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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Marcos' Hot Spring: Public Hot Spring in Sta. Lourdes Puerto Princesa Palawan Philippines

Although we've had hot spring baths before, we Travel Tripsters, have never seen an actual hot spring source before so we after our failed trek to Boton Irawan Falls (not to mention the difficulty of going all the way up there which our trike surrendered to and turned out to be closed to public due to drought), we triked all the way from Irawan to Sta. Lourdes to see Marcos' Hot Spring.

marcos hot spring
From there's a sign to go to the back part to see it.
marcos hot spring
So this is the natural hot spring.  I wonder how they managed to place a tube and wall around it.  It was really hot and bubbling.  We've been told that locals have been cooking their eggs here since its discovery.  This is the main source of the hot spring water and it is pumped to the pools.

marcos hot spring
Fellow Travel Tripster Kurt was thrilled over this and spent around 30 minutes taking this photo.  I never got why but I'm sharing it with you cause maybe you can see the art in it or something.  I looked gross to me and I was impatient so I went on to see where we can bathe.

marcos hot spring
This was unoccupied when I arrived but soon a family of locals came and rented it out.  The locals though we were Chinese or Korean tourists so they were very friendly with us and spoke to us in English.  They told us that we could rent this for 500 php an hour.  We found the rate to be reasonably priced but the apparent stains and greenish color of the water made us repulsive. 

We Travel Tripsters learned a lot from this visit.  But, no we're not dipping ourselves in the Marcos' Hot Spring.

Marcos' Hot Spring
Address Barangay Sta. Lourdes, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Philippines
Budget Per Person 50-500 Marcos' Hot Spring Map
Payment Options Cash

Operating Hours Monday to Sunday:
(even holidays)
8am-5pm
Reservation Required No
Contact

Monday, December 29, 2014

Garcellano Tourist Inn: Budget Backpacker's Accomodation (Rizal Avenue Puerto Princesa Palawan Philippines)

After not being able to board our Airasia flight back to Manila due to overbooking, we had to look for a place to stay for the night.  The airport guards and employees pitied us for not being able to be home for New Year's eve and suggested and pointed Garcellano Tourist Inn as a cheap accommodation.

Garcellano Tourist Inn
It was easy to find because (1) everyone knows where it is and (2) it is found along Rizal Avenue at the center of the city.

Inside the seemingly small two-door entrance and past the lobby is a huge compound.

Even though we got the cheapest room available at 450 php per night,  we were amazed that the rooms are not as small as studio-type or pigeon-hole-condo-types.  Instead, they were big apartment-like rooms.

By the way, this is what their key chain looks like.  We presumed they don't want  us to loose our keys.  There's also two towels laid on our queen-sized bed.

Yes, it's a big queen-size bed with a bed table on the side.  There is also a closet with hangers in them.   There's a bench and a desk with lots of sockets too.

Although we're happy with the cleanliness and generous area-size of our room, we were very disappointed with the rest room.   The sink and its counter had evident stains and mildew. 

We used the toilet as if it was a public toilet and we couldn't take a bath given the way the shower area was presented.
 
Garcellano Tourist Inn
Hotel Address 257 Rizal Avenue, Puerto Princesa  City, Philippines
Contact (6338) 433-2314 Reservation Required No (Encouraged)
Payment Options Cash Public Transport Jeep, Taxi
General Amenities
Parking Yes (very limited)
Travel Tripsters Hotel Review Rating Eurotel Baguio Map
Location
Room Comfort
Cleanliness
Service
Price

Friday, December 26, 2014

Honda Bay Island Hopping Puerto Princesa Palawan Philippines

After stopping by Ken's Snorkeling Gear Rental, we proceeded to the Ticketing Office.

honda bay island hopping puerto princesa palawan
*all photos credited to Travel Tripster Kurt
We already knew this would be expensive (on top of our trike rental of 850 php).  But, we were out of luck because all the small boats were already hired so we had to hire bigger boat with 4 cylinder engine all for ourselves since fellow Travel Tripster Kurt is not comfortable riding with others.

honda bay island hopping puerto princesa palawan
So we spent 1,500 php for our big boat.  Then, we had to pay 40 php environmental fee each and entrance fee to the islands we are visiting as follows:
  • Pambato Reef - 50 php/person
  • Lulli Island - 50 php/person 
  • Pandan Island - 100 php/person
  • Cowrie Island - 75 php/person
honda bay island hopping puerto princesa palawan
Since you're going to be exposed to the sun for long hours.  You definitely have to have a bottle of water.  We bought a gallon and yet it wasn't enough for the both of us.

Upon seeing the gear rentals there, we felt lucky that we rented our girls at  Ken's Snorkeling Gear Rental.  The booties were torn and some where even with holes and the masks didn't look dried and hygenic.  But, rental fees were around 20 php cheaper.


honda bay island hopping puerto princesa palawan
After applying ourselves with a LOT of sunscreen, we boarded our boat.  Do apply some sunscreen!  Travel Tripster Kurt was hesitant at first and trying to be manly.  Yet, once we were done, he was complaining of sunburn pains.  LOL!  You can buy sunblock there by the way.  But, do note the high mark up!

First Stop: Pambato Reef
pambato reef
Our first and favorite stop is Pambato Reef.  It's just a wooden structure in the middle of Honda Bay.  There we were required to wear our Life Jackets, Mask and Snorkel.  There was a picture gallery of different fishes there.  We were also oriented as to safety.  

pambato reef
We were required to hold on the rope as our boatman (acting as our guide) dived and showed us the beauty under the water.  We couldn't go deep enough and stay there long since they were these little water creatures that bite and make small red bumps on our skin. 

pambato reef
Our guide volunteered to dive deeper and take some wonderful shots for us.  (Yes!  The underwater case for our camera rented from Ken's worked wonderfully!)

pambato reef
Our guide doesn't seem to mind getting those little itchy red bumps though as his whole arms and legs were covered with it.  Looking back, I can't help but feel lucky my easily allergic skin back then was quite cooperative.

pambato reef
Next, snorkeling trip though, I'm going to wear a long-sleeved rashguard rather than short.

pambato reef
We tried to dive, swim and take shots by ourselves too.  I think we didn't go as deep or far as our guide though.

pambato reef
It also drained our energy and made us thirsty, hungry and tired.

pambato reef
But, we were pretty much amazed that we didn't realize that until we reached back to our boat.

Second Stop: Isla Pandan
Isla pandan
Isla Pandan is like a resort.  It's got a huge crowd (Too crowded that you can hardly occupy a spot) and music.

Isla pandan
They are lots of activities you can do for a fee.  We were so tempted to go for massage but opted to spend for food instead.

Isla pandan
Despite the high price of food, we ate here a LOT (we were so hungry LOL).  I'd advise to bring your own packed lunch to save.

Isla pandan
After our lunch, we took our time to swim, feed, lure and take photos of the fishes.

Isla pandan
We used up all the bread we bought but managed to take only a few photos because these fishes really swim fast when they fight for food.

Isla pandan
There are some territorial fishes that bit our legs too.  The bite are so tiny so you can't see it but you can feel them striking you when they do.

Third Stop: Cowrie Island
cowrie island
We were supposed to go to Lulli Island as we already paid for the entrance fee. But, our boatmen were in a hurry for another batch and told us that Cowrie Island will be our last stop since there's nothing to see in Lulli Island anyway.  I told them I wanted to take photos of starfishes.  They said we can find a lot at Cowrie Island so we agreed.

cowrie island
There were indeed lots of starfishes there and our boatmen even took some funny shots which we are a bit embarrassed to share here. =p

After Cowrie Island, we headed back.  Our trike driver Jeremy was waiting for us and we headed over at Ken's to return our gears.

Overall, we Travel Tripsters had a fun day!  It was honestly quite costly cause we're a small group of two.  But, we're glad with the experience.

Honda Bay Island Hopping
Address Honda Bay (Mid-Eastern Coast)  
Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines
Budget Per Person 600-1,500 Honda Bay Island Hopping Map
Payment Options Cash

Operating Hours Monday to Sunday:
(even holidays)
8am-5pm
Reservation Required No
Contact

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ken's Snorkeling Gears Rental Stopover Before Honda Bay Island Hopping

We Travel Tripsters woke up early for our Honda Bay Isalnd Hopping.  Upon stepping out of our hotel, we spotted our previous Tricycle driver Jeremy waiting outside for customers.  Since fellow Travel Tripster Kurt seemed to like Jeremy, he negotiated with him for the price of 850 php to take us to Honda Bay (based on my research it should 300-400 php if bound for Honda Bay alone), Bonton, Irawan Falls (we went all the way up here to find out it was closed to public =() and Hot Spring.   We could have also rode a jeepney bound to Sta. Lourdes Bay (15 php/person) but Kurt didn't want the hassle despite the huge savings. 
kens snorkeling gears rental
We didn't have any snorkeling gears so Jeremy brought us to Ken's Snorkeling Gears Rental


kens snorkeling gears rental
Based on my research, the price was more expensive than the rental shops in the Honda Bay itself.  But Jeremy told us that the gears here as more hygenic and in good condition.


kens snorkeling gears rental
We inspected the shop and found it to be true.

kens snorkeling gears rental
The Booties are flawless and very clean.

kens snorkeling gears rental
The masks and snorkel are sterilized, dried and plastic wrapped.

kens snorkeling gears rental
We didn't have a waterppof camera but we saw that the had an underwater camera case for rent for 200 php.  We were quite hesitant but they assured us that it was safe.  Once we agreed to rent, the staff did his thing to seal it properly with the case.  They used tissue napkins and scotch tape.  As soon as we paid, Jeremy took some bags of bread (which he says are free to all customers) with us.  I wondered what it was for.  We later found out the it was to feed and lure the fishes. 

We Travel Tripsters highly recommend  Ken's Snorkeling Gears Rental.  The gears are as you can see worth the rental fee and the service is good too.

Ken's Snorkeling Gears Rental
Address National Highway Bgy. Tagburos
Puerto Princesa City,
Philippines
Budget Per Person (63918) 274-4998 | 
(63927) 478-5330
Ken's Snorkeling Gears Rental Map
Payment Options Cash

Operating Hours 6am-6 pm
Reservation Required No
Contact (63918) 274-4998 | 
(63927) 478-5330 |
Facebook Fan Page

Monday, December 1, 2014

Venetian Condotel: My First Budget Stay in the Metro (Sta. Cruz Manila)

I always wanted to try to be a solo backpacker.  So one random day, I packed my bags and decided to have an overnight stay at Venetian Condotel (Manila Venetian Hotel if you're looking for it on Google Maps)
venetian condotel
I took the LRT and stopped at Jose Abad Santos and walked around 15 minutes to Venetian Condotel.  There was a street-wide road construction for Aurora Boulevard so I wasn't able to spot it at once.  But, the Barangay officials were very helpful and directed me to the place.  As I went home, I walked to LRT Blumentritt which is also near.  It also has a 7-11 Convenient Store nearby.  It is also a ride away from Chinese General Hospital, Perpetual Help, SM San Lazaro, Saint Jude and Tutuban

venetian condotel
Upon arrival, someone opened the door for me and led me to the front desk area.  The place felt very secured with CCTV's installed.

Conference Room
venetian condotel
 The second floor had a Conference Room with basic pantry area.

venetian condotel
I was ushered to the 3rd and 4th floor so I could see and select the room I desired. 

venetian condotel
The hallway is very quiet and clean. 

venetian condotel
At the end of the hallway of each floor is a Fire Exit.

Rooms
I was not able to view the suite because it was occupied during my visit.  It was leased on a long-term basis.   All rooms are studio-type nd fully-airconditioned.

Family
venetian condotel
The Family Room is good for four.  It has a comfortable loft and a window view.

venetian condotelvenetian condotel

Deluxe Room for Two
venetian condotelvenetian condotel
The Deluxe Room for two has a 56" inch room, cabinet and spacious leg room.  The restroom also has generous shower area.

Standard
venetian condotel
The Standard Room is only 18 square meters.  It has a single 36" bed with a side desk and working desk.  That's basically it.

venetian condotel
This is the rest room with shower, faucet, toilet and a sink with mirror.

Standard Room for Two
I also noticed that the bed boards are different for each room.  There's also a phone. (You have to ask to have it activated)  The Standard Room for two has a double 48" bed, Cable tv, work desk, mirror (fronting the bed is not good for Feng Shiu) and a side desk.  It has a lot of leg room.

venetian condotel
The rest room for this Standard Room for Two has spacious shower area.

My Standard Room for Two
venetian condotel
I finally settled for the Standard Room for Two at Room 304. 

venetian condotel
It had a beautiful bed board.  The mirror is also not facing the bed.  I also had a chair, working desk and side desk  I love that they provided 4 very fluffy pillows for a two-person room.  The blankets are hypoallergenic too.

venetian condotel
The room was also brightly lit.  Even the lighting is lovely.

venetian condotel
It had a Cable TV (but you have to let them activate it) so you can watch while on bed.  It has an electrical socket below the working desk and another between the mirror and the double bed.

venetian condotel
This is my rest room.  It was sufficiently clean.  The toilet had a bidet too.  Call me OC (obsessive compulsive) but the presence of the used toilet-brush on the shower area made me very uncomfortable.

Rates
venetian condotel
They offer different rates for daily, short and long term.

venetian condotel
Just call to inquire.

Venetian Condotel
Hotel Address 2730 Aurora Boulevard corner Felix Huertas Abanao Street
Sta. Cruz, Metro Manila,  Philippines
Contact (63925) 554-0769
(63939) 934-7254
Facebook Fan Page
Reservation Required No
Payment Options Cash Public Transport LRT (bet. Jose Abad Santos
and Blumentritt), Jeep, Taxi, Tricycle
General Amenities Conference Room Parking No
Travel Tripsters Hotel Review Rating Venetian Condotel Map
Location
Room Comfort
Cleanliness
Service
Price