to get to / from the airport
(Image from Google Maps)

Here are the rooms we stayed in, which was part of the package:

Double bed with a bunk bed.
(Sorry, photo taken when we were about to check-out.)

Double Bed
(On the last night, we transferred to this smaller room because some friends had to go back to Manila already)

For those who are particular about the bathroom...
 
I was by myself on the first night so I checked-in at the single room in Duchess. This is the cheapest room ever! Not bad at all! This was outside our group package, though.

The single room had a fan. Bathroom was communal.
Cost: Php 250 a night

Communal bathroom at the end of the hallway

Here's a look at the rest of Duchess Pension Inn:

Reception

Welcome gifts for everyone who checks in!
I super love the rain stick!

Common area for breakfast

The cork board has a lot of useful information such as the city map and flight / van schedules

Backyard and other rooms
 
Hallway of the single rooms
 
Pros:
  • Excellent location
  • Offers great packages for accommodations with tours
  • Has WiFi
  • Accredited by Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT)

Cons:
  • WiFi has cost (Php 50 for entire duration)
  • Sometimes, there were cockroaches in the room! 
  • Usage of cable TV has cost (Php 100)
  • Breakfast wasn't the best
 
While there are quite a lot of breakfast choices, this is generally what it looks like.

Fortunately, there are a lot of tricycles outside the hotel.
It's also a 7-minute walk to Rizal Avenue.

Duchess Pension Inn 
107 E Valencia St., Puerto Princesa City
Palawan 5300, Philippines

Mobile: 0917-5530605 (Tricia) – SMS only!
Phone: (048) 433-2873
E-mail: info@duchesspensionpalawan.com


Check out our itinerary here!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Touring the Honda Bay | Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Some of the sights during the Honda Bay Tour

Touring the islands in Honda Bay is a must when in Puerto Princesa City. 

In the half-day tour, travelers get to experience swimming with colorful fish, lounging around a white sandy beach, and doing the catwalk on a narrow sandbar. Each stopover has its own unique charm.

The Honda Bay tour takes more than half a day, which starts early in the morning and ends with firefly-watching at night. Travelers may opt to move the firefly tour to a different date if they're tired after all the swimming.

Islands in Honda Bay
Unfortunately, travelers won’t be able to visit all of them in a day.
(Image from travel.webshots.com)

Here are the three islands we toured:

1. Cowrie Island (20 minutes from the Honda Bay port)
It’s a small and peaceful island where the water around is fairly shallow. This lets you see the colorful fish instantly. Just watch out for the huge sea urchins and the sudden drop in the ocean floor.

Visitors can opt to have lunch there, though beware of flies. 





2. Pambato Reef (20 mins away from Cowrie Island)
Look down while snorkeling in the protected area and you’ll see lots of colorful fish. Unfortunately, the corals are mostly dead. According to our guide, it takes a decade to produce an inch of corals!





3. Lu-li Islet (5 mins away from Pambato Reef)
Do the catwalk along the narrow sand bar, get up close to the mangroves, or take a leap out into the ocean from the diving board. It’s a relaxing and fun way to end the day tour. Watch out for jellyfish!

Lu-li is short for "lulubog-lilitaw"—which is what actually happens depending on the time of day.







How to get there:
From Rizal Ave., it’s a 2-hour drive to get to the Honda Bay Wharf. A service van and tour guide is part of the tour package.

Honda Bay Wharf
This is where the tour guide takes care of securing permits, etc. 

There's a rest stop on the way there. Travelers can rent snorkeling gear (Php 150), underwater camera cases (Php 200), and aqua shoes (Php 150). Bread for feeding the fish (or the travelers) is Php 15 a bag.  


Take note that the snorkeling gear is cheaper by Php 50 at the wharf itself. Since these weren’t on display, I'm just not sure how great these are.

After a few minutes of waiting at the wharf, we boarded the bangka to start the tour!

Cost:
Fortunately, the hotel gave us a great deal for accommodations and tours. For our group of seven, the total cost was Php 35,000 or Php 5,000 per person. It included:
  • 2 rooms for 7 people for 3 nights
  • Breakfast for 3 mornings
  • Airport transfers and tour transpo
  • Underground River tour w/ lunch
  • Honda Bay tour w/ lunch
  • Firefly Watching tour w/ dinner

Happiness!

To view our itinerary, click here!