Dos Palmas

More than a week ago, a visit to the 14th island of Puerto Princesa Philippines was a visit to one of the pristine places in the country.  Dos Palmas has had its bad days which tags the resort for a couple of years already. One of these is the terror of the Abu Sayaff kidnappings of a foreign couple.  Another one is the questionable death of a Filipino matinee idol during his vacation with other celebrities.

Days before our flight to the islands of Puerto Princesa, I was kind of anxious that my company wouldn’t enjoy the 4-day vacation because it was going to be quiet in the place since it wasn’t a favorite summer spot after those ill-fated events of the past years.  I was half-expecting that we will be the only one visiting during that weekend.  Thankfully, I was wrong because there was a number of people who was staying in the resort during the weekend.  I guess the tarnished reputation of the island was now beginning to clear up.

Upon arrival, there was a band of the traditional local percussion and strings that made a welcoming noise to the incoming visitors who arrived by a ferry boat.

This was a pic when we were leaving for Manila but looks the same when we got to the Island almost 4 days before this pic was taken 🙂

There were only three groups of people in the ferry boat and was not at all cramped which made the one hour travel through Honda Bay more comfortable as we passed by the first 13 islands of Puerto Princesa.

During the one-hour boat ride to Dos Palmas resort, staff in the ferry boat bring with them palms and they create origami-like animals or figures to give to passengers.  They do the same during the boat ride back to Manila, or rather to the airport.

I get the grasshopper 🙂 on the way to the island.

The one who made the origami-like palm leaf art on our way back to the airport.

I get the lovebirds on our way back to Manila.

And then there was the usual welcome drink.  We were in time for lunch so we also get to enjoy the lunch buffet.  The outdoor restaurant was almost empty of guests.  I thought we were doomed in an almost empty resort until the waiter explained that the rest of the guest was having a picnic lunch in a nearby island.  Whew!  I thought, there was still hope for this vacation.

I'm on my 2nd plate so it was a little less than my first. The white cheese-filled cherry tomatoes were superb.

I was with my cousin and my parents during those days in the resort.  But basically, my cousin and I spent every hour on the island and left my parents by themselves for their vacation.

During our first night, my cousin and I spent a couple of hours on the bridgeway that connected the entrance/bay villas with the reception lobby/island.  I’m sure I have seen those many stars before but that night, it was like I haven’t.  The sky was filled with stars – inch by inch of the dark sky.  It was awesome to be able to lean back on the bench and look up and see nothing but stars.  So many of them.

It wasn’t all that quiet during our stay on that bridgeway that night because a couple of guests were going up and around like we are and a couple of gunned security guards were also roaming that night.  There were also a group of men who, we presume, were navy men who were wearing their basketball jerseys.  We saw their boat “parked” nearby and the resort staff said some of the navy men made use of the resort of the facilities and had their dinner or lunch in the resort while they were there.  This made me feel good.  At least, the islands of Honda Bay were definitely guarded.  After which, I wasn’t at all worried for the rest of our stay.

My cousin and I went to bed before it was midnight.  I had to pull my cousin from the bridgeway and head to our own beach villa which was less than 500 meters from the bridge way benches.

I chose the bed by the veranda.

I was physically and emotionally tired.  The phone calls I was getting wasn’t at all reassuring.  It would be nice to leave your cellphone alone after leaving the city with the thought that you left when it was all good to leave and it will remain the same when you get back.  But it wasn’t the case.  My caller was dumping me with problems and wanted me to go back as soon as possible.  The problem was we already paid for a four-day stay and it wasn’t cheap.  I don’t want to let it go to waste even though, it wasn’t out of my own pocket.  Secondly, my flight back to Manila wasn’t until four days.  So the call I couldn’t do anything to help the caller which absolutely made me feel so uneasy.  I was kind of irritated but what can I do about it.

So back to my vacation.  I was able to sleep despite the problematic calls.  We started our first morning in the island reviewing the schedule the travel planner gave our company.  From the short list she gave us, we decided to go ahead with the scuba diving lessons.

We need to learn inside the pool before we take us to the open waters.

post to be continued

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