The furthest west in the Philippines!!!

Trip Start Oct 18, 2007
Trip End Aug 2008

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Where I stayed
Banwa Pensionne House

Flag of Philippines  ,
Tuesday, January 29, 2008

It's unfortunate that I only had 2.5 days in this cozy little city, but at least I got a little taste.  I checked into the Banwa Pensionne House (highly recommend staying at this place! Cozy, artsy and Brian and Mimi made me feel quite at home).  On the first night (jan 29), I discussed with Brian and Mimi how I'd be able to make my way cheaply to Sabang, the village where the Underground River is located.  They were offering a package that included pick up/drop off service, lunch as well as the entrance fee to the place (grand total 1300P).  But there was a more economical way.

I woke up at 6am on Wednesday (jan 30) to catch a tricycle to San Jose Bus Terminal (30P from pensionne), then take the 2.5 hr jeepney ride to Sabang (110P) which leaves at 7am, then from there, pay the 150 P ("students" or Pinoys!) entrance fee (200P for "adults" or foreigners).  On the jeepney ride to Sabang, I befriended Mel, her sister, Jasmine and her boyfriend Michael from Ottawa... YAAAY!  Canada was well represented on this jeepney =D  We split the bangka ride to the entrance of the River (700P/boat; max cap of 6 people/boat), where we waited our turn for a smaller bangka to take us on our 45-min tour.  It was an entertaining tour and I can't imagine what it must have been like for the first explorers who ventured into that cavernous space.  I'm pretty sure Gollum lurked in the darkness, but thankfully we didn't see him.  In total, my adventure cost ~800P, including lunch at a resto overlooking the beach!  Woot wooot!  I felt quite proud of myself for navigating the bumpy roads, and standing up to the bus driver who attempted to rip me off (he claimed that the return route was 600P/person, to which I responded that he had to be crazy and just handed him 110P like I had paid for the morning trip!)

In the future, if I ever return to Puerto, I definitely want to make a point to check out Honda Bay.  If anyone's thinking of heading to the Underground River, I would recommend renting one of the many lovely looking cottages in Sabang and staying there at least overnight to make the trip worthwhile.  In hindsight, a 6hr-trip (a dusty and bumpy one at that) for a 45-min tour doesn't make much sense.  Also, I would love to one day check out Port Barton, El Nido and a cool sounding spot called Coconut Grove that was recommended by Mark, the cool english dude who chilled there for 11 WEEKS...

I took it easy on Thursday as I knew I would be travelling on Feb 1 (friday) to Bangkok. And what an awesome decision!!!  I had the great pleasure to meet the lovely Ashifa who was also staying at Banwa.  We started chatting and hit it off instantaneously!  Yup, another canadian to boot!  =D  We hung out and discovered Asiano, a funky jewelry/souvenir shop owned by Jojo and Fresh Cafe for yummy midafternoon snacks.  From there, we made our way back to the pensionne house, chatted with Mark and Tess from Sweden, then made our way to KaLui for a sumptuous dinner in the prettiest restaurant I've eaten at to date.  I love easy going days like that! 

Cebu Pacific changed the
initial flight I booked which was suppose to only leave Puerto to
Manila at 4pm to 8 am that morning.  BOOO.  My flight from Manila to
Bangkok would only be leaving at 10pm (which got delayed to 11pm...)
BOOOOOOOO.  I was worried that I'd be sitting, twiddling my thumbs while waiting for my flight in the evening, but lo and behold!  Armand, the talented singer/songwriter from Boracay happened to be in Manila at the time... as well as Markki!  These were the guys I'd met in Boracay!  Markki was on his way back home as well and was killing time at the airport... and I was able to convince Armand to come out and chill with me too!  What a happy reunion.  It's awesome when things work out like that!
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