I work in El Nido, a municipality on the northwestern side of Palawan. The funny thing is that people are always surprised they I tell them it takes 6 hours non-stop to travel from El Nido to Puerto Princesa by land. First: Puerto Princesa is on the opposite side of Palawan so you travel via old logging roads turned paved roads that hug the side of the mountains. Even though you’re traveling on flat land, the winding and swerving road from El Nido to Puerto Princesa feels worse than Kennon Road going up to Baguio. Second: the road from El Nido to Taytay isn’t paved. During the dry season, it’s dusty as hell. During the wet season (when we traveled), the road is littered with deep potholes that need to be avoided or traversed carefully. I went on my first El Nido-Puerto Princesa road trip last July 8-9 when we went to Puerto to buy stuff for Family Day.
We left El Nido at 1pm then stopped at Roxas (the municipality after Taytay) for a late lunch (we had sandwiches in the car but they weren’t enough). We ate at Hoa-Kieu Restaurant, which served Vietnamese fare. Palawan used to be home to a sizeable Vietnamese population because the province accepted refugees. Many migrated to the US but others chose to stay after they married Filipinas and established businesses. There are good Vietnamese restaurants all over Palawan – though I’ve only eaten in Viet Ville in Puerto Princesa – but this place wasn’t one of them. My P85 dish of spicy squid consisted of just one small squid. I also got to taste the French bread with scrambled egg filling – the bread was very good but the scrambled egg was very bland. The best part of the meal was the guyabano shake.
We got to Puerto Princesa at around 7:30pm after a nauseating last few miles of winding road. I spotted the brand-spanking-new Robinson’s Place Palawan – a three-storey mall with four digital theaters. They were showing “The Amazing Spider-man” in 3D! The regular tickets are P120 while the 3D tickets are P200. Was so tempted to watch in Puerto since decent cinemas in Manila cost P180 each and 3D costs P300. We stayed at Hibiscus Garden Inn, a small inn off Rizal St. We got the standard room for P1,800 a night. The room was HUGE! I could have done several cartwheels before hitting the opposite wall. The room was air-conditioned with two beds (a double and a single), cable TV, and personal refrigerator. The bathroom was also big, with hot water, shampoo, and soap. Unfortunately, you only get the free Wi-Fi if you’re outside the room. They have a small restaurant but breakfast is not included in the room rate. This seemed unfair to me since the inn is some streets away from Rizal Avenue (Puerto’s main thoroughfare) and there are no other restaurants nearby.
We headed out for dinner after dropping off our stuff and freshening up. We wanted to eat at Ka Lui’s since everyone says it’s a must-do in Puerto but we discovered that 1) you need to make reservations, and 2) there are only two time slots for dinner: 6:30pm and 8:30pm. We ended up at Tio Rod’s Resto, Bar, and Lounge instead and never regretted it.
We were the only ones there on a Sunday evening so the food came out fast. Since we’d never been there before, we chose the set meal (I forget which one) and added some pad thai because we’re greedy like that 😛 OMG the green mango salad was fantastic! You figure it’s just a simple green mango salad but it had something that set it apart from the others I’ve tasted. Sir Raul (our F&B Manager) and I figured it was the bagoong/patis dressing.
We also had fish sinigang, adobong kangkong, and crispy pata.
The kicker of the meal was the assorted grilled platter. Crabs, shrimps, squid, and chicken on one plate!
Tio Rod’s Resto, Bar, and Lounge
355 Rizal Avenue
Puerto Princesa City
Hibiscus Garden Inn
Puerto Princesa City
Day 2: running all over Puerto Princesa City for supplies. Phew!