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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Philippines: Day 26 - Sunset in Sabang

We had booked a transfer with the Lexxus Shuttle Service the day before and - for an extra fee - got the option to have a transfer from our hotel in Puerto Princesa, the Acacia Tree Garden. We left at 8 a.m. after breakfast and then were brought to the bus terminal, from where it took about two hours to get to Sabang. While the van was bit cramped, it was okay and taking a van is - for me - the most recommended option, when you travel between cities in Palawan. The shuttle service also offers tourist-friendly transfers from Puerto Princesa to El Nido and even between El Nido, Port Baton and Sabang. 

Sabang is really small, and we were left out at the heart of the village, nearby the beach and the main parking lot at the beach. The primary attraction in Sabang is the Underground River, a World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. You can go to the ticket office at the parking lot for tickets and information and then take a boat from Sabang to the entrance of the Underground River or even walk the "Jungle Trail" or the "Monkey Trail" to it. 


Many tourists come just for a day trip from Puerto Princesa, which you can easily book at most hotels in Puerto Princesa. But Sabang has more to offer and is a great place to stay at least a night. There´s a beautiful sandy beach, restaurants, a waterfall in walking distance and a Zipline. There's also a Mangrove Boat Tour and more caves to explore. But it is small, so don´t expect an ATM if you plan a visit.


We mainly just came to relax after our busy sightseeing weeks in South Korea and Hong Kong. After all, I've been to Sabang many times before. It was a somewhat spontaneous trip, and we didn't reserve a room in advance. So, we tried our luck at first at the Daluyon Resort. It is rather expensive for our standard, but we thought, we could grant ourselves some luxury towards the end of the tour, and I've never been there, although I have been in Sabang several times already. Unfortunately, it was fully booked. After a quick look at the even more expensive Sheridan, which was also fully booked, but much too expensive anyway, we went to my usual home in Sabang, the Dab Dab Cottages. While they didn't have a free cottage, we at least got a room in their new building.


The Dab Dab Cottages are little cottages in a beautiful garden, just a few steps from the parking lot and on the other side of the central hotel area. They come at a fair price, and I especially like, that each cottage has its space, so that it feels a bit like having a little house inside the jungle. However, you need to know, that there's electricity only in the evening, so don't expect a flatscreen TV or an aircon. The hotel also has its own restaurant, and the ground has a tranquil atmosphere - only disturbed by the roosters in the morning. 


After checking in, we went to a little eatery at the parking lot, where I got lunch, and my friend got some pizza before we went swimming and just relaxed on the beach. 


Later we also walked along the coast, above some cliffs and through the river, to the next beach and adored the sunset. It is a beautiful area, and we changed between swimming, lying around, walking a few steps and eating. Precisely what we had hoped for and what we needed after the exciting but exhausting sightseeing weeks in South Korea and Hong Kong.






Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Philippines: Day 25 - Puerto Princesa, Crocodile Farm and Baker´s Hill

After our simple breakfast at the Acacia Tree Garden in Puerto Princesa, we set off to a little sightseeing with my family. Our destination was the Crocodile Farm. It is a bit outside of the town, but reachable by tricycle. Crocodiles are actually endemic in the Philippines. But the Philippine Crocodile is rarely seen anymore and - unfortunately - close to extinction. In Palawan, there are no wild crocodiles, with just a few exemptions.

We arrived at the Crocodile Farm at a wrong time, as you can only visit it within a guided tour and one had just left, and the next was due no further than an hour later. So we walked a bit around in the village next to the Crocodile Farm, where you can actually eat crocodile meat (of course we didn't!). The rain was coming to the mountains in the distance, while it was still around 35 degrees. So, we eventually had a cold drink, and ice cream in the little cafe, next to the Crocodile Farm and my little niece got a crocodile plush toy from the souvenir shop. 


When the next tour finally started, we bought the tickets and then proceeded to the first building, where the tour begins. Actually, we ran to it, as a cloudburst started too. We were glad, that the first part of the tour was inside, where we started with some information by the guide. Then we came to the building, where they breed crocodiles, and we saw crocodiles in every age and length. Some even cute (if you can say that to a crocodile). They actually have the Philippine Crocodile and Saltwater Crocodiles. At the farm, they are working to conserve them.


Next up was the enclosure for the bigger and older crocodiles, where you actually walk above them. It was really impressive. I find them fascinating, as crocodiles like that lived on earth already 80 million years ago and they were here way before us. There was the last photo opportunity with a crocodile and a snake, then everyone could enter the attached Nature Park on their own. 


The Nature Park is kind of a jungle with some enclosures for animals found in Palawan, like the Palawan Hornbill, the Palawan Bear Cat and the Talking Mynah. While there are - of course - cages for the birds, there was much more room for the animals than in other parks. It was a lot better than the zoo we visited in Legazpi a few years ago. All said, the Crocodile Farm is really a recommendable tour from Puerto Princesa and easily accessible on your own by tricycle (although you have to pay the driver to wait for you). However, there are also guided city tours, that include it. They are available at many hotels in Puerto Princesa or here.


From the Crocodile Farm, it wasn´t that far to Baker's Hill, where we got by tricycle and met more family members. At Baker's Hill, you get the best bread in Palawan and also find a fantastic restaurant, a park with peacocks, a playground for the kids and much more. We had late lunch there and really enjoyed it and took our time.


We had needed more time than expected for everything so far, so, we skipped the plan to also visit the nearby Butterfly Garden. Instead, we drove by tricycle to the bus station, where we bought tickets for the Lexxus Shuttle Service to Sabang for the next day. Then we continued to the big Robinson's Mall, to meet my other niece and nephew, who had just arrived from Balabac. We had dinner at Giligan's and spent some quality time together. After all, I hadn't seen them for two years.