April 16, 2011

Palawan - Day 2: The bloody island hopping!

The second day has come! In a sweaty fashion way! We woke up at 7AM with sweaty shirts and not in the best possible smiling way. The reason was that the electricity in Coron only runs from 6PM to 12AM because of fuel shortage, the city is powered by big generators run by Diesel fuel which is the supply around the country is in crisis.

As I get myself ready for the day's activity, I put on my earphones and play the tunes of my favorite local artists, Champ Lui Pio and Rico Blanco. I waited for my turn to have my morning glory and the morning in Palawan is quiet and people are not in a rush which makes me feel relaxed.

My "Spanish omelette" Breakfast. The serving's too small though it only reached my esophagus.  
After my small breakfast at the hotel we hailed a tricycle and went to the office of the tour guides where we signed waivers that with whatever fatal happens to us, they are not responsible except of course if the injury is caused by their negligence. The waiver also included that whatever things we borrowed are damaged, we will pay for it.

Most of us didn't care about the "accident" issues in the waiver but rather on the equipment that we will borrow because if for example I break the goggles I borrowed, my wallet's gotta give PhP1000 ($50) for it! We all took a good look at our borrowed equipment before we went out to make sure that all was in good condition. After further discussions, off we go to the port!

I placed "UNO" (the name of my first  DSLR, a Nikon D40 bought in 2008) inside a waterproof plastic DSLR case specifically made for snorkeling. I bought it online and picked it up in the seller's house for PhP500($10).

As we were walking towards the port I was approached by a Japanese tourist and asked if where we were going, it looked like to me that he was trying to hitch a ride with our boat so that he can share with a smaller amount rather than rent a boat by himself. I couldn't give a specific answer because we were going to 9 different islands! So I just said "We're going to 9 different islands today" - and to my surprise he walked away and I think he was irritated with my answer, but what other answer could I give? I don't know the names of the islands!

Moving on to our first destination: SIETE PECADOS, Siete Picados means "Seven Islands" but it was more beautiful from below, the islands are surrounded by beautiful coral reefs and all sorts of fishes are around to play with.

JP under the sea
There were lots of corals and the current that morning was strong and my goggles kept moisturizing so I had to repeat the step of spitting on the lens while I was being taken away by the waves closer to the corals.

I kept a distance between me and the tall corals because if I hit the coral it might be broken or let's say it might be instantly turned into sand because of my large butt.

As I try to fight the current I saw a hell lot of sea urchins and if it hit my legs I would be in pain but I would still be alive, it's not that deadly but it's very very irritating to the skin. As I tried to swim away my foot hit something sharp and the next thing that was on my mind was "SEA URCHIN, SEA URCHIN, SEA URCHIN!!!" I looked at my foot and it was bleeding, fishes were swimming around my bloodied foot, it wasn't a sea urchin that hit me but I hit a coral, poor coral I'm sorry! (It wasn't damaged by the way).

I went up the boat and asked for the first aid kit and I paid attention to my foot. I found out that the index finger of my right foot (2nd from the left) had small gash wounds, it was deep and the bleeding was quite bad. It was also painful every time salt water touches the wound, but that didn't stop me. As soon as I closed the wound I was ready for the next destination!

Kayangan Lake
The next destination was the reason why I fell in Love with Palawan four years ago and until now, Kayangan Lake is the most beautiful lake that I've seen in my life and I saw quite a lot of lakes so far. The lake is only accessible via hiking 75 meters up and 75 meters down but no worries because of the man made steps. The vast open space and chilling waters of the lake is relaxing, the calm waters could even make you take a nap if you just float around. The water is a mix of salt and fresh water, it's called "Brackish Water".

Submerged Limestones
Just below the waters of Kayangan lake lies giant Limestones and to my assumption, it's still growing because it is untouched and undisturbed.

After Kayangan lake we went to the third destination which was the "Coral Garden". Our boat man said that if garden is not disturbed during the day,  Pawikans (Giant Sea Turtles) come in to feed and hang around.

I got so excited and I kept telling the guys to keep quiet. We went in and saw why it was called the Coral Garden, there were so many types of corals and although my foot was in pain while submerged in salt water, I kept in mind that I can deal with the pain just to see the Pawikan. But after almost an hour of quiet snorkeling not a single shell of a turtle is around. I would have been the happiest man that hour if I ever did see one.

Here's a video footage taken by Mikki at the Coral Garden:
At the 23rd second, Mark was hit by planktons which are irritating to the skin that causes rashes.
Rock formations that makes Coron extraordinary

After my disappointment of not seeing the Pawikan, we headed to "Twin Peaks", our fourth destination. It was another snorkeling area that has twin rocks, well not really that they are twins but a lot of similarities between the two.

Not all went snorkeled at twin peaks because the corals were the same as Siete Pecados and therefore the fishes were the same and yes, we were right and our tummies were growling like sea lions already so we headed to the island where we would have our packed lunch for the day.

We arrived at "Atwayan Beach" at high noon and the Sun at its fiercest! We quickly went into a Kubo and the boat men or "Bangkeros" brought us our packed lunch, the good thing is that the lunch comes with fresh fishes and a few kilos of extra rice, it's included to the tour we availed!

The packed lunch we had was rice, tomato and pork chop Liempo wrapped in banana leaves. The fish was cooked in the boat while we were touring the islands.

The food was so delicious especially when you're at the beach. There's one thing we all agreed upon, eating fish is best at lunch on the beach.

The food was so mouth-watering that I dropped using my spoon and fork and starting eating with my hands! After I started eating with my hands, the boys followed afterwards and ate with their own set of hands! We were enjoying our food when we saw the Japanese tourist arrived at the island and he was walking alone, I hate seeing people on their own (although I always would want to travel alone, weird huh?) I hope he wasn't agitated by seeing me.

I eat with my hands baby 'cause I'm Pinoy this way!
After that super whammed packed lunch made us ten pounds heavier, we proceeded to the sixth destination for the day, the "Skeleton Wreck".

According to www.coronwrecks.com:

"This wreck is the keel, ribs and stringers of a steel-hulled boat about 25 meters long. Location: Northwest corner of Coron Island. This wreck was beached with the bow a dozen meters from Coron Island. The stern points directly away from the island. The wreck slopes along the reef from 5 meters deep at the bow to 22 meters at the stern. A pass through on the starboard side of the hull at 14 meters allows you to swim from the inside of the boat out over the coral reef."

Here's a video of Miko reaching the wreck. Video by Mikki.
I didn't get to see the wreck for the second time (First was in 2007) because like Mark, I was also hit with the skin-irritating planktons on my right arm and I had itchy rashes all over me plus the painful wound on my foot. But still, it didn't stop me because it's all part of the travel!

The CYC Beach boasts of its Mangroves. I didn't go down because my hand was still itchy from the plankton attack. CYC is the 7th destination.
The Twin Lagoon!
The Twin Lagoon's entrance is like of the kingdoms of the movie "The Lord of the Rings". It was high tide so we used the stairs to go into the lagoon, if it's low tide one can just swim under the small opening through the Lagoon. The water here is brackish and cool.

What made this lagoon more interesting was this:

This is the military way of fixing a dislocated shoulder.
Mikki was the one who helped me put back my dislocated shoulder, read about it HERE. This time he was the one who had his shoulder dislocated as he tried to swim through the submerged entrance to the lagoon (just below the stairs is the entrance to the lagoon, it is visible and easy to access when it is low tide.) My brother helped him put back his shoulder. Mikki is like me who dislocated his shoulder a few years back, mine was in 2008.

As we were chasing sunlight we hurried to Barracuda Lake, for me it's the scarier lake. Scary because of its name, we all know that Barracudas can slice a human arm with one bite, and this deep brackish watered lake is named after it. The name of the lake can scare a person by just thinking about it.

While the sun was setting and we head back to the city, I wrote this little note:

"With the wind against us, I looked at the horizon and
the fire red dying Sun stirs with the enveloping sky.
What a sight to see, I can't help but appreciate
the wonder of my country".

Coron engulfed in darkness and illuminated by its habitants.

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