Thursday, October 16, 2014

Manila to Puerto Princesa, Philippines

After a day in Manila it was time to get out.

In the morning I had breakfast at the hotel and then went over to the nearby mall to go sandal shopping. I found myself a nice pair of Havaianas, which have subsequently turned out to be too big, and headed back to the hotel. I caught a taxi to the domestic terminal of the airport, which cost the appropriate 300 pesos or so, unlike my ride upon arrival. On the way to the airport the cab overheated, and we had to spend some quality time at a gas station refilling our water and cooling it down, but I had left with lots of time to spare, so it wasn't a problem.

At the airport I checked in and then had lots of time to wait. Which was nice because I was able to get help sorting out my phone from this terribly helpful woman. She was awesome and didn't want any money for her assistance. Fortunately, I was able to buy a Globe card from her.

The flight was supposed to be 90 minutes, but was only an hour. So I was pretty early for being picked up by Ad, the Dutch owner of the B&B where I was staying. After a short wait he arrived and took me to The Green House, the B&B owned by himself and his wife Susan, a Philippino woman, in Puerto Princesa.

After settling in for a bit I asked Ad what I should do that afternoon in Puerto. I was planning to do the underground river tour the next day, but I needed something that afternoon. He looked surprised by the question, and suggested that I could go to the mall. That didn't sound like a great idea, so I asked if there was a harbor or something that I could take a walk around. He thought about it a bit and suggested I try the Baywalk. (It was called something else. But Baywalk seems to be what comes up on other sites.)

I caught a tricycle over there and checked it out. It was about a 600m stretch of seawall. It's kind of a weird place, with Christmas decorations still up (up already). And the boardwalk was covered with kids riding rented bikes up and down. I guess if you can't afford a bike for your kid, you come here for the afternoon and rent them one to ride around. It was pretty cute, with lots of kids cycling their brothers and sisters around in tricycles. It's a small place though, and after about 20 minutes I'd had enough. Apparently the place comes to life at night, but that was still a few hours away.

I needed to get something to eat, so I looked up a place on TripAdvisor and decided to walk for it. Always an interesting decision mid-afternoon in the a hot country. They do have the coolest Walk / Don't Walk signs though. I'd like to see someone actually walk like this. And they speed up before they change, but to capture that I'd be taking my life in my hands as I crossed the street.

But I set out and an hour or so later I made it to La Terrasse, where they were supposed to have amazing chili prawns. Unfortunately, when I arrived they told me that that was the one dish they were out of. Of course. I had the sizzling squid, which was rubbery and not so nice.

After dinner I asked where a good place to get a beer was. The waiter suggested the Tiki Bar, about a kilometer away. I trekked over there, only to discover that it was the kind of place that wouldn't get going until late that evening. Instead I walked back to a place that Ad had recommended called Kinabuch Bar and Grill, where I settled in, watched some boxing and basketball, both of which the Philippinos are crazy about, and drank a couple of San Miguel's. San Mig's is the primary local beer, both the Pale Pilsner and Light version, and it's really good. Particularly when it's ice cold.

After dinner I caught a tricycle home. The driver couldn't find my place, even after I gave him the card. Apparently it's not a well known B&B, and it wouldn't show up on Google Maps. Now I know why Ad picks people up from the airport.

A good day in the Philippines. Tomorrow I was going to do the underground river tour.

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