A full belly and aching feet in Puerto Princesa

The previous post is up here. Yes, it’s taken me this long to write about the second part of my Puerto Princesa adventures. This trip happened last July 8-9. *hangs head in shame*

We woke up at 7am because we needed to get an early start for the day’s activities. The latest we could leave Puerto Princesa was 5pm so that we’d arrive in El Nido at the somewhat reasonable hour of 11pm. Since breakfast wasn’t included in the room rate (boooo), we checked out of the inn and had breakfast in Jollibee.

Hibiscus Garden Inn’s small restaurant. Breakfast ought to be included in the room rate since there’s nowhere else nearby to eat.
All hotels should come with hammocks.

After breakfast, we headed to our Puerto office to drop off our bags and meet out shopping assistants for the day. Our first stop was the handicrafts store across our office.

Welcome to Manunga Handicrafts.

My eyes widened when the shop owners told me that the small items are made from ipil (Intsia bijuga), which is considered a protected species. They said not to worry, since it’s wood from old houses and that my boss buys handicrafts from them. After the handicrafts store came the department stores. Yep, we spent the morning shopping in Unitop Shopping Mall. Unitop was plenty popular when it opened in 2010 because it was home to Palawan’s first escalator. People came from all over not to shop, but to ride the escalator. We filled several boxes with sand toys, coloring books, crayons, and candy for the kids. Lunch was a more modest yet still delicious affair at Puerto Princesa Balinsasayaw Chicken Grill and Restaurant. We got the set menu for 6 people: soup, a platter of grilled items (tuna belly, chicken, squid, and shrimp), fruits, and rice. Contrary to our dinner the night before, this set menu left us hungry so we added stuffed squid. The food was good but took an inordinate amount of time to arrive. We had a table outside in one of the “family huts” so I had to go inside the restaurant to follow up on our order a second time.

Puerto Princesa Balinsasayaw Chicken Grill and Restaurant: good food, lousy service.

After lunch came more shopping in NCCC (New City Commercial Center) Mall. The NCCC brand is practically unheard of in Manila but it has a stranglehold on the department store and grocery business in Davao. Unitop felt like a big flea market (like 168 Mall!), while NCCC felt slightly more upscale. We bought the big floaties we couldn’t find in Unitop. (Badet had us buying all sorts of different things for the games.) We finally finished shopping at around 5pm. We had to leave some of the bigger wood carvings in the Puerto office because of space issues, especially since we picked up two more passengers for the trip home – the HR Officer from Apulit who also did shopped for Family Day items and Mark from F&B. I (half) jokingly said that we ought to leave the HR Officer behind since he wasn’t in the original passenger list 😛 Dinner was take-out from Jollibee-Robinsons. We left Puerto Princesa at 7:30pm, dropped off the HR Officer in Taytay, then arrived in El Nido at 1am. I think I was the only one who got any sleep on the ride home, since I heard people talking every time I was jarred awake by the bumpy road. The revelations after this sudden El Nido-Puerto Princesa-El Nido road trip:

  1. I can pack an overnight bag in 15 minutes and not forget anything! 😀
  2. The trip is exhausting. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re on a Coron-El Nido-Puerto Princesa route (or vice-versa). I’ve heard that bus drivers take the final kilometers of (potentially terrifying) winding road to Puerto Princesa at full speed.
  3. Surprise trips are a great way of breaking up my usual work schedule 🙂

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