Teresa and I left Puerto Princesa for a place that made us ache, not just from missing it after we left, but right there, in the moment, because we knew it would be the last time we would see it in the untouched, serenely withdrawn state that it was.
Purchasing transportation to Palawan’s San Vicente region was a little sketchy. We initially considered a public bus and drove to the outdoor station to purchase tickets. We were approached in a way that made it obvious we were viewed as open cash registers. The people we had to deal with to get tickets constantly contradicted themselves on price, distance, time length, and so forth. We simply walked away, deciding not to allow ourselves to feel pressured into anything that didn’t feel right. We walked along a dirt road lined with a spanning multitude of booths and stalls, hundreds of people milling about.
We came to a quieter, less clustered area and found a van company that sold tickets to Poblacion, the main town in San Vicente. We opted for a 4:30 AM pickup time so that we’d get to our destination nice and early. We knew we wouldn’t be doing much on the stretches of Long Beach; we could catch up on some relaxation upon arrival.
We were the first to be picked up, resulting in an interesting night-tour of the city as we made numerous stops to pick up other passengers. Soon after, we were off, up the highway that took us to Sabang, but branching off to the east at a fork in the road. This was new territory for us: lush, rural Palawan. It’s a very beautiful drive and one that, when I think back, Teresa and I could have done with a proper motorbike upgrade. It’s something we’ve discussed taking more seriously for future travels.
We stopped at a nice restaurant for breakfast before continuing on, up from the southern coast along the Sulu Sea to the north along the South China Sea. The roads began winding and the terrain became much hillier. Then it flattened out again and we were driven down one of the bumpiest roads I’ve ever been on. It was rough going as we dropped off various passengers. We got the gist that this road was essentially parallel to the coast.
We were taken to a stop at the town’s port. It really is a tiny little town. We’d heard ahead of time that there were no ATMs, so we stocked up on funds in Puerto Princesa.
Poblacion is on the coast of Palawan. Behind the town, Long Beach unfolds northeast for kilometres. It’s simply a beautiful sight to behold. What was even more beautiful about it was its isolation. Teresa and I swam in waters that reflected a greenish-blue hue that I’ve never seen before, more along the green side. It was crystal clear and uninhabited. We swam alone every day in those waters, sometimes will it rained, but mostly under blistering hot sunlight.
Before we could get to the water, though, we needed to find a place to stay, not yet knowing how long that would be. We rented a motorbike from town, a big, old, rusty one with a mean sounding engine and a foot crank to get it going. It took me a few minutes to get used to, but once I did, it was a grunting beast to drive.
We drove back up the road we’d come in on, bumpy and muddy. We’d traverse that road quite a bit in San Vincente, and because it rained several times, it would often be next to impossible for most vehicles to get through the thick mud and pools of water that formed as a result.
After driving a couple of kilometres, we came across a lovely grounds that held several accommodation options for us. It’s called JuRiSu Resort & Spa. Here, we were welcomed like family by Socrates, or Chef Soc. He was raised in Manila and, upon agreeing to assist a friend in need, flew out to Palawan with his family to manage the business. Soc is as good a man as I’ve met and he made our stay on Long Beach that much more accommodating.
Speaking of Long Beach, it’s a two minute walk from where we lay our heads every night. Soc would always help us carry two beach chairs down to the sandy shores where Teresa and I would bask for hours, relaxing, swimming, reading, sipping on a coffee, snacking on fruit.
The only tough bit was the damn sand flies. You would barely knew they existed if each of their bites didn’t feel like you just received a tiny stab wound. They’re bites are painful and numerous and the protection we used for our skin only worked up until we dove into the water and came back out again, which was understandably frequent. The water, as I mentioned, was beyond incredible and coupled with the heat, there was simply nothing better in those days on Long Beach than diving into a wide, empty, waiting sea with the sun shining down.
Along the northern coast of Palawan, the day ends in an artistically climactic manner. What more can be said?