Palawan Adventure by The Pinoy Rider
The Provincial Map of Palawan
Just a week after traveling to the beautiful Kaybiang Tunnel in Ternate, I went on a birthday trip to Palawan. Initially, I wanted to bring my Honda CBR to Palawan but upon checking the costs, I figured maybe next time when I get rich, so I just booked a plane ticket. It was alright with me because I knew that motorbike rental shops in Palawan are abundant. I also knew some people who are renting out their own bikes so bike condition wouldn’t be a problem.
Motorbike rentals are abundant all over Puerto Princesa
I arrived in Palawan with Belle at around 1 pm so we were very hungry by the time we checked out of the airport, and while looking for a restaurant on board our tricycle, I was amazed by the sheer number of motorcycle rentals shops along Rizal Avenue, which is the main thoroughfare in Puerto Princesa.
Puerto Princesa is a city located in the western provincial island of Palawan. Though the provincial seat of government for Palawan, the city itself is one of 38 independent cities within the Philippines not controlled by the province in which it is geographically located and is therefore an independent area located within Palawan.
Today, Puerto Princesa is a popular tourist city with many beach resorts and seafood restaurants. Puerto Princesa is also home to more secluded and less commercial beaches. Moreover, it has been acclaimed several times as the cleanest and greenest city in the Philippines. In fact, one can make a citizen’s arrest in Puerto Princesa if one local catches you littering in the city streets.
Where to go? I am excited to roam around…
Where to stay? Balay Tuko Garden Inn
Balay, is a Visayan term meaning house, shelter or home.
The tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) is a nocturnal arboreal gecko, ranging from northeast India, to Nepal and Bangladesh, throughout Southeast Asia, Philippines to Indonesia and western New Guinea. Its native habitat is rainforest trees and cliffs, and it also frequently adapts to rural human habitations, roaming walls and ceilings at night in search of insect prey. The tokay gecko is known as tuko in the Philippines.
I arrived in Palawan wanting to rest on the first time because of the hectic schedule that I had before taking this Birthday trip so I wanted to get an accommodation which isn’t too far from the city and one that would spell relaxation. According to my Palawan friends, this resort has been gaining popularity not only because of its amenities but also due to the stress-free experience Balay Tuko Garden Inn would give you. Upon arriving at the resort, me and Belle were greeted by the staff with warm smiles and a very welcoming vibe.
Surrounded by Acacia and Tamarind trees, Balay Tuko Garden Inn boasts of a large indoor swimming pool, a very beautiful garden which is reminiscent of the old-style gardens we see in Filipino movies, yet still maintaining that modern look due to its surrounding building.
The standard room that we got reminded me that having a good experience need not be expensive. It also had the homey feel It was very spacious, yet very clean. It also had most of the things I needed when it comes to getting a room – a large LCD, air-condition, hot and cold shower, not to mention the fact that I had a great view of the whole establishment.
The Balay Tuko Garden Inn is located at Km. 7 North National Highway, Barangay San Manuel, Puerto Princesa City.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Balay Tuko Garden Inn
A bike to tour around Palawan?
In this birthday trip, I wanted to make it a bit more special. Instead of just traveling by plane and booking a tour, I decided to celebrate my birthday trip by riding a motorbike around Palawan.
The Puerto Princesa International Airport is located at Rizal Avenue in Puerto Princesa City. Upon arrival, you will see a long row of establishments in Rizal Avenue, and a lot of them are motorcycle rental shops. What I did was to leave our stuff at the hotel first since Belle and I were carrying a lot of things. Upon checking, you would be overwhelmed by the number of bike rental shops. They had different types of bikes – underbones, standard bikes, motards. Rentals range from 400 pesos for the underbones to 1000 pesos per day for the more expensive ones like the XR200. Good thing I got a discount from one of my contacts in motorcyclephilippines. I ended up getting a souped-up Yamaha Mio Soul from nofearutoy of MCP (mobile number 0927 957 4714). It was all I really needed since I wouldn’t be doing much off-roading anyway as the itinerary I set mostly revolved around Puerto Princesa.
Should you guys be in Puerto Princesa and want to tour around the city, all you need is a government ID and a deposit to be able to do so for the bike rental. The bike will be given to you with a full tank of gas so you should also return it the same way.
A vacation isn’t complete without indulging in mouth-watering delicacies!
Of course since safety is always a priority and an Epic Ride wouldn’t be complete without being protected by safety gears. Yes that is correct; I brought my safety gears to Palawan. At first I was hesitant because my LS2 FF370 Breeze Helmet and RS Taichi jacket would have to be checked in instead of being a carry on, but I can’t risk going on a tour without having them with me. I am actually very proud to say that I have never gone on a motorcycle ride without having my safety gears on me. I hope that the example I am setting would influence other riders to follow suit because having them not only makes you feel safer, but it actually reduces the risk of a fatal damage in case of an accident. When riding without your certified helmet, don’t only think of yourself, but also of your loved ones.
The Palawan Butterfly Garden is home to these beautiful creatures
Armed only with a topographic map, I started my journey around Puerto Princesa.
Aside from white sand beaches, another good place to visit here is Baker’s Hill, a park and a compound of bakeshops that sell what locals hail as the best-tasting breads and pastries in the city.
The place definitely did not disappoint because right at the entrance, the smell of freshly-baked goodness is a nice welcome to the senses.
This is a popular tourist destination in Palawan due to its proximity in the city, as it is only about 15 minutes away. Life-sized cartoon characters will greet you as you enter Baker’s Hill. Baker’s hill offers delightful breads and pastries, but for me what the kids like the most about the place is the life sized statues within the compound. Really nothing much for me to see here except for the different stores and the bakeshop.
Pagkatapos mamasyal at mag meryenda ng fresh fruit shakes and freshly made pizza, namili ako ng mga tinapay at naguwi ng hopyang ube at baboy mula sa bakery.
Aside from posing with life-size replicas of Disney cartoon characters such as Snow White and Looney Toons and a cartoon replica of Marilyn Monroe, you could also pose on a replica of a body holding a crocodile, which reminds tourist of another popular spot to visit in Palawan.
Baker’s Hill is located at Mitra Road in Barangay Sta. Monica. There is no entrance fee.
Typical Palawan roadside scenery
This facility houses Palawan’s exotic animals and also serves as their breeding facility
Ever since I was young, I’ve always feared crocodiles and alligators (I didn’t know the difference that time). They are huge, scary, and strong so I guess it’s only justifiable that I don’t really feel comfortable around them. They have this cold piercing expression in their eyes, one might be too complacent and try to get near them since they appear to be harmless then boom! They attack as fast as lighting. Nakakatakot naman talaga diba? Hehe. But that’s just me. Anyway, medyo malayo ang Crocodile Farm o ang Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center compared sa ibang tourist destinations in Puerto Princesa. Madadaanan mo pa ang daan papuntang Baker’s Hill at Buttefly Garden. In fact, papunta ka na sa Iwahig, o kabilang town, bago mo marating ang Crocodile Farm.
The way to the crocodile farm is a smooth to bumpy ride. There are roads that are still under construction, so having a multicab or tricycle to get you there is totally not a good idea. I felt this as I was only driving a small scooter, with a backride to boot! Due to the dusty road and of course the summer heat, you’ll be suffering. But, for a budget traveler, these kinds of problems are not considered as problems at all. Hey, it wouldn’t be an adventure if you’re too comfortable in your trip. Budget travelers like me can do this, however for some, these situations are far from perfect, so hiring an airconditioned van, might be better for some, or a dual-purpose bike like a Honda XR200. Since we arrived in Palawan in the afternoon and we had to rest a couple of hours at our hotel, we got to the Crocodile Farm at around 4:15 pm only to find out that it closes at 4:00. What a way to start our vacation but that’s all right since the employees there were very accommodating and still let us in even after the closing time.
The farm features several crocodiles. I would assume na baka umabot ng 100 ang bilang ng mga ito since they do their own breeding. Naka separate din ang mga maliliit sa mga adults na typically ay nasa 30 to 35 years old.
Crocodiles are found in tropical countries like the Philippines, India, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, etc. Crocodiles have long, triangle-shaped heads. The teeth of a crocodile stay outside the mount when it is closed. You can see both the upper and lower teeth and the crocodile looks like it is grinning. And a bit of trivia: Crocodiles have an average of 66 strong, sharp and conically-shaped teeth. They are able to replace lost or worn-out teeth by growing new ones. In its lifetime, a crocodile may go through as many as 3,000 teeth!
The baby crocodiles are positioned in small tanks which are only protected by a chicken wire fence at the top. For me this is very dangerous since these young crocs can easily jump and bite you most especially when they are hungry. Scary indeed! I had a picture taken near one and I just prayed to be still alive after the photo. Hahaha. Along with not tapping the tanks and making loud noises, I was also reminded by the on-site tour guide not to use flash photography when taking photos as these quick bursts of light actually stresses the baby crocodiles so that one was a no-no as well.
After going through the pens where the small crocs were living, we were then led to where the big crocs were. Big was an understatement really, there was 1 crocodile there that was nearly 20 feet long and he was stationed right under the bridge that you had to cross to see the crocodile pen. Para sa mga adult crocodiles, we had to go to an elevated viewing deck since talaga naman malalaki at mahahaba itong mga buwayang ito. Nagdasal nalang ako na wag maputol yung ledge because I wouldn’t know what to do had that happened! Lol.
Philippine Wildlife Resource and Conservation Center or known before as Irawan Crocodile Farming Institute is the sanctuary of wildlife and mostly, crocodiles situated in Irawan, Palawan. In fact, two relatively new large crocodiles are dwelling in here today. These crocodiles were caught last February 13 and 14, 2012, wherein, the crocodile names were derived; “Valentino” and “Valentina”. Valentino is 16 feet long while Valentina is 10 feet long.
With the Pinay Backrider hehe
Valentina is almost half as large as “Lolong”, the official largest crocodile in captivity as recorded in Guinness book of records. Lolong is 20 feet, 3 inches long captured in Bunawan, Agusan del Surlast September 2011. According to sassy zeal, Lolong is named after Ernesto “Lolong” Goloran Cañete, one of the veteran crocodile hunters from the Palawan Crocodile and Wildlife Reservation Center who led the hunt. A local hero perhaps?
I’ve also learned that these creatures aren’t really what we perceived them to be – when we call someone buwaya. It’s unfair for the crocodiles to be associated with our politicians since these are not greedy reptiles, as a fully grown adult usually eats only once every two to three weeks.
Although popularly known as the Palawan Crocodile Farm, this haven for wildlife and nature enthusiasts houses several exotic and endangered animals as well. Among these are the Palawan bearcat, mynah, parrot, hornbill, porcupine, and other reptiles!
As their tagline goes – Palawan Wildlife…See it, Sense it, Save it!
The Philippine Wildlife Resource and Conservation Center is located by the National Road in Irawan and is open daily from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Prepare 40 pesos for your entrance ticket, and this includes access to the whole facility as well as the services of a tour guide.
Rouser Club of the Philippines Palawan welcomes The Pinoy Rider
One of Palawan’s premiere motorcycle clubs, the Palawan chapter of RCP or Rouser Club of the Philippines, set a special tambay night on a weekday to welcome me. RCP Palawan currently has 27 active members, excluding backrides. This group has been very active in Palawan in terms of civic activities for the less fortunate. Among their most recent activities would be a visit to the Batac tribes for an outreach activity, volunteering for the Palawan Disaster and Rescue team, and even volunteering for the fire brigade! So every ride is important as a lot of people will benefit from their outreach activities. Truly a riding club with a cause.
Almost all the members were present as we met at Robinson’s Palawan, their homebase. It was very nice to see them full force in welcoming me even though the group had a tree planting activity at the Pista y Cagueban or Feast of the Forest and had to meet up as early as 4 am the next day.
As a token of my appreciation and their support for Inside Racing Magazine, I gave out some copies of IR magazines as well as some Inside Racing stickers, which everyone liked.
Traveling is not only about going to different destinations and going to new places, but sometimes it is also about meeting new friends, and learning from them.
Thank you for the warm welcome RCP-Palawan! ‘Til next time my friends.
– Erik Gatmaitan is the author of http://www.pinoyrider.com – Journeying the Philippines SOLO on a motorbike.
Follow his adventures on his website or through his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/PinoyRider