Friday, January 29, 2016

Wedding Pictures Updated

Just a note that I've updated some more wedding pictures to the wedding picture page on the right hand side of the blog.  Also linked here for convenience.

Pictures from Palawan

On Saturday in Palawan, my friend and I took a full day tour to Coron island where we saw (and swam in) Barracuda Lake and Cayangan Lake, went snorkeling in Siete Peccados, and soaked up Manquinit hot springs.  We almost didn't go on this tour because it seemed a little touristy, was a little bit pricey (for Philippines standards) and because it was an early start with multiple boat and van transfers, departing at 8 am and returning at 5 pm.  But having seen these sights, I am SO glad we did.

The natural beauty in Palawan is without compare.

The only place I have seen this kind of biodiversity, beautiful coral, plentiful fish, and just amazing, unpolluted, quiet, unpopulated natural beauty… is the Galapagos.

These are pictures taken as we pulled up to Barracuda Lake.   Limestone karsts, clear sea foam green waters, and bright blue skies make this entire scene surreal.
Here, a snorkeler enjoyed the crystal clear sights.
Lots of boats pull into the naturally shallow cove.

 To get to Barracuda lake, we had to traverse a series of primitive, somewhat slippery, wooden steps, leaving behind the ocean to get to the uniquely 30% saltwater 70% freshwater lake.
 And there she was.

We had to share with a few divers, but overall the place felt like ours.

 The water was so clear you could see straight down.
 The best part about Barracuda lake was the steep limestone karats that plunged straight into the water.
 After Barracuda Lake, we went to Lake Cayangan.

It looked crowded and busy as we approached - and there was a lot of smoke!
 Turned out it was because all the boats of other tour groups were busily preparing lunch.
It's kind of amazing what these guys can do on such a small little craft.
Remarkable, and looks tasty!
 When we climbed up 300 steps and then down 200 steps or so, we finally emerged into the natural wonder and beauty that is Lake Cayangan.  The water was just an unbelievable turquoise blue, especially when the sun shone directly on it.

 There were quite a few people when we got there.

 Hard to tell where the rock and water meet, right?

It was amazing, and so relaxing, to swim in this natural pool.  

 Loving it!

After we swam until our fingers were pruny, we left this scene behind and hiked back up to the top, where we saw...
 THIS view from Coron Island.
 Yes, this is THE view.
We devoured our lunch on the boat, leaving the lake and Coron island behind, then went swimming at Siete Peccados, a beautiful and well preserved marine park.  We dropped anchor right in front of this sign (which said no fishing) and then went snorkeling.  There were vibrant coral and lots of sea life.  I even saw a school of black tipped sharks! 
 The only terrible thing about it… was the stinging plankton!!  Little did we know, January is stinging plankton season and those little buggers REALLY really hurt.  It felt like little electrical shocks, or tiny needle pinpricks.

Our guide came back with huge welts on his neck.  My friend got huge welts that showed up a day after.  I got a little bruise on my arm that showed up two days later, but at the time I didn't really have much of a reaction.  However, I also immediately poured warm vinegar all over my body, so I don't know how much that helped.
 I didn't smell great after my dip, but these views sure made up for it.
 After all that, we went to Maquinit hot springs, where we got this beautiful view...
...while sitting in these natural hot springs, which reached 40 degrees Celsius.  The water is supposedly heated from an active but dormant volcano.

In summary, I sure did like this day trip!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Palawan, A Philippine Paradise!

Oh, Palawan was a very much needed infusion of sun, heat and humidity, and despite the trip's brevity (and my terrible, awful, no good luck with the Manila international airport), the quick jaunt was definitely worth it.  Here are a few pictures, to whet your appetite, if you wish to see...

My friend and I stayed at the El Rio y Mar resort, located on the northwest corner of Coron on the island of Busuanga.  The resort was the only accommodation on a bay that led out to the ocean. 
For all intents and purposes, the resort was only accessible by a boat transfer. 
Here, the dock, which also served as a bar and was great for sunsets.
It was pretty remote.
For much of the day it really felt like we were the only ones there. 
We stayed in this little cedar cabin, which was very spacious and comfortable.  It faced the water, had a gentle hammock on the front porch, and was on stilts because the water from the mangroves would rise at night .

The single most incredible thing about the place was the water.  I repeat, incredible.
You could see coral and fish as if you were in an aquarium.
Even schools of fish at the bottom are visible to the naked eye.  And I was taking these pictures from a dock above the water!  It makes snorkeling almost unnecessary!
Oh yeah, the sunsets were pretty good too. 
El Rio Y Mar