PUERTO PRINCESA, THE PHILIPPINES, OCTOBER 25TH -NOVEMBER 1st 2017

it’s only four hours from Seoul to Manila and another one and a half hour flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa our first stop in the Philippines BUT! it took us almost two days to do this travel.We had breakfast with Andrew Tuesday morning in Songtan ( poor JungWon was back at doctors, she had originally taken sick a few weeks before in Brisbane,tonsillitis).

Andrew drove us to the bus stop and we took the 11:15 bus to Incheon airport.

We just missed the hourly shuttle to our hotel so had a coffee at the airport before the next shuttle.

The hotel had been refurbished since our last visit and was extremely comfortable, a nice last night for our South Korean stay. We reorganised bags and tested weights as we were to be on strict restrictions from Manila to Puerto Princesa. Had a lovely curry and a couple of reds for dinner and set our alarm to make sure we would make the first 6am shuttle to airport  our 8am departure to Manila using Philippine airways.

We had a long wait at Manila for our flight onwards and it was around 7pm that we arrived at Floral Villarosa our hotel for our stay in Puerto Princesa.

This is a lovely little complex, around 11 villas with a great garden and pool. The staff are fabulous and all would be perfect if it was just closer to town. This was going to be a fairly quick four night stay, to unwind and settle into Filipino culture, do a few day trips and discuss our next move.



However James dental work has required us to stay a few days longer and then  a return later to finish it off. We’re waiting to see if the impression taken and flown to Manila is ok, if not another impression will need to be done. The dentist James found online came with some good testimonials and was listed as Vanilla smiles. In fact when we arrived there was no sign for vanilla smiles and we were at a community hospital where doctors each have their own “shop” we did found the dentist (still no sign for vanilla smiles,but they were expecting James).  NEVER NEVER COMPLAIN ABOUT THE HEALTH CARE WHERE YOU LIVE. That’s not to say they don’t have good medical practitioners here, just that they’re working under hard conditions.


It was two hours before he came out and we were happy to get a tricycle home. A tricycle is a motorbike converted to accomodate up to five people. Every ride around here is 50 pesos around $1.25 Australian. We had gone into the town a bit earlier and found the SM shopping Mall. A 21st century western style shopping centre that was to be honest a welcome sight. It’s hard to say BUT sometimes it’s just nice to find something totally familiar somewhere you wouldn’t expect it, that’s all I’m . We found out a few days later that it only opened last month.

We have had breakfast and dinner every night except one at our hotel as there really isn’t any other options without going into the town centre, too far to walk so we’ve been extremely happy that the meals served are of a good variety and cheap enough. It seems most people staying here are of the same mind and we have all chatted along happily swapping tour advice etc. We’re happy to see that quite a few have been our age group.

Our first full day saw us having a walk around the area around the hotel and quickly realised that there’s not a lot to do here without getting a tricycle somewhere. So after our trip into town and dentist we were back to hotel for a swim in the pool and relax before dinner.

We decided on a Honda Bay tour for our second day and the hotel organised everything, they’re very good. We were picked up in a comfortable van and joined a great group of people for our days outing to three different beaches for snorkeling, swimming, with lunch included.

We visited starfish beach, Luli beach and Cowrie island.






Cowrie Island was our last stop and the one marked for just swimming and sun baking or sleeping, there are beach massages available and a bar serving very reasonably priced drinks, about $4 for a frozen margarita or daiquiri.

Unfortunately when we arrived so did the rain.


However we enjoyed a drink and sat out of the rain after having had a great day already with some good snorkeling.I had taken a seasick tablet and was fine all day, so I was happy.

They had quite a few of these life size sculptures of people, some we recognised, Beyoncé, Hulk Hogan, and others we didn’t, like the football player, golfer, surfer dude, but it added a bit of fun to the place.

Everyone on the tour was lovely, and we had some great chats about where people came from, one couple she was from Uzbekistan and he was Iranian, but they met in Japan and both did their University doctorates here in The Philippines and now live in Colorado.  Anyway everyone waved each other off at the end of the day thanking each other for the good company and wishing safe travels  each other.
Our third day we were thinking of just relaxing poolside but after our breakfast the rain started and we decided to go to the mall and pick up a few toiletries we were running out of.

We were mooching around in our room reading when our neighbour kiwi Kate knocked on the door and asked if we wanted to go out for dinner, she had a few choices and we decided on the Baywalk for dinner. This is an area by the port where pop up seafood restaurants open at night. We couldn’t say yes quick enough.

The poor tricycle all but died with three European sized people in it.

Much to our surprise and pleasure there was a scooter show and shine competition on. These scooters were their owners pride and joy and several had the prerequisite showgirl on their stand. Kate and I tried to do them out of a job with our showgirl pouting skills (don’t think we will get a call back somehow).


Our dinner wasn’t that great and it was really down to thinking a set menu with different tastings would be great value when we should have just chosen a fish and a few of the magnificent looking tiger prawns and had them grilled. Oh well the conversation and company was great and the atmosphere tops.


We have booked a tour of the underground river tomorrow (Sunday)and there is also a city tour you can do so may do that Monday afternoon. Well we had a fabulous day at the underground river, a unesco site and one of the new seven natural wonders of the world. The drive was extremely scenic and reminiscent of Bali with its coconut trees and rice paddies. The exception being NO RUBBISH littering the countryside. There is a fine for first two offences then a higher fine and six month Gail term for a third. Clearly working.

It also had a look of French Polynesia with its mountain ranges as well.                                                                                                         It was delightful to be part of a group where we were the only non Filipinos to enjoy this incredible day.

We arrived at Sabang harbour and distributed into outrigger boats for the trip to the beach where the underground river begins.

The strict conservation regulations put in place have kept this area pristine and I congratulate the Filipino community for their strong stance. It’s like a lost paradise and the trip through the river is one we will remember as a highlight of our time here.       It’s breathtaking and I can’t recommend this trip highly enough for anyone visiting this area.




Once at the beach you walk through the forest to an area where you are given a safety helmet along with the life vest you have been wearing since the Sabang harbour and into a boat with a guide with a strong torch and the tour begins.

They warn you not to open your mouth and go WOW as the cave is inhabited by bats and you could get a mouthful of bat 🦇 pee. They also ask everyone to not talk and not touch anything to keep it pristine for future generations.

This allows for a beautiful serene and awesome experience where the headphone guides you are each given relays all the information you need as the boatman glides you through the one and a half kilometres that tours take you. The river is in fact over 8 kilometres but that’s restricted. Not a bad thing for preserving something so special.

The stalagmites and stalactites and other rock formations including cathedral sized areas just showed why this has natural World wonder and unesco listing. Photos didn’t come out so well but we will remember it forever. Lunch was included and at around $55 Aus great value.

We did indeed book the city tour for Monday afternoon. Another thoroughly enjoyable day as yet again we were the only non Filipinos on the excursion. It’s been great to talk with everyone  and laugh and enjoy our tours together.

Once at the beach you walk through the forest to an area where you are given a safety helmet along with the life vest you have been wearing since the Sabang harbour and into a boat with a guide with a strong torch and the tour begins.

They warn you not to open your mouth and go WOW as the cave is inhabited by bats and you could get a mouthful of bat 🦇 pee. They also ask everyone to not talk and not touch anything to keep it pristine for future generations.

This allows for a beautiful serene and awesome experience where the headphone guides you are each given relays all the information you need as the boatman glides you through the one and a half kilometres that tours take you. The river is in fact over 8 kilometres but that’s restricted. Not a bad thing for preserving something so special.

The stalagmites and stalactites and other rock formations including cathedral sized areas just showed why this has natural World wonder and unesco listing.

Photos didn’t come out so well but we will remember it forever.

Lunch was included and at around $55 Aus great value.

We did indeed book the city tour for Monday afternoon. Another thoroughly enjoyable day as yet again we were the only non Filipinos on the excursion. It’s been great to talk with everyone and laugh and enjoy our tours together. I think the highlight was the butterfly eco garden and tribal village.

We were guided around by I’m quite sure a ladyboy who was as tall as James and so enthusiastic about what there was to see.

We saw beetles, scorpions, unique geckos, millipedes, crocodiles, butterflies etc but the highlight was the tribal village. This is a place where The tribespeople from the highlands come and stay, sometimes a few days sometimes a week or more and sell their handiwork and catch up with family.

They also show visitors parts of their way of life. Musical instruments and singing, blowpipe demonstration, how they make a fire with flints, (if I go on survivor I’m taking one of these people).

Anyway it was a very special time and they were truly lovely and friendly. And no big sell. They just wanted people to know about their culture. You could buy some of their handicrafts but there wasn’t any pressure.

This is in the butterfly enclosure.

Another great sop was at Binuatan creations. Here they make fantastic bags, wallets, lanyards, coin purses etc and you can all have a turn trying to weave.

James also found a new musical instrument there.ter the tour finished we asked to be dropped off at the SM mall as we had to finish paying and pick up vouchers for our next adventures in Palawan.

We visited a local travel agent in the morning to purchase tickets for the overnight ferry to Coron.

We leave midnight Wednesday Nov 1st and arrive at 3pm Thursday. We booked a private cabin and including breakfast and lunch at about $130 Aus we thought good value.

We will have a week there and we booked accommodation with the travel agent for Coron and also ElNido where we will take the fast ferry to on the 9th November staying till the 20th when we will return to Puerto Princesa for the fitting of James dental repair, it’s like a crown but not.

We have filled our time here quite easily as it turns out and are looking forward to the next chapter of our month in the Philippines.

On a side note I just had to include this photo of the fridges at the supermarket and how much space is used for hot dogs! The same amount of fridge space is used for all those other incidentals like milk, cheese, yoghurt etc.

James also found a new musical instrument there.ter the tour finished we asked to be dropped off at the SM mall as we had to finish paying and pick up vouchers for our next adventures in Palawan.

We visited a local travel agent in the morning to purchase tickets for the overnight ferry to Coron.

We leave midnight Wednesday Nov 1st and arrive at 3pm Thursday. We booked a private cabin and including breakfast and lunch at about $130 Aus we thought good value.

We will have a week there and we booked accommodation with the travel agent for Coron and also ElNido where we will take the fast ferry to on the 9th November staying till the 20th when we will return to Puerto Princesa for the fitting of James dental repair, it’s like a crown but not.

We have filled our time here quite easily as it turns out and are looking forward to the next chapter of our month in the Philippines.

On a side note I just had to include this photo of the fridges at the supermarket and how much space is used for hot dogs! The same amount of fridge space is used for all those other incidentals like milk, cheese, yoghurt etc. And these new flavour ice creams, avocado macchiato, and avocado and peanut butter, didn’t try either so can’t give it the thumbs up or down.

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