After a couple days spent in BGC catching up with family and getting over our jet lag, we were off to start our journey to the island province of Palawan. When we flew into Manila earlier in the week, it was in the middle of the night and there was nothing but darkness out of our windows. For this trip we had an early morning flight and our eyes were glued to the window the entire time. The endless blue seas highlighted the thousands of islands that make up the archipelago of the Philippines - it was simply a sight to see. The short one hour flight was certainly not enough time for us to take in the beauty that 30,000 feet above the ground could provide.
We arrived to the City of Puerto Princesa or “The City of the Living God”. This was our first experience without the guidance of my parents, and without the comfort of the city life we got accustomed to in BGC. We touched down and immediately noticed the removal of the high rises, the bustling businesses and most importantly, the excruciating traffic of Manila. Just like that, everything was different - it felt like we were across the world in a completely new land. It was slow, the air was fresh and it felt like we traveled back in time. There were roads that weren’t paved, undeveloped areas, old buildings and lush greenery. We grabbed the first tricycle we saw (which is the best mode of transportation, by the way, and so much fun) and we took a short ride to our hotel, the Blue Lagoon, which was located right on the main street of Rizal Avenue. We settled in and immediately got right to exploring the city.
Rizal Avenue runs right through the city, it was about a 3 mile stretch from end to end. The day was absolutely beautiful and the sun was beating down. We walked the streets, observing all of the different businesses, local restaurants and people. We came across a few blocks of different markets and vendors. You could buy a fake Supreme shirt, freshly caught fish and freshly baked pandesal all at the same time. There was anything you could possibly need (and want!). We wandered over to the west end and found the City Baywalk Park. It was a beautiful landmark that housed a sense of eeriness. We couldn’t quite tell if the park was abandoned or just not open yet. Nonetheless, we had the entire park to ourselves to take in the views that overlooked the mouth of the Sulu Sea. There was nothing but silence, a light breeze and stunning views. What a blessing it was to be there, we were able to sit in peace and take in everything.
We walked back down Rizal Avenue and visited the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, where to our surprise there was a mass being conducted. We visited Plaza Cuartel, which was a Japanese controlled military fort during WWII. In 1944, American POW’s were tortured and eventually killed by their capturers, later becoming known as the Palawan Massacre. The Plaza looked like an ordinary park, but with its dark and devastating history, it was hard not to feel the overwhelming somberness.
We finally arrived back to our hotel for a quick nap and a refresh.
We only had one night to enjoy Puerto Princesa, for we had an early morning trek to El Nido the next morning. After doing some TripAdvisor research, we found our must go to’s for the evening. Our first stop was for coffee at Eightynine Cafe. What an awesome find. I think we missed it the first time we walked by. It was a small, modern cafe that could’ve been found in any big city, but instead was nestled in the small town of Puerto Princesa. I had to get the instagram worthy Rain Cloud Coffee. They bundled a cotton candy “cloud” above a hot cup of coffee where the steam from the coffee made it “rain” into the mug. It was awesome! We ventured a couple streets down to Haim Chicken for dinner. This was a large outdoor restaurant full of local art, with smoke from the kitchen grills flooding the air. We ordered Fresh Lumpia and the best Lumpia Veggie Shanghai I’ve ever had. We followed that up with the famous Haim Spicy Chicken Leg and Pancit Bihon. Absolutely delicious. It was the perfect way to end our short time spent in such a great little city. Day one down of our island hopping adventure, and we couldn’t wait to see what was in store for us ahead.
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