Puerto Princesa Diaries ep.03: Island hopping fun

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By Regina May Cajucom

Serendipity Couch

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


AS PER the itinerary sent to us months ahead by the very efficient and highly commendable E-Philippines Adventure Travel and Destinations scheduled the Underground River Tour for our second day in paradise.

After a restful sleep following our long travel from the mountains of Baguio, to the metropolis on our way to NAIA, to the fabulous island city of Puerto Princesa, we were ready for the next adventure. Early in the morning I got several text messages from Cherry (my good guess is that she is the head of the agency-counterpart of E-Phil) telling us that the Coast Guard cancelled all Underground River tours for that day because of rough seas. Oh no! We looked out the window of our cottage and saw that it was indeed cloudy and windy outside. We did not panic though, we simply enjoyed a laid-back breakfast and morning photo session (never-ending sessions I should say) as we waited for Ate Marie, our bubbly tour guide. There were fleeting moments of worry (What if weather still awful tomorrow? What if the Underground River tour gets cancelled again tomorrow? What if we miss this chance to see it, considering we have an early morning flight the day after tomorrow?), but not too much - E-Phil Travel and its Palawan counterpart Islands of Fun had so far shown their reliability and efficiency so we did not let our morning be ruined by negative thoughts: we're in paradise after all, with family and fab friends. What could go wrong?

A little past 9:00 o'clock that morning, Ate Marie arrived and we headed to Honda Bay, which was supposed to be scheduled for the next day but they had to re-schedule because of the Coast Guard's cancellation of Underground River tours that day. Observing the many tourist vans parked at the port going to Honda Bay, I realized how Puerto Princesa really takes the tourism industry very seriously, with concerted effort among its police, agents, guides and merchants.
Before high noon, we disembarked at Cowrie Island, the most visited among the Honda Bay Islands. Ok, I wasn't listening very well to Ate Marie's backgrounder on Honda Bay while on our way to the port. I think I dozed off; since we were anticipating a long day doing some serious island hopping, a few stolen shut-eye in between destinations wouldn't hurt. We had a sumptuous lunch especially prepared by Ate Marie likewise, and we were thinking, these tour guides are really awesome. They know what they're doing and they're really good at making travelers feel good about the place, the food, the whole package.

Next island on the agenda was Luli Island, where we had the chance to snorkel and play with different species of fish. Ok, I'm not a swimmer, and there I realized how difficult it is to "swim" under water with strong current. Not only did I suddenly have the admiration for efficient people in the travel industry, I also realized how tough it must be for rescuers and marine soldiers (?) during search, rescue and retrieval operations underwater.

Island hopping at Honda Bay is so much fun. We are all from the city, and we were then all in awe of the majestic islands, beaches and vast ocean views. Travelling is not only fun though, it opens a lot of "windows of opportunities": to meet new people, to make new friends, to expand your horizons, to broaden your understanding of the world, to gain a deeper appreciation for even the simplest things.

(serendipity.couch@gmail.com/ www.serendipitycouch.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 06, 2014.

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