Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Doing Nothing in Puerto Princesa

Weeks before our trip, whenever I thought about Puerto Princesa, Palawan, I imagined it to be similar to Iloilo or Kalibo; predominantly rural but still with plenty of commercial structures and other tell-tale signs of urbanization. Puerto Princesa is, after all, a city. Then, while in the van going to the hotel, I realized that it's less developed than I thought what with some roads still in the process of being paved and the Robinsons mall still under construction. All thoughts of meeting someone there (in a bar perhaps?) seemed to have flown away with the dust cloud trailing our airport service.

So no, I didn't meet anyone in Palawan. I wasn't counting on it anyway after some "online research" prior to the trip. At first, I was quite disappointed about how there seemed nothing interesting to do in the city. Firefly watching? Nah. City tour? No time.

But it was from the lack of time and energy to do other things that I appreciated the sprawling hotel property which I really wasn't so crazy about in the beginning. I think it was more fun because of Nikki's underwater camera. Then we ordered food from the hotel restaurant and all plans of going out were forgotten. We gladly confined ourselves within the grounds of Royal Oberoi. A planned dinner elsewhere didn't materialize either because getting out of the pool and stopping the conversation proved to be too much so it was another sumptuous dinner in one of the open-air cabanas just a few steps away from our rooms.

Except for our whole-day Honda Bay and Underwater River combo tour and a very brief lunch at the lovely Badjao restaurant, we pretty much stayed in the hotel properties the rest of the time. Some may find it a waste of opportunity to explore the city but we all have different ideas of a good vacation. And at that time, I think it was what we all needed. Even I didn't realize that until it was over. The poolside breakfast, hours of talking and swimming until we were pruny, the underwater cam whoring, the hearty dinners; it was the beauty of doing almost nothing, that disconnection from the rest of the world that no tweet or status update could justify.

At the end of the day, it's good that I had wrong expectations. I was pleasantly surprised by how charming, and of course fun this trip turned out to be. Puerto Princesa's simplicity and warmth was a different experience compared to my past holidays. It's been a week since I've been back yet I can't help but mentally go back to when we were just there; no plans, no problem.


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