The Palawan Diary

We went to Palawan primarily to enjoy my El Nido Resorts prize. The prize has a 6-month validity and I chose October because I already have plans for November while December and January are monsoon months in Northern Mindanao.  The prize did not included airfare so I was on the lookout for promo fare.  The ITI flight from Manila to Taytay was out of the question. The alternative was fly to Puerto Princesa.

I took the Butuan-Cebu-Puerto Princesa route:

We arrived at Puerto Princesa around 12 noon and we were able to settle to our home for the night at around 1pm. One can go around Puerto Princesa by hailing a tricycle. We hopped to the nearest Jollibee but changed our minds and went to Chowking across the street. We missed Chowking because the branch in Butuan closed down.

We had orange chicken lauriat and chinese sausage chow pao.

We had an afternoon to spare because we were scheduled to go to Taytay town the following day. I have done a little research so I already know that tourists can hire a tricycle for a day tour around Puerto Princesa  for  P600 per tricycle.  We did not arrange this tour beforehand so we just went by gut feel. A tricycle passed by and the driver sounded nice so we decided to hire him. We learned that tricycle drivers in Palawan are also trained as tour guides. They know where to bring tourists for day tours. Our tricycle driver was Reygen. (You may call him at 0999-5667658) He brought us to the Crocodile Farm, Mitra’s Ranch, Baker’s Hill, Butterfly Garden, Binuhatan crafts and Immaculate Conception Church.  In transit, he would share anecdotes and information about our destination.

These are the photos from our half-day city tour.


We asked that we be dropped at Robinson’s for our dinner. Reygen offered to wait for us so he could bring us to back to the pension house. We declined even if it was part of the tour fee so he could go home. It was a long afternoon for us. We like Reygen. He is a nice young man so we decided to hire him to fetch us from our pension house and bring us to San Jose Terminal for our van to Taytay early in the morning the next day.

I have already reserved van seats with Lexus transport. We took the 7am van ride from Puerto Princesa to Taytay.

At the agreed time, Reygen was already waiting for us outside our pension house. Four hours later, we reached Taytay.

Taytay has this hollywood-ish sign.

Taytay is a port town where Apulit guests are fetched. Several other boats were docked at the port.

Its main attraction is Fuerza de Sta. Isabel, a fort, which we were able to visit after spending 4 nights and 3 day in Apulit Island.

After roaming around this area, we were ready to go back to Puerto Princesa. We made reservations through Lexus. We also called Reygen to fetch us up in the terminal when we arrive. He was already waiting for when we arrived at the terminal.

I love Palawan. I will be back for Honda bay, the fireflies, Iwahig, the underground river, Coron, Calauit and El Nido.  I don’t know when. I hope soon. 😀

10/23/2012: My friend reminded me about San Vicente, Palawan.  How can I forget?

Source: google.com via kat on Pinterest

10 Things I Love About the Buffet Meals at Apulit Island Resort

My friends on Facebook are often bombarded with my food photos. It is a good thing they have not blocked me yet. Haha! No, I do not have Instagram. (Do I hear cheers?) I have not yet littered spammed graced the world with food photos. Well, not until now. This post is all about the food we ate at El Nido Resorts’ Apulit Island Resort.

Apulit Island Resorts’ rate include buffet meals. I got a 4 days- 3 nights prize so I counted 9 buffet meals. (This is how I applied my math degree. Pretty handy, eh? hehe! 🙂 ) We were scheduled to be fetched at the Taytay port at 2pm. So, we ate lunch at this nice restaurant near the port. This is also where we were asked to wait for the boat when I called the resort two days prior to our arrival.

We had squid for lunch, by the way. For its P50 price, our tummy was filled.  Plus, we ordered crab and corn soup which I forgot to take a photo.

In the middle of our lunch, Aris, our guide for that trip already approached us.  Their boat was already docked hours before because they brought some guests back to Taytay earlier. Remember that I counted 9 buffet meals? We arrived in the resort at around 1pm and the buffet lunch was still served. I figured we were not entitled to this lunch. However, one staff cheerfully invited us to lunch.  We told him we had lunch already. He further convinced us, “There are desserts.  Besides, lunch is free.”  We gladly welcomed the idea.  This was my simple lunch plate.

Instead of documenting every plate we had, I will only show my favorite dishes.  Again, if we put to good use my math degree and count plates, we will get: 2 people x 9 meals x 3 plates per meal (at least) + 2 plate for that extra lunch=56 photos! And I did not even count the number of  angles I shot. Ha!

I’d be lying if I say that all the food in Apulit is delicious. There were some dishes that I did not like. Eggplant lasagna for one because I do not like eggplant. hehe! The pasta dishes are not “filipinized” (meaning, not a lot of meat, sauce and cheese) so they did not tickle my “uncultured” palate.  😉

Here are the ten things I love about the buffet meals in El Nido Resorts’ Apulit Island Resort:

1. The salad bar.

I do not eat vegetables a lot but I like lettuce, cucumber and carrots in salads so I ate those with every meal in the island. I switched between two dressings: thousand island and calamansi.  I topped the salad with lots of parmesan cheese. 😀

There were prepared salads. They offered different choices every meal.

My aunt even noticed that she had better bowel movement digestion process while on vacation.

2. Bread station. A toaster was placed beside the different breads so we had the option to heat our bread.

During breakfast, there were 4 types of marmalade to choose from.

I only tried the mango marmalade. Where was my adventurous spirit? My friend pointed that out when she viewed my photos on Facebook.  I must remember that next time. I guess I feared not leaving with empty plates. I got used to Filipino “eat-all-you-can” places where you get fined when you have unfinished food.  😀

We have not tried all the different breads though.  We wanted to leave space for the main course. 😀

3. Breakfast is love. I love their breakfast because it was where I got to eat my favorite dishes: tocino, bacon, pancakes, spanish sardines, salted egg, longganisa.  Yumyum.

There were cereals, too! I mixed cornflakes, muesli, banana clusters and dried mango in this one. <3

4. Dessert station. Guests from other countries trooped to the fruit selections: watermelon, mango, pineapple, papaya and melon. I am proud of our Philippine mango. I don’t know how many times the resort replenished their mango platter. Mangoes are crowd pleasers.  I also saw guests enjoying the self-service halo-halo station. I chose only ube and nata de coco (I don’t like beans) for my halo-halo and topped it with mango.  I  took a slice from mango plate and scooped out the flesh. 😀

There were other desserts like cakes, cookies and tarts which I gladly tried. They were not as memorable as the desserts I tried in other bakeshops in the country but they were enough to add sweetness to my meals.

5. The grill station. We got grilled sausages, pork, fish, beef and shrimps. We just pointed what meat we want and asked the cook to grill for us. We did not even have to wait for it to be grilled. We went to our table and the waiter brought the dish to us.

6. The open space.  I love that restaurant area is large and allows guests a panoramic view of the place.  It also showcases ingenious Filipino architecture: straw roofing and ample ventilation.

It is clear that I focused on eating and food photos because I have no photo of what the restaurant area looks like.  Anyway, it is built like their bar and game area.

7. The view from the restaurant area is spectacular. We often sit where there is no distraction from seeing the beautiful landscape.  It is pretty when the sun is up and even when it is raining.

8. The staff is wonderful. I already wrote in the previous post that our water goblets are refilled before we even realize we need them refilled.  The moment we set foot on the restaurant we were ushered to our favorite seats without us telling them. They pulled our chair and help us carry our plates (yes, plural).  They removed our plate once we are done leaving no proof of our bottomless appetite. 😀

Look! No proof that we have eaten… a lot!

9. Chit-chatting. We paced our food intake. We spent around an hour eating our meals. In between bites we talk about how beautiful the island is and how exciting the different activities for the day.

10. Entertainment. During our last dinner in the resort, we were lucky to be entertained by talented Apulit staff. Music was a mix of popular OPM music and mainstream American music.

Sorry for my blurry photos:

We really enjoyed Apulit’s buffet meals.

Please don’t judge me by what I ate. HA!

 

10 Reasons Why I Love My El Nido Resorts Holiday

I finally got to stay at El Nido Resorts’ Apulit Island Resort.  I still can’t believe I won that lovely vacation. Oh, my aunt and I still talk about our vacation. The people in house constantly hear us say, “El Nido this” and “Apulit that”. My aunt’s friend in Canada is now asking about the resort rates and inclusions. I already sound like an ad for the resort.

In my contest entry, I expressed my shame in visiting only 4 of the 7,100+ islands in the Philippines. With the trip to Apulit Island Resort, I have now proudly gone to a total 7 islands!  I know I still have to visit more but I am already happy with this small accomplishment. 😀

Let me just say that the Apulit vacation exceeded my expectations. These are the reasons why I love El Nido Resorts.

1.  I wanted to feel the sand on my feet, wind on my hair and water on my face. I got everything and more.  I learned to snorkel!  The Philippines is rich in marine biodiversity and I never got to appreciate it until I went to Apulit.  Even if I was not a swimmer (much more a diver!), I was able experience being around colorful marine life.  It is so beautiful  seeing corals and schools of fish first hand. I wish I had an underwater camera with me. So far these are the photos my snorkeling experience in Isla Blanca.


The Apulit boat waits for us as we snorkel. 

This is the beautiful sand on Isla Blanca. Don’t mind my ugly feet. HA!

2. The Apulit Island itself is beautiful. I can stare at the sight all afternoon from my balcony. When I went there, the sea was rough during the afternoon so I just lounged at the balcony. I often found myself mesmerized by the view.

3. There are several activities arranged by the resort staff.  If not for the bad weather, we could have experienced a picnic at the beach, more snorkeling at different reefs and windsurfing. Despite the bad weather, we still had our hands (feet and body, too) full.

This is the activity board which you can view activities for the day. The resort staff makes sure that you get to enjoy each activity. Actually, you do not even have to sign up for it. The resort staff already planned certain activities for you before you even thought about them. A guide will be with you in every activity.


The resort has wonderful guides who encourage you to try every activity. My aunt never expected to enjoy cave exploration but she did because our guide, Vlad, kept the activity interesting with interesting information.


We snorkeled at Apulit’s west beach. I found nemo here!


We weren’t able to go snorkeling at two different reefs because of the bad weather. They arranged a coconut hat making demo for us. I hope I remembered the steps on how make these hats. My aunt made her hat through the guidance of Chito.


Elmer made my hat and he added a bird on it! Cute!


We went kayaking around the island at 5:30 am to see the sunrise. Three guides had to wake up early to accompany us. We got three guides because we have a new Chinese friend who ‘kayaked’ with us.  Yes, a personalized service. Impressive!


We swam in their infinity pool.


4. The little things matter. We got good night messages on a leaf every single night along with heartwarming El Nido stories.


El Nido resorts support local farmers and weavers.

We got a welcome song and welcome snacks  where we arrived on the island.


Even as we leave, the resort manager and staff bid us goodbye.


5. The resort is a green resort. They make extra effort to take care of the environment.

Every room is provided with an eco-bag which guests are encouraged to bring around to avoid leaving trash while doing all the activities.  Guests are also encouraged to pick up trash they find around the island.


The resort has its own water treatment plant.

6. Each member of the resort staff is friendly. They never fail to greet us with their warm smiles and hellos whenever we meet them in the pathways. We did not even have to call on the waiter. Our plates are cleared as soon we are done eating each course. Our water goblets are refilled with water even before they ran out of water. They really anticipate our needs. The resort staff are multi-talented. They can weave baskets, kayak, teach snorkeling and share a lot of information about the island features.  They can identify birds, plants and marine animals.  They can even sing a few songs. Thanks to Aris, Angel, Roslyn, Arjun, Clark, Vlad, Chito, Elmer and their resort manager, Franck.  There are other resort staff and I may have forgotten their names.  I am truly proud to be a Filipino because of them. What a hardworking team!

7. I love my El Nido photos. I only own a 3MP point-and-shoot Canon camera. I still get beautiful photographs. It is not about my skills. The island is so beautiful that even with a phone camera with low resolution, I think you can still have beautiful photos.

8. I got my own Apulit post card. No, I did not buy this one. I took this photo while on the boat as we left the island.

9. This place is an ideal honeymoon destination and proposal place. On our last night on the island, a private dinner was arranged in one of the huts in the beach. Somebody proposed to his girlfriend. We got fireworks that night. It was a sign that she said yes!

That said, single girls can also have fun on the island. I met a new Chinese friend, Mia, who traveled alone to spend her holidays here. We had fun talking to her and arranging our activities together.  (Hi, Mia, if you are reading this!)

10. This vacation is truly a blessing. I feel that everyone deserves this kind of vacation. It inspires me to work harder to be able to afford an El Nido Resorts vacation.

Source: Uploaded by user via kat on Pinterest

 

Good to know Do you know that you can book your El Nido Resorts vacation through Agoda?  Agoda has a rewards program for their members. Every time you book your hotel through their site, you’ll earn points which you may use for your next vacation.