Puerto Princesa with LOVE

I was checking on the Airasia website this morning and saw its announcement "Philippines’ AirAsia suspends routes from Clark to Puerto Princesa and Macau". WHAT? Are you serious?!

I am very lucky for having the chance to fly to Puerto Princesa from Clark last month, three days after my wedding. It was fun there, and I am quite sad with the announcement because Puerto Princesa is a very nice place (too bad, I did not have the opportunity to go to El Nido because of the long journey by bus).

The announcement says: AirAsia has always taken great consideration in deciding any changes of flights to destinations that we serve. Unfortunately, the current economic situation brought about by high cost of fuel and other operational challenges have placed cost pressures on our Clark - Macau and Clark – Puerto Princesa routes. Consequently, we need to rationalise and consolidate all our routes so we can continue to provide low fares to all our guests which AirAsia is known for.

MASwings recently announced the airline is aiming to fly to Puerto Princesa by the first quarter of 2013 after it has successfully taken off to Bandar Seri Begawan of Brunei, Pontianak and Tarakan Indonesia. I think this is one of the reason why Airasia withdrawn its route there because of competition.

To be honest, I am still hoping for Airasia to continue operating to the Philippines because I will always have the chance to grab its annual MEGA SALE. But MASwings also giving quite reasonable price, and with the new route flying direct from Kota Kinabalu, I am sure we will save time and and money for the accommodation (flying to Puerto Princesa from Kota Kinabalu will need you to stay overnight at Clark).

Why is Puerto Princesa is so special? My one-week trip there was amazing, I experienced Underground River, Honday Bay island hopping, city tour, shopping and also good food (not easy to find halal food but as long as you ask around, it wouldn't be a problem).

The young travelers!

First day we flew from KK to Clark (by Airasia, of course) and stayed there for a a night. We stayed in a family room of Walkabout Hotel at Fields Avenue Angeles City. Very comfy room, and the most important part is the swimming pool and restaurants are located at walking distance.

We had our dinner at Kokomos Hotel and Restaurant, but we were unlucky because the food wasn't that good. I ordered rice with meat, husband asked a plate of rice with chicken while my cousin and her daughter shared  another plate of rice with beef. It was salty, and not yummy. I have to eat instant noodle in the room. Mom also disappointed with her Australian Pie, while my little brother was the only one who satisfied with his lasagne (he must be hungry).

Rice with beef

Rice with chicken

Australian Pie

 Kokomos Lasagne

 It wasn't a great dinner for us but we are ready to rock the holiday.

 My beautiful niece enjoying her Nana's corn at Kokomas

On the second day, we arrived Puerto Princesa airport in the afternoon and had our lunch at Ka Inato before heading to the tourism centre to register four our Underground River trip ( For those who are keen on going, please be advised that you HAVE TO book your tour ahead because the chance of finding last minute tickets are highly unlikely).

After booking our tour for the third day, we checked-in at Puerto Apartments, a two-rooms family house belong to the Valencia family. Both husband and wife are retired and they are operating numbers of accommodation for daily, weekly or even monthly use.

Mr. Valencia is waiting for me at the airport's waiting area

After about an hour rest, we headed to Robinson Mall by tricycle (only PHP50 for six of us). Believe it! The tiney tricycle can load six of us and it work very well. Four of us sat on the passanger's seat, with my cousin carrying the little one, while my husband sat on the motorcycle with the driver. Amazing experience! 

At Robinson Mall, we suppose to watch Twilight Saga but the screening is only on the next day. So we decided to enjoy twenty-third James Bond film, Skyfall.After movie, we 'tapau' (take away) some food for dinner and bought some kitchen stuff for breakfast at the next morning,

Third day, five of us (excluding mom) went for a half-day City Tour, hosted by Kalokairi Travel and Tours. We paid PHP600 per pax for the tour inclusive of free snacks, air conditioned van, licensed tour guide and entrance fees. We covered Crocodile Farm, Baker's Hill, Mitra's Ranch, Binuatan Weaving Centre, Immaculate Conception Cathedral and Plaza Cuartel.

Honday Bay from Mitra's Ranch

The entrance of Crocodile Farm

 Husband is trying his weaving skills

 And the wife is posing for the camera. LOL. But I was good, tho!

I recommend Puerto Princesa for family vacation with small children to teach them about climate change. Known as a city in a forest, Puerto Princesa is a place where both man and environment lives together in perfect harmony. I must congratulate the mayor for his initiative in protecting the environment. Under his leadership, Puerto Princesa earned the reputation among travelers as the “cleanest and greenest city in the Philippines.” 

Although Kota Kinabalu, the city I came from are known as 'Nature Resort City', I don't see the concept have been practice compare to Puerto Princesa. People there plant lots lots of trees, they don't allow tall building etc. etc., while in Kota Kinabalu we cut hills, we chopped trees, build condominium on top of the hill, reclaim sea... so much damages to the mother nature...

When we were heading to Mitra's Ranch, my expectation was high. I was imagining Kundasang and Mount Kinabalu but  it disappointed me because our Kundasang is much much beautiful. There are pros and cons in the City Tour, but at least I have more time to spend with husband to discover new places.

Cousing and her daughter at Mitra's Ranch

Husband trying to be funny at Baker's Hill

 That's us. I'm not sure what are we trying to do here.

Fourth day, we did Underground River. Gateway to the cave, Sabang Beach, is about three hours driving from Puerto Princesa. Journey was challenging because of the 'zig-zag' road. Both young travelers vomited in the air conditioned van. LOL.

Setting up the camera upon arriving Sabang Beach.

The shadows.

Arriving Underground River

Starting our journey into the cave.

Thats the tiny entrance into the cave. Didn't take many pictures because I was struggling with the balancing. Very small paddle.

The beach to Underground River

We paid PHP1500 per pax (only children below 4 y/o charged half price) for the one-day Underground River trip inclusive of buffet lunch, boat transfers, licensed tour guide, van and entrance fees. Get ready for another PHP40 for the environmental fees, which is not included in your package.

Overall, I enjoyed the trip but there are so many things need to be improved. The operators in the Underground River doesn't have small size life jacket for children, luckily we always experience this and we brought our own jacket from Malaysia.

The activities are boring. You go inside the car, they drive you to the beach, boat transfer to the entrance of the cave, go inside the cave for 45 minutes, out from cave, lunch and after that go back. I am sure there are many other things they can include in the one-day trip.

The fifth day was the most exciting. We paid PHP1,300 per pax  for Honday Bay island hopping. We covered two islands and a snorkeling centre. The kids were having fun and I really enjoyed myself paddling, kayaking, eating grilled seafood and of course, sun bathing.
Paddling at Snake Island

Husband and lil bro kayaking

Niece and her mother catch and realese the star fish

I'm enjoying the sun

Husband and lil bro with their snorkel gears

MOm, me and lil bro at the second island. Can't recall the name

Yummylicious lunch!

Last stop, Pambato Reef Snorkeling

Heading home with sunburn and happiness

Our last day at the sixth day in Puerto Princesa, we want for a shopping. We bought so many little-little things like fridge magnets, earrings, bangles, accessories, some postcards, t-shirts and souvenirs for family and friends. 

 Accessories for souvenir

Seventh day, we flew to Clark and stayed at Devera Hotel. Very new hotel recommended by mom's friend. Devera Hotel is a walking distance to SM Shopping Mall. We finished our last PHP money there. In case you are planning to go to the Philippines anytime soon, please keep around PHP500 per pax for the airport tax.

Me and cousin spending pur last Pesos at SM Shopping Mall with niece, El Rose on her ride.

I must say the vacation was a great start for us as a married couple. Looking at El Rose brought us to another conversation about having babies etc etc. It closer our relationship, especially after the stressful starting about two weeks before the wedding.

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