We landed in Palawan with no plan, at all. No where to stay, nothing. We got on the first trike we came across and just asked them to take us to the city and decided we would just find somewhere. And it surprisingly worked out amazingly well. We went through the city centre bit of Puerto Princesa and then walked around until we found a hostel, The Corazon Tourist Inn...we asked them about prices for the 4 of us and found it was super cheap, they gave us a special deal, so we thought why not, we'll stay one night and then make a real plan. Then as we went into the lobby area we spied on the coffee table a ton of WT and Awake! magazines, in loads of different languages. So we were feeling pretty good about staying there. Then my excitement become even more so when we got to our room which was equipped with two bunk beds! Yay! Like I was right back at home!
I'm not sure why but I was feeling particularly adventurous in the Philippines (the place brings out the adventurer in me.) and the very first meal I had there, I just picked any old thing off the menu at a traditional Filipino restaurant. I had no idea what it was until my friend googled what was in it. I tried Sisig...it's mainly pork, but has pork belly, ears and potentially innards of some sort. Nonetheless, it tasted good. My friend ordered crocodile sisig, which I tried. My word, it was delicious! Who knew crocodile would taste soooooo good! And no meal is complete in the Philippines without a mango shake. Mmmmmmm!
After an afternoon nap, we decided to explore our surroundings. We just went to the nearest convenience store...as we went in, up ahead of me I see Dairy Milk chocolate! It doesn't exist in Taiwan so I was super impressed that the Philippines, only an hour or so away from TW actually has it! I don't know why but the Philippines are way ahead of the game when it comes to their imported foods, they give you tons of stuff to choose from. It was also exciting to see a little traditional bakery. Being in the Philippines it is so easy to forget you are in Asia. From the first day in the Philippines I knew this was a place I would want to explore a lot more, and that 10 days just wouldn't be enough!
As we walked down the street we were greeted and graced with hundreds of smiles and hello's. The friendliness of the Pinoy's really bowled me over. Kids wave, smile and say "Hello friend", anyone walking past you does the Pinoy eyebrow raise to say hello. And the Pinoy's have such beautiful smiles! Seriously! Beautiful!
The Philippines is a Christian country, and I must say after spending time in a Buddhist country it was so refreshing to be back in a Christian country. I know all Christian denominations have their own thing going on, but it really makes me feel more at home being in a Christian country. I don't know why it makes such a big difference to me, but it just feels totally different being in a Buddhist country compared to being in a Christian country.
And oh how wonderful it feels to be understood! The official language of the Philippines is Tagalog but the great majority of people can speak English. And Tagalog has a lot of words stolen from Spanish, so it's possible to hazard a guess at what signs may mean. But most things are in English anyway, all the menus and everything where in English. The only reason I had for not understanding a menu was for Filipino dishes that have Tagalog names.
One thing that was evident from day one in Palawan was that the cockrels do not know how to tell time. They cockle doodle doo all day and all night long. Cock fighting is a big thing in the Philippines, a real big part of their culture. There are cockrels on all the streets, just running around. And there are lot of stray cats around too, but not too many stray dogs. And when I say they are stray cats, there are generally a few Pinoy's feeding them anyway.
Being near the sea again I noticed immediately the fresh air! Yes there are still motorbikes, cars and trikes giving off fumes but the air to me feels much fresher and cleaner when near the sea!
|the first trike ride in Palawan through the streets of Puerto Princesa|
|first impressions got off to a good start at the hostel|