The Philippines! Palawan, PART 4: Be Good To Me, Friday

The caretaker was having Pancit Bihon (thin rice noodles) and sliced bread when I found him in a small dining room-cum-kitchen. I heard my stomach whimper. How much do I owe you? The caretaker looked unprepared for my question and glanced at the ceiling. Sir, 180 will do, looking uncertain as he turned to look at me in reply. I had just finished packing my things after a walk around the beach savouring the fresh morning air. The owners were arriving soon, I was told, and it was time to leave.

I had to wake up early to make further exploration of the place possible which was as deserted as I had found it when I arrived the previous afternoon. I sat by a rivulet of unearthly clear water draining into the beach as I watched the blue-gray morning seep into the hemisphere to the sound of hushed lapping of waves and birds trying to outdo one another for the title of Palawan Idol.
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rivulet pwn 11.22.11

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The road back was serene and practically devoid of any traffic, which made me wonder how the people here traveled to and from the city-hub. I would see the rare jeepney, and some tricycles, but they showed up quite far in between. I was grateful for my rented motorbike which I haggled down to P350 for 24 hours, without which my whimsical itinerary would in no way be possible.

A couple of years ago, I took a tricycle from the airport and asked its driver for directions to the Underground River, Palawan’s main attraction. He told me that since I only had 2 days to spend, I would not be able to make it since I had already missed the last jeep for the day. There’s a solution though, Sir. You can rent a motorbike for P500, His face lighting up, as he turned on the gas and roared his tricycle along the main road, spewing expanding white smoke that rendered the traffic behind us virtually invisible.  We stopped at a garage under big Acacia trees where more than a dozen motorcycles were prominently displayed in neat rows. I bent and stepped off the tricycle. I sat on a red Honda XRM. It looked to be the cheapest among the other bikes on display compared with a few Motocross bikes gleaming and standing proudly out in front. How many hours will P500 get me?

24 hours, Sir, and the gas is on you, Replied the teenager attending to us. The driver seemed quite pleased with himself. You should go for it, Sir. It’s the only way you can get to the Underground River, trust me. I nodded my head slowly in agreement. (I would later find out that he earned a cut from this arrangement).

I’ll take it.

I paid the driver who was now back seated on his tricycle. I threw in a generous tip. Thank you, sir! So, problem solved and everything okay, right?, he said proudly.

Actually, no. I said matter-of-factly as I turned away lugging my big, black backpack towards my bike.

His voice sounded genuinely concerned. Why sir, what’s the problem?

He scratched his head and smiled at my reply.

I said, I don’t know how to drive a motorbike.

 

I’m riding the very same motorbike this Good Friday as I drove past a sign that said ‘Salakot Water Falls’. I had ridden a few blocks past it before I decided to make a u-turn and check it out.

 

bridge2 pwn 11.22.11

This bridge doesn’t seem to see that many crossings

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rush pwn 11.22.11

This place would be a hit and a great picnic venue if it were more accessible

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vine pwn 11.22.11

Deserted but alive with weird birdsong

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5 star 11.22.11 pwn

The resort-accommodation is not exactly 5-star, but the ventilation is unbeatable

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(To be continued)