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Sunday, December 5, 2010

On The (Long) Road to Palaui Island

Our long Bonifacio weekend journey to Palaui Island was by no means easy. It's tough for my butt which became numbed 5 hours into our bus trip from Cubao to Tuguegarao and that's only the first half of the over-all 10 hour bus ride. We left the Cubao terminal of Victory Liner at about 10 pm and arrived at Tuguegarao at somewhere around 9 am with brief stop-over's at the towns of Tumauini in Isabela and San Pablo to visit two Spanish colonial churches found there.

We stayed for the day in Tuguegarao and took time by visiting Callao Cave and enjoyed a leisure boat stroll along the scenic Pinacanauan River to witness the circadian flights of over a million bats - a sight that left me in awe. The next day we woke up early to prepare for another 3 hour trip to Sta. Ana, Cagayan by buying some things needed for camping out at Palaui Island. We passed by the Metropolitan Cathedral of Tuguegarao and rode the Sta. Ana bound van by 9:30 am.

Metropolitan Cathedral of Tuguegarao
The sun was bright and I was wide awake most of the time during the duration of the trip. We passed by quaint little towns that I'd love to stop by if only we have more time. Endless rice fields where ducks, cows and carabaos hangs out meet my gaze out of the window. I also took notice of the kilometer markings on the side of the road since the last kilometer marker of "642 KM" is found in Sta. Ana.

I love the feeling of long rides, butt numbed and all my mind is forever up to something - including plotting a bloodless revolution and what better way to do one's thinking than passing through God's painted creation. Another thing I noticed was the bridges, I lost count, but we passed by a number of bridges probably because Cagayan river is one complex river system that branches out in all direction including the aforementioned Pinacanauan river.


I also saw Port Irene, a place where car fanatics buys imported automobiles at a much cheaper price, considering the political connection of Cagayan I can only speculate at the legality of those imported cars. At about 1:00 pm we finally reached Sta. Vicente Port in Sta Ana, Cagayan. After a brief rest we rented a boat for 800 pesos two way (good for 6-8 people), a reasonable fee considering we are a group of 6 people.


Palaui Island is inhabited by around 500 people mostly families of fishermen and a Navy detachment is also located on the island where we registered our names. Fishing boats always come and go from Palaui to Sta Vicente port so there's no need to worry about getting stranded on the island.

threesome hikers: me, carrie & sharlyn
Accompanied by our two guides who were wearing shirts that says "Turismo Solusyon sa Kahirapan" - in a way that visitors on the island help people there earn additional income. I don't consider paying for a guide as "tourist trap" unless the place is easy to reach. However, we should all remember the importance of being responsible and not to create mess by avoiding bastardizing and vandalizing the places we would visit. I was disgusted at what I saw inside Callao Cave where people etched their names on the rock formation.

Where we camped for the night
Anyway Benoit and Franco - our guides together with Franco's dog "Lambert" -we took a hike that would take us another 2 hours to reach the other side of the island which is more ideal for camping. During the months of summer, the boat can directly take you to that place, but since we went there during the end of the monsoon months and the start of the cold season of December, the waves aren't ideal for small boats to navigate - thus we were only dropped on the part of Palaui facing Sta. Ana, Cagayan.

Poker face in the wind
Got to have a picture with my backpack
The hike calls for a brisk pace but not that tiring as the terrain was almost straight throughout with minimal elevated hiking but we took some time navigating the muddy portion of the trail as your feet can get sucked by the mud up to a foot below your knee.



We arrived at the beach where we camped out for the night at around 4 pm, more than enough time to set up camp, cook our late lunch and dinner and to go for a quick swim. We bought crabs from Ate Simone who lives nearby and whose family earns a living by fishing around Palaui island. Carrie cooked bacon and sausage while Belle and her two other friends chipped in hotdogs and corned beef. I got to use also for the first time, the first tent I bought for my own. Yeah I know quite an achievement for me having a "home on my back - wherever and whenever"

Conquer tent

We drank alcohol during the night and waited for stars to show up to lighten up the pitch black darkness around. It rained momentarily before the stars showed up. We tried to sleep at around 10 pm, managing to steal sleep in spurts before deciding to start the new day at around 3am when we started cooking our breakfast.


After sunrise we went atop the hill where the Cape Engano Lighthouse is located, its a hike upward of about more than a hundred steps that affords you a magnificent view of the surroundings off Palaui, where one could see the blue waters and the rocky island around the island breaking with the waves and a strong wind that tries to erase your face and pretends to blow you off your feet.

view from the lighthouse

A detailed history of Cape Engano can be found here.



It was a long trip going to Palaui Island taking the land route, you can minimize travel time by taking a plane from Manila to Tuguegarao, but who would want to do that? In all we traveled 10 hours from Manila to Tuguegarao then another 3 hours to Sta Ana then hiked for another 2 hours for a total of 15 hours. Not bad for spending the Bonifacio long weekend plus an additional day as we passed by Ilocos on the way home to Manila with a stop-over at Vigan.


I'm glad I was able to realize my year-long plan of going to Palaui, I've been fascinated and interested with the place since I saw it on TV one boring Sunday and what a great way to pencil out another supposedly boring weekend by living it up, packing my bags, camping gears and all and dragging a few friends for the long, arduous but very memorable trip on the northernmost part of Luzon. 

the look-away pose
Shout out to my friends who came along: Carrie aka Lauren (her real name) who used to model for known photographers until she quit by saying "it has become a bastardized practice" and Sharlyn who wakes up late but goes to bath nonetheless half-asleep. Belle and her friends MJ and Jay. Deuter who gave me a 50% discount on my backpack "Deuter Futura Vario 50+10" a durable backpack suited for long weekend camping.


she started our hike wearing a pair of platform shoes, changed to flip flops halfway and just had a pedicure and foot spa



pusang kalye said...

rabeh Marky---ang ganda. napa-imagine ako bigla na ako pupunta dyan kaso parang effort masyado hahaha. diba nakakatakot overnight dyan?

Markyramone said...

rabeh Anton, di naman nakakatakot kasi may mga nakatira naman doon, like sa campsite namen may kalapit na bahay pwede nga makitulog dun eh...effort nga masyado kaya dapat daan ka ng Tuguegarao para maka pasyal ren dun tas mga 3-4 days minus travel time.

Ideal sa summer para deretso na kayo ng bangka dun sa may lighthouse, para no need for hiking na..

Anonymous said...

I quit when i gained 25 lbs. Hahaha.

As usual love the write-up :)
And Marky, what's the use of a pseudonym if you're blatantly advertising my name?!

Ada said...

Ganda marky, pero saket sa pwet nung 10-hour bus ride eeekk pero sulit naman! Nakapag Vigan pa! Awts!

Joel Aldor said...

Grrrr. I should've went there with you guys. :)

Markyramone said...

@Carrie - there I changed your (chugged 2 pints of mayonnaise) picture na with a decent one haha

@Ada - onga eh kaya dapat stop over for the night at Tuguegarao, dami ren mapuntahan dun

@Joel - sabi nga nila dapat pina inom ka daw ng sleeping pill sa bus para pg gising mo Tuguegarao na, pero you had an awesome trip naman sa Dupax, Nueva Ecija..

ChiChi said...

Oooh what an amazing place...Palaui. Thanks for bringing within my radar. Now itching to plan a trip there too!

Btw, I love long bus rides as well. What's that they say? It's not all about the destination but the experiences in getting there.

Chyng said...

omg! ang ganda! sama ko yan sa list ko for next yr! =)

Markyramone said...

Happy traveling Chin and Chyng...Chichichyng nice rolls with the tongue...

hope to come along with one of your trips for next year :)

Anonymous said...

I will post it in my page in facebook


this is to promote any good blogs..


Im oliver by the way.

Markyramone said...

wow. Thanks Oliver I've "Like" your facebook page.

men's sport sandals said...

Wow, beautiful pictures, can't wait to get up there. I'm traveling there this spring, been searching online for info on the area, so thanks a bunch! Happy Holidays! :)

Reymos said...

Wow stunning landscape. Thanks for sharing the beauty of our home country, the Philippines. Merry Xmas.

Anonymous said...

Hi, where are those hiking trails in the picture located? Are those from Palaui, or just part of your side trip?

If possible, kindly provide details of your itinerary. Thanks!!!

Markyramone said...

Hi, the hiking trails are in Palaui...boats cant take people to the side where the lighthouse is located during non-summer months coz of big waves - so you need to hike for a couple of hours.

Palaui itinerary can be found here: http://www.nomadicexperiences.com/p/maps-of-places-i-went.html

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your experience in Palau. I've heard good reviews about their beaches and resorts there. I wish we can plan a trip there, too! :)

Anyway, can I ask if there's an airline already offering a trip directly to Palau?

nina said...

I love Palaui! Kung di lang talaga deadly ang alon papunta, babalik ako ngayon din!

Markyramone said...

@Nina, yeah I'll definitely go back next year. Hopefully the waves aren't that strong para deretso na dun sa may lighthouse so less hiking haha

Anonymous said...

This is way better than the other stories I've read! I got the feel of how it will be next week. I'll be traveling alone - accidentally. My friends bail after saying yes.Tsk. Is guts, sense of direction, instinct and money enough for me to conquer Palaui?


Markyramone said...

Anonymous - you can hire a guide in Palaui to take you to the lighthouse. Sense of direction and adventure is more than enough. Enjoy.

Anonymous said...

i wanna go there too!how much is enough for this trip? :)

Markyramone said...

Hi, budget is mostly on the bus fare...900 back and forth Manila-Cagayan and another 100 for a van to Sta Ana, then 800 for the boat roundtrip and 400 pesos for the guide.

renevic | palaboy said...

wowow =) tara na sa long weekend =)

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