07.05.2011 – FROM PALAWAN TO LUZON

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THE NEXT MORNING WE GOT UP, PACKED OUR LUGGAGE, VACATED OUR “ROOMS” AND HAVE HAD OUR LAST BREAKFAST IN PALAWAN. WE WERE SERVED A SELECTION OF FRESH VEGETABLES AND GRILLED SEA CREATURES… THE MOST POPULAR WERE THE CALAMARIES…

IT TOOK ABOUT 2.5 HOURS TO REACH THE AIRPORT. WE ARRIVED BACK TO CIVILISATION IN PUERTO PRINCESA SO IT WAS A  CHANCE TO GET SOME CASH FROM THE ATM. WE BUYING A FEW FRESH FRUIT, AMONG THEM FRESH MANGOES – PURE DELIGHT!

 

BREAKFAST – LARGE AMOUNT OF FRESH VEGETABLES AND GRILLED SEA CREATURE

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WE WERE AGAIN NOT ALLOWED TO ENTER THE PUERTO PRINCESA AIRPORT  BEFORE OUR LUGGAGE WAS CHECKED, JUST AS IN MANILA, NOT EVEN WITH TICKETS. THE WAITING ROOM WAS OK. THERE ARE LOTS OF STALLS SELLING GIFTS AND DRINKS. THE DEPARTURE ROOM ALSO HAS A FEW STALLS BUT THE PRODUCT SELECTION WAS NOT AS GOOD. THERE WERE THE FAMOUS FILIPINO PEARLS* FOR SALE AND YOU COULD EVEN GET A RELAXING MASSAGE …

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PUERTO PRINCESA AIRPORT

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* IN 1934 A FILIPINO PEARL DIVER FOUND A GIGANTIC – WEIGHING 6,4 KG PEARL NEAR THE ISLAND OF PALAWAN. THE PEARL WAS NAMED ALLAH PEARL BECAUSE THE DIVER WAS A MUSLIM. IT WAS LATER RENAMED LAO – TZE (LAO-CY, LAOZI). IN 1936 THE PALAWAN ISLAND GOVERNOR GAVE IT TO CERTAIN WILBUR COBB FOR SAVING HIS SON’S LIFE. THE PEARL REMAINED A PROPERTY OF THE COBB FAMILY UNTIL 1980, WHEN IT WAS SOLD TO A BEVERLEY HILL JEWELLER FOR US$ 200 000. IT’S VALUE HAS SINCE GROWN AND IN 1999 IT WAS PUT ON AUCTION FOR US 40 ml …

OUR FLIGHT DEPART ON TIME AND WE WERE TRAVELLING IN A MUCH BIGGER PLANE. BEAUTIFUL SUNSET VISIBLE FROM THE PLANE… WE HAVE LANDED IN MANILA AROUND 6:40 PM. THEN WE HAD TO RUSH TO A CAR RENTAL PLACE …

OUR PLAN IS TO HIRE A FOUR WHEEL DRIVE VEHICLE, THEN DRIVE ON THE HIGHWAY TO BANAUE. OVER THERE WE WOULD VISIT THE RICE TERRACES AND STAY OVERNIGHT. AFTER THAT WE WOULD MOVE ON TO BANTOK WHERE SIMILAR TERRACES COULD BE SEEN. THE NEXT STOP WOULD BE SAGADA WHERE THE FAMOUS ROCKS WITH HANGING COFFINS ARE THE ATTRACTION …

AFTER VISITING ALL THE ATTRACTIONS, WE WOULD RETURN, STOPPING SOMEWHERE FOR THE NIGHT. I HAVE TO ADD THAT FOR YEARS I HAVE BEEN WORKING IN TRANSPORT, I LIKE TO DRIVE AND I HAVE BEEN DRIVING CARS IN SEVERAL COUNTRIES, INCLUDING A FEW YEARS IN ROME, AUSTRALIA, INDONESIA. I WAS KEEN TO TAKE A CAR FOR A DRIVE HERE AS WELL …

WE HAVE APPROACHED A RENTAL CAR OFFICE … IT LOOKS LIKE THERE ARE A FEW AGENCIES – I HAVE CHECKED THAT EARLIER ON ON INTERNET. WE HAVE ENQUIRED ABOUT A CAR WE PLANNED TO HIRE AND … WE WERE TOLD THE ONLY AVAILABLE VEHICLE WAS A FORD WITH 1.4 LITER ENGINE. CONFUSION. I INSISTED THAT WE  NEEDED A FOUR WHEEL DRIVE VEHICLE. SOMEONE SAYS THAT WE COULD GET ONE, BUT ONLY TOMORROW AT AROUND MIDDAY. WE HAVEN’T ACCEPTED THE OFFER. WE KNEW FROM SEARCHING INTERNET THAT THE ROUTE WE PLAN TO COVER OVER THE NEXT THREE DAYS, WAS NOT TERRIBLY LONG, BUT FOR SOME REASON EVERYBODY WAS SAYING IT TAKES A LONG TIME TO GET THERE … WE KNEW OF COURSE ALL PRICES AND VARIOUS TYPES OF TRANSPORT WE COULD CONSIDER.

WE ARE UNDER CONSIDERABLE STRESS, AS WE KNEW THAT ALL THE CAR RENTAL OFFICES WERE CLOSING AT 7.00 PM. A QUICK DISCUSSION TOOK PLACE … WE WERE OFFERED A MINI BUS WITH A DRIVER FOR 10 000.00 P A DAY PLUS PETROL COSTS WHICH WE COULD HAVE IMMEDIATELY. I TELLING THEM THIS IS TOO DEAR AND THAT WE GOING TO FIND SOMETHING ON INTERNET. (NOTE: THERE IS A FREE WI-FI AVAILABLE IN ONE OF THE CHEAPER RESTAURANT SITUATED ABOUT 20 METERS FROM THE CAR HIRE DESK BY THE MAIN EXIT FROM THE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT). NEARLY IMMEDIATELY AFTER WE LEFT, WE WERE CALLED BACK TO THE DESK. THIS TIME WE WERE OFFERED A CAR WITH A DRIVER AT 8 000.00 P PER DAY PLUS THE FUEL COSTS. WE HAVE FOUND THAT ACCEPTABLE, BECAUSE OUR INTERNET SEARCH SHOWED THAT IT WOULD HAVE COST MORE TO HIRE A SELF DRIVE FOUR WHEEL CAR. WE HAD AGREED BUT WITH SOME TREPIDATION AS OUR OWN EXPERIENCE AND INTERNET INFORMATION HAVE MADE US WORRY. FIRST OF ALL WE HAD TO HAVE A CONTRACT.

THE CONTRACT WOULD INCLUDE INSURANCE, WITH AN ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT CLAUSE GUARANTEED THAT WE WOULD NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CAR AND THE DRIVER. ALSO A GUARANTEE THAT THE HIRE PRICE INCLUDES ALL DRIVER’S EXPENSES: HIS LABOUR, ACCOMMODATION AND FOOD.

SURPRISINGLY WE MANAGED TO GET IT ALL WITHOUT ANY PROBLEMS. ONLY TWO PROBLEMS REMAINED. WE DIDN’T AGREE TO PAY UPFRONT FOR THE CAR HIRE – OUR BOAT EXPERIENCE THOUGHT US TO BE CAREFUL. WE KEPT NEGOTIATE AND WE CAME QUICKLY TO AN AGREEMENT AFTER EXPLAINING OUR POINT OF VIEW – WE JUST HAVE TRIED TO AVOID ANY CHEATING. IN THE END WE WERE ASSURED THAT A CAR AND A DRIVER WOULD BE READY FOR US IN AN HOUR. THE DRIVER WAS SUPPOSED TO BE NOT TIRED AND FAMILIAR WITH THE ROUTE (THIS SHOULD SAVE US A LOT OF TIME – WE HAVE BEEN WARNED THAT THIS COULD BE A PROBLEM). WE ARE GOING TO ONE OF THE RESTAURANTS ON THE TOP FLOOR FOR A MEAL. NOTHING TOO EXCITING. WE HAVE RETURNED TO THE CAR HIRE OFFICE AFTER ABOUT AN HOUR – THE DRIVER HAD NOT SHOWED UP AS YET. THE TRAFFIC IS HUGE EVEN THOUGH IT IS A SATURDAY EVENING.

 

WE LEAVE PALAWAN …

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WE ARE WAITING A WHILE… AFTER THE SHORT TIME OUR DRIVER ARRIVED – HIS NAME IS BONG. WE STARTED TOWARDS THE MINIBUS, WITH SOME HELP WITH OUR LUGGAGE FROM ONE OF THE CAR HIRE GUYS. WARNING – A PROBLEM WITH FUEL CAME UP. WE HAVE ASKED TO FILL UP AT THE PETROL STATION BEFORE THE START OF THE TRIP. THEY WANTED US TO GET THE FUEL WHEN IT WAS LOW AND PAY FOR IT THEN AND AT THE END OF THE TRIP OF COURSE. WE HAVE ARGUED FOR A WHILE. WE DIDN’T WANT TO AGREE WITH THEIR PLANS, AS IT MEANT WE WOULD BE PAYING FOR FUEL USED BY SOMEONE ELSE. IN THE END WE HAVE MANAGED TO  CONVINCE THEM EXPLAINING THAT IT WAS A NORMAL PRACTICE IN CAR HIRE BUSINESS …

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