Sunday 6 January 2013

Palawan New Years 2013: Day 3 - El Cielo Mansion

Our third day on Palawan was supposed to be our Underground River tour but we found out at breakfast that the coast guard cancelled it due to bad weather. We were disappointed but our hotel told us that they would contact the tour company and try to get us in the next day. Because this happened to be New Years Day, the permit office was closed so we wouldn't know until the next morning if we could actually go. (It is a protected area so you need to get a permit to visit the river.) Oh, the suspense!!!

I'll take this time to talk a little about our accommodations.

El Cielo Mansion

We stayed at El Cielo Mansion. It is what is referred to as a 'pension' or 'bed-and-breakfast'. It had only been open for about five months so everything was very new. It only has about a dozen rooms and the staff are very attentive.

The courtyard.
When you walk in the entrance, you can see the whole place. The kitchen and breakfast area is across the courtyard. Our room was fairly small and basic but also very clean. There is a/c in every room that works great. 

One thing that we thought was hilarious, is that the plug for the TV was Euro style but the outlets in the wall were all flat! They might have had adapters but we never asked. I've noticed that here; electronics come with every imaginable plug! We've picked up a few power bars that can take the different styles. Same voltage, different plug.

A mother hen with her chicks.
The breakfast choices were "continental" or "Filipino". Continental was two pieces of toast, two slices of fried spam like meat and a fried egg. Filipino was rice, fried fish and a fried egg. And it was made fresh for you when you came to the table. They would usually ask us the night before what time we wanted breakfast. I suspect they used fresh eggs, based on the number of chickens running around the yard.

Orchids growing on a tree by the driveway.
This is a nice quite place for a very reasonable price. It is by no means some five-star resort, but choosing your lodging is based on what kind of traveller you are and what kind of experience you want.

The one thing that we found frustrating, which has nothing to do with the hotel, was the transportation. There are no taxis or jeepneys, only trikes. And many of the drivers are out to gouge you! We are spoiled with our honest drivers and set rates here in Davao. In Puerto Princesa, we were told that the rate for the trike was P8 for the first two km and then P1 for each km after that, per person. But you have to negotiate the price up front. We had guys asking P100 for 1.5km! (It only costs about P200 to run a trike for a whole day.) It's not that we can't afford it, but it's the principal of the thing. I get that we have to pay the "white tax" but these guys are taking advantage of ignorant tourists. Puerto Princesa is a burgeoning tourist destination and this will become an issue. People need to be able to get around easily and there are no alternatives right now.

Still, this was a wonderful trip and I highly recommend it to anyone considering a vacation in the Philippines.

Nest post, Pristine Beach...

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