Palawan: Taking the Long Way Back

Next stop: the island of Palawan, home of the underground river and many cool dive sites... We are having a bit of trouble with the flight situations.. Many flights are only once a day and from some islands, you can only fly to Manila. So to get to Palawan, we had to take a ferry from Bohol to Cebu, take a flight from Cebu to Manila, stay the night in Manila, then take a flight to Puerto Princessa, Palawan (only once a day). The other thing is that our flight which was supposed to leave at 7 pm, did not leave until 11:30 pm. WHEW! So we finally arrived in Puerto Princessa and took a jeepney (oh this is another story all together) to a tiny town called Sabang (population about 200? basically: forget internet, good luck finding a cash exchange and most of the town is related).

Upon jumping off the top (yes mom, the roof) of the Jeepney at Sabang, we were met by a one man welcoming committee named Frances. He was very helpful. We had planned on meeting Doyle and Rachel at a particular hostel, as they had to run some errands in Puerto Princessa before coming to meet with us in Sabang. Frances showed us where to go, invited us to dinner, introduced us to his friends and invited us to join him the next day for karaokee. When Doyle and Rachel arrived, he also showed them where to find us. We had lunch at his friend Helen's restarurant and then dinner at the place he worked, who opened back up the restaurant, fired up the grill and cooked us a marvelous piece of fresh fish along with the best garlic rice I have had so far.

The next day, Doyle woke us up bright and early for a...cock fight. Our cock lost (Doyle bet 100 pesos - big spender) but it was an interesting sight to see. Next, Frances took us to the underground river, on a hike through the jungle where we saw monkeys and monitor lizards and then taught us how to climb a coconut tree (after which we all climbed easily to the top - haha). That night, we had a very nice dinner at Helen's again (oh by the way, she has a tiny pet monkey - soooo cute!) and then went out to the (one) bar and sang to our little heart's content. I think Rachel won the karaoke contest. The machine actually rates you (not sure what it rates you on!) and you get a score after you are done singing... It was a riot! Frances and I sang Hotel California and got a 95! Doyle had one beer, was drunk (haha) and sang Sweet Caroline. Actually I think Doyle has the best voice, even though he is too shy (what! Doyle? Shy?) to use it. We went home shortly before the power went off (they are on generators and only have power from 6pm -1 am (or 10 in some places, but not the karaoke bar!)

The following day we took a boat from Sabang to El Nido, where we went diving, went island hopping, ate lots of cheese omelets and rice, drank lots of San Miguel and did not do karaoke even though I thought that it was time S took the mike and showed us what he was really made of. Here we learned of the death of S Irwin, ironically just the day before we were about to go diving, and here I was hoping we would see some sting rays...

From El Nido, we flew back to Manila on a... 12 person plane, with a dirt/rock runway and rainy weather. I swear the pilot was sticking his head out the window of the plane to try and see where the airport was... But we (somehow) made it safely to Manila, alive and in one piece. We had dinner all together and then Rachel and Doyle went one way and S and I went the other. The plan is that Rachel and Doyle are still going to spend up until the 16th in the Philippines, while S and I are on our way to the island of Borneo, to Sabah, Malaysia...

So... Next Stop: Borneo! Here we go...

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