I have been DIY-ing all my trips so far and this is the first time that I have availed the services of an organized travel and tours company. The only thing that I had to do was to agree on the package and deposit the down payment and everything else were left to Ms. Mila and her crew.
While doing all the planning, I was swayed by some of my friends to just DIY this trip again. But I digressed. You know I could be stubborn sometimes. Haha! Anyway, I was able to convince my travel buddies to just avail of the tour package as I was avoiding the hassle of being responsible for the enjoyment of seven other vacationing souls. As soon as I got their go signal, I immediately contacted Ms. Mila of Blue Lagoon Adventure Travel & Tours to seal the deal. I was asked to deposit a certain amount of the total payable through bank transfer two weeks before our scheduled arrival in Coron. We paid Php3500 each (total Php28000 for 8 pax).
The package rate includes roundtrip airport transfers. This is a very convenient option as the hotel (Princess of Coron Austrian Resort and Lodging House) we stayed at was about 30 minutes away. It also includes two big rooms (4 pax per room), 2 dinner, 2 breakfast, 1 lunch and 1 snack as well as bottled water while island hopping. The payment covered all entrance fees to all places we visited as well as well as payment for the trained tour guide.
Day 1 Dinner: crabs, grape seaweed salad, fried fish, rice, banana
Day 2 Breakfast: coffee, danggit, fried rice, sunny side-up eggs
Day 2 Lunch: grilled squid, grilled unicorn fish, grilled eggplant salad, rice, ripe mango
Day 2 Dinner: calamares, tuna tempura, pork sinigang, rice
Da 3 Breakfast: coffee, luncheon meat, salted egg salad, fried rice
For our trip, we opted not to go to the baywalk anymore instead we decided to go directly to Mt. Tapyas and then Maquinit Hot Spring. On the second day, we went to Siete Pecados Marine Park, Kayangan Lake, Banol Beach and Twin Lagoons. That was too much for a day I think. I wish we had more time to spare.
At the end of the travel, all of us were very pleased and happy with the service provided by our tour guide Ryan and Ms. Mila. She even entertained us with her talk after we had dinner at the Palayok Restaurant. If we ever will go back to Coron, we will for sure avail of the services of Blue Lagoon Adventure Travel & Tours again.
If you want to avail of their topnotch service, here are the contact details:
Blue Lagoon Adventure Travel & Tours
Ms. Milagros Gamboa
Bgy Tagumpay, Coron, Busuanga, Palawan
09178581799 or 09216721865
For the last leg of our island hopping, I will let the pictures speak for itself. I am just out of words and still in awe right now...
These pictures do not provide any justice as to how beautiful and breathtaking this place is. You have to book a flight, schedule a tour and visit Coron for yourself to appreciate the blessings that were showered to Coron. It was truly stunning!
This will definitely not be my last trip to the island. I will surely come back to repeat the exhilarating adventure and experience other things I have missed. My list is growing...
Next Post: My Coron Itinerary and Detailed Expenses
After staying and swimming to our hearts content in Kayangan Lake, our group transferred to Banol Beach. Banol Beach is just one of the many white sand beaches you can find on the island. It is a small, cozy beach with a few huts being rented out by the locals. Good thing our tour organizer reserved a hut for us already. I'm not sure how much the rent was if you will just go straight to the place. There were a few shaded areas to sit and eat if you don't get a hut of your own though.
The waves were not strong, the waters blue and green depending on the depth and the beach is just around 500 meters. The beach was beautiful, very peaceful, serene and unassuming. The fine sand invited me to take off my flip flops and just enjoy the warmth and feel it gave the soles of my foot. The backdrop of the short stretch of sand were amazing limestone rocky mountains. The formations were something only nature can do. It was breathtaking.
While Ryan and the young boys who served as our tour guides prepared our lunch (grilled squid, grilled unicorn fish, grilled eggplant with tomato and onion, rice and ripe mango), we decided to take a dip and enjoy the cool water. We were told to be careful not to step on any sea urchin if we see any and not to wander on the edge near the rock formation as some jelly fish might sting us. Ryan took it upon himself to go and check the water so no accidents will happen. How thoughtful! When lunch was ready, we all ate together and enjoyed great food and conversations. Food was sumptuous and undeniably delish. Oh, what fresh seafood can do to your palate!
After lunch, we all ran to the waters to swim some more. We left the beach with a heavy heart but full of anticipation as we prepared to go to the Twin Lagoon.
Next Post: Blue Lagoon Travel and Tours
Siete Pecados Marine Park
Our next stop during our Coron Island-hopping tour was the Siete Pecados Marine Sanctuary – a group of seven islets and home to a diverse and rich coral garden underneath the clear blue and green waters. According to the local folklore, Siete Pecados (Seven Sins) is the punishment of the seven sisters who went swimming against their parent’s will. They drowned and eventually seven islets mysteriously sprouted from the sea. Stories like that brings me back to my younger years.
There appeared to be plenty of life on an extensive coral reef in very good condition. It was very close to the Coron port, only about 10 minutes boat ride. The seabed is riddled with sea urchin so when you go there, you have to be very very careful not to walk on the seabed barefoot. The marine ecosystem was better than what I saw in my snorkeling trips in Boracay, Cebu and Puerto Galera.
RULES: No Poaching, No Anchoring and No use of Tikin (long pole used in pushing a boat forward)
Before we jumped off our boat, we had our breakfast of sunny side up eggs, fried rice and danggit and of course coffee. Note that in this series of posts all food mentioned are part of the Php3500 tour fee we paid for. I will write a separate post detailing the tour coverage so watch out for it. The food was enough to give us energy to swim with the fishes so to speak.
Karen's underwater camera was definitely a blessing. We enjoyed our sweet time swimming and feeding the fishes for about 30 minutes then we set sail going to our next destination.
Our second destination for the day was Kayangan Lake. It was voted as the cleanest lake in the Philippines. The water is brackish (water that has more salinity than fresh water, but not as much as seawater). I read that the lake is 70% fresh water and 30% sea water (I'm not sure if this information is correct though). We hiked up and down a hill with stones as steps before we reached the beauty of the lake. I was literally in awe at how beautiful the place was. I was slowly but surely falling in love with Coron as the minutes passed by and Kayangan Lake made me fall in love fast. It was like a scene in a movie (maybe Blue Lagoon). It was well-preserved, truly scenic, very picturesque.
The lake was surrounded by steep limestone cliffs and lush greenery. The underwater rock formations have jagged edges too so we were all reminded to be extra careful if we didn't want to hurt ourselves. The trek was doubly hard as it rained the night before so the stone steps were slippery and the trail was a bit tricky and dangerous in some spots. The mixture of salt and fresh water was very relieving to the body and well worth the effort to get there.
And oh, apart from ample sunscreen protection, make it a point to bring mosquito repellent (lotion or spray) to ward off mosquitoes. There were lots of mosquitoes hovering around as we trek so it was good that we all had protection.
All the effort exerted in the hike to reach the lake was all worth it. I could not wait to go back.
Next Post: Banol Beach and Twin Lagoon
Our flight arrived 27 minutes ahead of schedule and as soon as we got out of the arrival area of the teeny tiny airport of Busuanga (Francisco B. Reyes Airport), I saw our tour guide waiting and holding a piece of paper with my name legibly printed. He then introduced himself as Ryan as he ushered us to the waiting car to go to our hotel.
Princess of Coron Austrian Resort and Lodging House
We arrived at our hotel and Ryan gave us time to acclimate and freshen up. Two rooms were reserved for our group. We decided that the girls will be staying at the 3rd floor and the boys will be occupying the room that's near the pool. We were impressed with the interior design of the room especially the bathroom. Maybe we didn't really have very high expectations so any little thing that surprised us, amazed us too to say the least. I wish we were provided two pillows each though but I controlled any prima donna streak I have in me. Good thing I brought along my Spongebob plush toy (it served as extra pillow).
Mt. Tapyas Climb
We were scheduled to climb the 720+ steps of Mt. Tapyas. The mountain stands 210 meters while its cross is more than 2,000 feet above sea level. We hoped for sunset but we were unlucky because Coron had overcast skies. It kind of served as a blessing in disguise because the climb was not that difficult. The fresh breeze was a bonus too.
The trail to the summit was safe and comfortable enough since it was paved and concrete but the steps were a little wet because of the rain so we made sure to be extra careful. Also, there were hand rails along the trail to help pull ourselves up the mountain and there were plenty of shaded area scattered along the trail where tourists may stop and take a rest (take pictures too). Ryan, our tour guide, gamely answered all our questions. The young girl who sells water and Gatorade and climbed with us to the top told us that the mountain has manganese mixed with the soil which is the main reason why there weren't tall trees growing on the side.
Maquinit Hot Spring
After enjoying the amazing view from Mt. Tapyas and after countless jump shots, we left the place at around 6PM and trekked back to the foot of Mt. Tapyas. We then headed towards the Maquinit Hot Springs. It is the only known saltwater hot spring in the Philippines and probably the only one in Asia. The hot spring is just about 25 minutes from the town center and is perfectly located between a hill and the blue sea whose shores are lined with mangrove trees. Karen, Jigs, Lai and Rodney decided to stay outside and feast on balut and quail eggs while Ate Nori, Jeff, Christian and I headed to the hot spring pools. It was therapeutic!
The water actually comes from a volcano located underground and its temperature is about 40 degrees Celsius. We stayed in the water for about 30 minutes and then we had dinner. We had crabs, fried fish and grape seaweed salad. I'm not a huge fan of crabs but I enjoyed our dinner. We all tried to eat using our hands. It was a lot of fun. After dinner, we decided to dip in the hot spring again for 10 minutes before we decided to go home and rest to recover some energy for the next day.
When we reached out hotel, we all agreed to swim in the pool. Ah, the energy of the young... endless, bottomless, infinite!
Next Post: Siete Pecados Marine Park and Kayangan Lake
NOTE: This is the first of the series of posts about my first ever trip to Coron, Palawan.
I am currently nursing a bad case of body aches and pains. My overused leg muscles (walking/trekking/swimming) still feel sore to the touch and the calf muscles feel hard and it took me a lot of effort to haul my luggage from the first to the second floor of my apartment. On second thoughts, my trip was all worth it. Truly, time is so fast when you are enjoying especially so when you are having the time of your life with friends. This trip is a welcome respite to the seemingly unending tasks hurled to me at work. Even then, indulging one's self in travels and good food is not something that would make me feel guilty and this aching legs just needs some rest and it'll be out and about in a burst of wanderlust yet again.
|The workssheet I maintained to keep track of our payments for the tour fee which was Php3500 each including all meals, all tours, airport transfers, tour guide fee and of course accommodation. How budget-friendly was that?|
This trip all started when while browsing airline pages I saw a good deal that I could not pass up from the Airphil Express website. It was a trip from Manila-Busuanga-Manila at only Php1581 inclusive of tax and other surcharges. It was still more expensive than the piso fares plus tax from another airline but I saved myself from the hassle of trying to book online only to find out that the slot has been taken away by someone with a faster internet connection so I settled. I then asked some co-workers to join me in my super late summer vacation. Karen and Lai agreed and decided to bring their boyfriends, Jigs and Rodney (they both paid Php3200 RT fare). Jeff and Nori, one of our office workforce management analysts decided to join too as well as Jerin. Jerin, unfortunately was not able to join because he had a medical situation to attend to. His slot was taken by our Danish friend, Christian (paid Php5000 RT fare). The shy Dane decided to spend the last three days of his Philippine vacation with a bunch of rowdy and fun Filipinos who all work in a call center. What a contrast!
|Our flight itinerary. Yeah, I fly economy class too... I'm not high maintenance after all.|
Days before the scheduled trip, I browsed weather websites and learned that there will be scattered thunderstorms and rains in Coron during the entire three days that we will be there. I was heartbroken but still hoped that the weather will not dampen our travel.
|The weather forecast... Fail!|
Anyway, we all decided to meet up at the NAIA Terminal 3. Upon check-in, we experienced a little delay because Rodney forgot to bring his ID but I was able to charm the lady at the counter and she decided to just accept the ATM card bearing his name. I know she did a little violation against her duties and so we thanked her profusely that she didn't refuse the entry of one of our travel buddies. It could have been an early disappointment. We then went to the boarding area and settled inside the bus that would take us to our plane where we were advised that Busuanga is experiencing a bad weather condition with zero visibility. We alighted from the bus and waited in the boarding area again as our Bombardier Aerospace turboprop aircraft waited for the final clearance from the tower. After a short five-minute wait, we were advised that Palawan skies is now safe for travel. Our prayers were heard and we couldn't be more excited.
Our flight was fast and we arrived in Busuanga 27 minutes ahead of schedule despite the occasional turbulence up in the air. I was surprised at how simple and old school the airport was (no conveyor belt to say the least for baggages) but who am I to complain? After all, I am not going to stay long inside the airport. Our tour guide was already outside waiting for us. I will be posting an article about Ryan, our guide, and the travel and tours company he works for which is managed by Ms. Mila Gamboa. It is an understatement to say that their service was amazing and we were all impressed.
Next Post: Princess of Coron Austrian Resort, Mt. Tapyas Hike and Maquinit Hot Spring
Lift The Veil! and get ready to kiss the bride...
I am not used to seeing my nails painted light like this but I kinda like it.
I am not used to seeing my nails painted light like this but I kinda like it.
If you choose the title of this post as a title for one of your creatively written poems, you are a creature of overwhelming passion. F. Sionil Jose, national artist for literature, is that person. He is one of the most widely-read Filipino writers in the English language. His works gracefully exude the social issue of class conflicts and colonialism in the Filipino society. He founded the Philippine branch of PEN , an international organization for writers.
His famous work is a five-novel series called "The Rosales Saga" which painted a picture of the Philippines by covering three centuries of its history. This compelling saga was translated into twenty-two languages. He was hailed as Philippine National Artist for Literature in 2001.
Freeway featured some of his well known works as interpreted in a pocket collection which includes staple favorites graphic tees in trendy silhouettes, modern tailored woven tops and dresses and accessories. The brand is very much excited to feature its first living National Artist. I've been witness to the first four featured national artists but the event more than a month ago was the first one I went to where the artist featured is still alive. It's like he jumped out of one of his books still holding a pen ready to write as soon as he acknowledges an inspiration.
|I spotted this dress at the event and I know I have to have it! :-)|
And oh, last month Freeway asked Facebook fans to choose their favorite item in the collection. I chose Aphrodisiac's and Affairs, a woven sweetheart neckline dress in colorblock print. I posted the picture of the dress and these words: "I want this Freeway Online x F. Sionil Jose dress/shirt/top because this masterpiece will be a perfect addition to my wardrobe. I will be walking like a page straight out of of F. Sionil Jose's book of poetry. The dress is a noir canvas of the poetic genius of Aphrodisiac's and Affairs by the National Artist for Literature. I particularly like the words written over this woven sweetheart neckline dress in colorblock print, it touches one's feelings and evokes a myriad of emotions."
And I won it!!!