The Ride of a Lifetime: Chapter 1
In the Chinese zodiac, I was born in the year of the horse. According to tradition, this perfectly explains my penchant for wandering. I need to stretch my legs; gallop far
and wide. It’s fitting that I have ended up in Asia the past few years, submersing myself in cultures and climates vastly different than my own.
For me, there is no better way to explore a new place than by motorcycle. It is the modern day stallion, providing nomads and wanderers the ultimate freedom and mobility. As a photographer, I especially love the ability to stop along the road anywhere I see something that catches my eye. Bus rides are torture for photographers.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Palawan, it’s a large Philippine island bordering the South China / West Philippine Sea. It has consistently been ranked as one of the top tropical islands with the best beaches in the world, so it’s no surprise that tourists come here in droves.
However, the island still has vast stretched of rugged untouched jungles and white-sand beaches, well off the beaten path. That’s why when rent-a-bike.ph offered to provide me a motorcycle, I jumped at the chance.
I landed in the island’s main hub, Puerto Princesa, and stopped by the motorcycle rental place right next door to the airport. I tested out a yellow Kawasaki Rouser and loved the way it felt. It’s an on-road bike, but it felt quite stable, and I've had heaps of practice riding off road. Rent-a-bike.ph is owned by a Russian transplant named Sergey. He offered to take me on a quick ride to some of the nice beaches nearby.
The next morning, after a great stay at the Ivywall Hotel a block away, I met Sergey and we made our way out of town. The roads are nice and windy, and quite scenic. We pulled over at a mountainous overlook, and Sergey maneuvered his Honda so we could get this shot.
Then we continued to little-known Kalaodiong Beach. The last stretch of road is unpaved, and a bit steep and rough. The beach at the end is pretty good, though. It’s probably the nicest, undeveloped beach relatively close to Puerto Princesa.
Actually, there's literally nothing on this beach. Just a few locals who might ask for 20 pesos to park your motorbike. We had more to see, so after relaxing here for a few minutes, we started back for Nagtabon beach, another gem which we had passed on the way.
There is a visita point along the way between the two beaches...at least I think that's where it was located. If you want to relax and have a fresh coconut with views out to sea, this is a good place.
Nagtabon beach is a tiny bit developed, and has a few options for snacks, food, and drinks. If you walk to the end of the beach, a Filipino American has returned to his roots and opened up a unique guest house there. I think it's called Caroline's Secret Resort.
It’s basically a simple beach bar, but there is a giant castle “turret” which you can stay overnight in. However, it has no windows or screens, and is quite expensive for what you get. I suppose it’s the unique experience you’re paying for.
We were pretty hungry by the time we arrived here, so we stayed for dinner. Had a few (pricey) drinks and burgers. No other options like this on the beach, so prices reflect that. It is a bit remote, so transporting supplies probably costs him, I guess. Anyhow, super nice guy.
Here is the view from the top of the castle turret. There is also a small rope bridge you have to cross to get here...
Caroline's is an excellent place for watching the sunset, too. As chance would have it, 2 women from Latvia were there practicing “stick dancing” on the beach. I captured these silhouette shots just before we left...after the sun had dipped below the horizon.
( In photos: 1. Silhouette of 2 women checking their phone on beach 2. Nagtabon Sunset landscape )
We had walked all the way back to the motorbikes on the other end of the beach...then I realized I left my sunglasses back at the resort. I told Sergey I would just meet him back in Puerto Princesa later, and then I ran back to get them.
Luckily I found them in the dark, and trekked all the way back to the bike again. Then I made the trip back to Puerto Princesa in the dark...it seemed to take forever! I think I was pretty exhausted.
(Continued below...but I'd be honored if you want to follow along with me on FB)
Once back in Puerto Princesa, I met with a tour operator to get more information about my next stop, the Underground River tour in Sabang. She invited me on the tour as a way of saying thanks for promoting the Philippines. Very kind, and she even told me there was no need to promote her company specifically!
Anyhow, as I would realize during the next few days, this short ride was only a warm up. The ride to Sabang the next day was unforgettable! I’ll leave that for chapter two…
You can find hotel rates and reviews for Puerto Princesa HERE
*Motorbike for this trip was provided by www.rent-a-bike.ph.
If you notice any misinformation or something that needs correcting, please don’t hesitate to let me know!
- Nathan Allen
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