CHECK YOUR HOTEL'S WATER SUPPLY
I have lived in Puerto Princesa for nearly 20 years and have never known a water shortage like this year. It is only April and water is scarce, so it is being rationed to different parts of the city at different times. The more expensive types of accommodation should be fine as they will have their own water supply or large enough tanks to provide water for their customers, but the cheaper guest houses may be relying on city water and you may find that there is only running water for a few hours in the middle of the night. One can survive without electricity for a day or two but life becomes difficult if there is no water to take a shower so when checking in don't forget to ask about the water supply........and the situation will only get worse as it is still 3 months until the rainy season begins.
Unfortunately the city has doubled in size and population over the last few years but the authorities have not been able to cope adequately with the water supply.
DON'T STAY NEAR SQUATTERS AREA
You will be amazed how often fires occur in the wooden shacks that the squatters live in. Since i have lived here there is usually at least one fire each year where up to 200 houses are destroyed. Usually the fire is started through faulty electrical wiring, or while someone has left something cooking on the gas range, or even dropping cigarette butts. These photos were taken yesterday after 20 houses were burnt at 2.15 am. The people lost everything they had. Usually when a fire like this occurs the city authorities relocate the people to a new site out of town where they are given some money to start their lives again, then the original site will be redeveloped.
UPDATE---2 weeks after writing this tip there was another fire destroying 80 more houses
CURRENTS ON THE WEST COAST
There are several beaches on the west coast of the island that are extremely dangerous for swimming if there are big waves (a meter high only).
The worst two beaches are Nagtabon, pictured below and City Beach which is a few kms south of Nagtabon on the road towards Napsan. Some years ago i was carried out to sea a few hundred meters at both beaches but fortunately i knew what to do and did not panic. If the current should take you, don't fight it , just go with it, remain calm or try to swim out of it towards the left or right, then you should be able to swim back to shore once you are out of the danger area. At Nagtabon around 20 people have drowned so take this warning seriously. I, myself helped rescue two foreigners who were swept out to sea three years ago. Luckily there was a meeting of villagers on the beach so i was able to get a boat organised, but if there were no other locals around the two in distress would have certainly drowned.
GREAT TO SIT ON TOP BUT DANGEROUS
Tourists often like to travel on the roof of a jeepney, whether this is due to it being crowded down below or more likely for the fresh air and views on top, but you should think twice about doing so as it can be very dangerous.
Quite a few years ago there was a Canadian tourist who decided to sit on top but during the trip she was knocked off the roof by a branch of a tree. Since the accident she has been confined to a wheelchair with paralysis. I know of several other mishaps that have occurred by sitting on top of the jeepney, so it would be best to avoid this, or certainly keep an eye on the obstacles that you may encounter on the way.
PEDESTRIAN CROSSING---don't assume it is like home
In the last two years the city has painted black and white strips across the road-- yes pedestrian crossings. Do not assume that pedestrian crossings here operate in the same way as back home, namely by putting your foot on one the traffic will stop for you. Not here, i am afraid! Many of the motorbikes and vehicles will continue on their merry way without stopping even if you are half way across the road. Actually by the busy crossing near Mendoza Park there are traffic controllers with a loudspeaker informing drivers to stop and let the pedestrians cross the road, so maybe things will gradually change!!!
ROXAS OR ROXAS OR ROXAS
Some years ago i met a Brit who arrived in Palawan but originally had a ticket to Roxas, and several people on the plane asked him if he was going to Boracay. He could not understand this as he was intending to go to Roxas, Palawan until the plane landed in Roxas, Panay where Boracay is located. Last week i was in Port Barton,. Palawan where i was chatting to some travellers who were having a few days in El Nido then returning to Roxas for their flight to Manila. I informed them that there was no flight from Roxas to Palawan, but they corrected me to say they had flights with Cebu Pacific. Imagine their surprise when i told them that this flight must be from Rxas, Panay. Please search your flights carefully as many cities/towns have the same name, check the island carefully.
No I'm not referring to monkey hunters, but the monkeys themselves trying to snatch plastics or small bags they recognize as food. They're not at all harmful as they are allowed to roam around the area near the underground river but its better to be cautious coz it will be a funny sight of you running after the monkeys with your belongings. (lol)
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IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
In case of emergency while visiting Puerto Princesa you should take note of this number. You may never know when you need it! Theft, Accident, Attack.
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