Swim at Nagtabon Beach
This is a picturesque beach, lined with coconut trees located 35 kms north west of Puerto Princesa on the west coast. Rent a motorbike and turn off the road at Bacungan (just after km 22) then cross to the other side of the island on a dirt road, which will lead you uphill on a rocky track, then you will descend to the beach stopping to admire the spectacular views. You will probably find a few other day-trippers there, but there won't be many, due to the lack of transport and the bad state of the road. Unfortunately there is no longer any accommodation there and nowhere to eat, so bring your own food. Picnic tables under native huts can be rented for around 200 pesos a day. Fish for bbqing may be purchased from the fishermen who live at the small settlement at the southern end of the beach. Beware of the current.
The road across the island has now been concreted, enabling to get there much quicker. Only the last few hundred meters down the hill to the beach is a rough track and has to be driven with care.
Out and about
Getting around in the town is easy, and there are loads of interesting shops and things to see. Away from the mall's and upmarket shops, which there are plenty, the streets in and around those shops are busy with ordinary local life.
And everyone seemed friendly too. Not just like somebody wanting something from you, the people make you feel welcome, letting on and smiling, and not hounding you to buy something from them.
Sure, you get the taxi's and tour operators asking if you need to to go somewhere, but when you say no thank you, that's it, it's done, and they part with a smile and not a frown.
We loved that about it.
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Take me to the best beach you know!
I was excited about this, a nice afternoon on a lovely beach. I knew there was lovely beaches here, because I had seen one on Davidjo's Nagtabon Beach page , but not to be for us sadly.
We asked our driver to take us to the best beach he knew, and he said Pristine Beach was the best, and so off we went at a charge of 200 peso. The drive to beach took us about 15 mins, and finished with a drive down a long bumpy narrow track. Coming back out I had to push the taxi out of a muddy hole, no problem though, I'm not the lightest guy in the world.
When we got to the end of the track, there was just mangrove and then water to the edge of the mangrove, with huts on stilts. The beach must have been there somewhere, but the tide must have been in, I think.
It wasn't the beach we had hoped for, but it was still a lovely spot to take a picture. The driver then wanted to charge us 500 peso to get back!! Now we were captive at the end of the track, we said no way and we started to walk, he said OK 200. Shows you, but that's human nature and nothing I wouldn't expect from most places, by some people.
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JOSE RIZAL STATUE
Outside the Cathedral there is the customary statue of the country's hero, Jose Rizal (every town usually has a statue of the great man). He was executed on trumped up charges by the Spanish at the young age of 35. I have written about him in my Manila tips so rather than repeating myself, if you want to know more about him you may look at the website posted below
- Historical Travel
GO FOR A JOG or a WALK
There are a few routes that are quite nice to enjoy an early morning jog or a late afternoon stroll.
1) I normally jog the black route that i have marked on the map (sorry that my line is not quit straight but i an unfamiliar with using paint). You can actually start on the road perpendicular to the airport and the road is in good condition. As you turn into the tree lined Gabinete Road there are a few houses each side and after 1.3 kms you will pass by Camilla Homes Subdivision, then there are houses each side of the road until you reach the intersection and turn right. Abueg Road is quite wide and you will also see many trees. To return to your starting point turn right at the first surfaced road that you came to. On this route there will be very little traffic. 3.6 kms
2) You can start the blue route at the same point, but continue along Manalo Extension and the road will eventually curve to the right. This part of the road has recently been concreted and i excellent for jogging, but after you turn right you will see the brand new hotel with 500 rooms and 3 swimming pools (not quite open as i write) . The road then becomes very rough, albeit still surfaced but has been destroyed by many trucks that used to deliver building materials to the various construction sites, but you will be able to catch glimpses of the sea. You will eventually reach the intersection which you will pass straight through and follow the directions of the red route until you reach your starting point. Again, very little traffic. Estimated 5-5.5 kms
3 ) The red route takes you through some back streets and you will encounter some traffic. You could start the circuit at any point, depending on the location of your hotel/GH, But it is easy to start from Mendoza Park area, just walk up Valencia Street until you reach Abad Santos which will be the third street you come to. Turn left and start your jog. The area will have houses each side so be careful of vehicles if you are jogging at rush hour time when children and workers are either leaving or coming home. Basically you will jog as far as you can, then you will come to "T" junction by the Italian restaurant where you will turn left. Another 300m, another "T: junction where you will again turn right. Jog as far as you can then after 20 minutes or so the road will take you to the right. Then take the second road on the right and that will be Abad Santos, where you can jog back to your starting point. Estimeaed 5.5-6kms
EVEN THE DEAD PAY RENT
There are four cemeteries in town, two private and two government owned and there are rather sme strange customs. The two city cemeteries are bursting at the seams while the m newer private cemetery is located on a prime piece of real estate overlooking the sea with the mountains in the background. Both are located in an area of town called Parola but are vastly different. The city cemetery is where the poorer people are laid to rest, normally in tombs above ground but in the newer cemetery the dead are buried underground. Whereas the city cemetery is overgrown and not looked after well, the new cemetery is exceptionally well maintained.
The cost of burying someone in the private cemetery can be as expensive as in Europe and there are many hidden charges such as taxes on the plot of land. There are payments that must be made annually, and if not, the remains of the dead may be removed. I believe that in the city cemetery rent must be paid after 5 years. In some parts of the country i have seen evidence of this, with a skeleton lying in open view on top of a tomb.
What a strange coincidence. After writing this review today, my wife returned home from the cemetery today to see her father's grave and saw some bones scattered around, including the skull!
SHOOT and PLAY POOL with the COASTGUARD
The Coast guard have a cosy little compound at the end of Gabinete Road in Jacana. Inside the compound they have a firing range, a pool table, some animals in cages, and several alsations belonging to their K9 unit. The firing range is still under construction but i believe you have to get permission from the commander to use it, but not sure if the guns are provided. You can have a friendly game of pool with the members there.
The coastguard will help any seafaring vehicle that is in trouble or arrest illegal fishermen and tow their boat back to Puerto Princesa, as well as protect the marine sanctuaries.
REPAIR A FLAT TYRE on your RENTED MOTORBIKE
Should you need your flat tire repaired just look for a sign that normally says 'vulcaniser' and is painted on an old tire at the side of the road. These guys are marvelous as they actually repair the inner tube without removing the tire from the bike. They will quickly remove one side of the tire from the rim and then they will be able to get access to the tube and immerse ti in water, while rotating it at the same time to find the puncture. They will have an old piston with fuel burning inside it and they will clamp the tube down, already with a patch, and 5 minutes later you will be ready to go.
If the valve is coming away from the tube, no need to buy a new inner tube as they have a trick on how to replace the valve. They will cut the valve out, then place it inside the tube, then put a patch over the hole by the same method as above. They will then find the head of the valve and gently tap it with a hammer until it comes through the patch, then they will wind a small strip of rubber around the base of the valve, attach it through the rim and replace the nut on the valve. This will last for a few weeks or even longer-----might save you some money at the motorbike rental shop. Cost of repair--around 30 pesos. Valve replacement--a little more.
BEAUTIFUL RATTAN FURNITURE
About 200 m from the Capitol Building on the National Highway you may see 3 or 4 shops where the local craftsmen will be busy making rattan furniture, anything from bar stools, beds, sofas, and rocking chairs. It takes quite some time to make the furniture which is reflected in the price which would be similar if the furniture was made from hardwood.
VISIT THE FURNITURE STALLS
At San Jose market you will find perhaps 15 to 20 furniture shops, with a good selection of furniture on offer at quite reasonable prices. There are only a couple of shops where you will see the carpenters at work because most of the workshops are out of town. Before it was very easy to purchase furniture made from Ipil, a very had and heavy wood but now it is quite difficult to get hold off as there are rules and regulations about cutting the trees down, so most of the wood will be a mixture of different types. Even so you can still find some quality furniture . Double beds will cost around 6,000 pesos, dining table and chairs for 6, around 14,000, wardrobe 10,000.
There are also many bamboo chairs for sale too, but the bamboo has to be soaked in seawater and treated against termites and other critters that may burrow in to the bamboo.
KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS
The Knights of Colombus were established in the Philippines as early as April 1905 in Intramuros, Manila, but all the 31 original members were American. The organisation grew and by 1980 there were 40,000 Filipino Knights.
The objective of the knights is to help members financially if required, help the sick, disabled and needy members, promoting intellectual intercourse among its members and promoting and conducting educational, charitable, religious social welfare, war relief and welfare, and public relief work.
You will find a small monument to the Knights on the South Highway on your right just before you cross the bridge around km 8
AL-FAROUQ INSTITUTE, A BIT RUN DOWN
Al-Farouq Institute has seen better days and the surrounding buildings are in need of repair. I found the few people in the co,pound to be very friendly and helpful. There is also a mosque in the compound and both are well known in Palawan because of easy accessibility. The Institute and Mosque are administered by the Islamic World Committee based in Kuwait, but they have a substitute office in Cagayan De Oro headed by Shiak Abdul Aziz Al Uthman.
Its mission is to train people in the Islamic Way and often there are Islamic Lectures. There is also a library, audio and video which is open to all for research.
IF IN TROUBLE go to the POLICE STATION
Should you have your passport, camera or anything stolen you should go to the Philippine National Police whose station is located just before the National Highway splits between the North and South.
Normally a report is free and you would need one for your insurance company, but you might find that bringing some cakes or snack might be appreciated.
SAVE MONEY--PRINT YOUR DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHS
You may like to print your photographs here nefore returning home as it is more than likely it will be less expensive. At most shops you can wait while they print them, or you can return in an hour or so if you have many.
At Robinsons Mall, just outside town there are two place, both on the second floor---Photoline and Picture City.
In Rizal Avenue there is a place opposite Mendoza Park-----IMAGE FACTOR
And if you pass the traffic lights by Mendoza Park, walk 100m you will see another place on your left---Digital Photo Express
TRIBAL BASKETS, JEWELERY and CONTAINERS
If you like to see the wonderful baskets, jewelery and other items that are worn or used by the tribes on the island pop along to the Heritage Center at the Legislative Building. It is open daily from 9-5, but is closed on Saturday and Sunday.
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