Words & Photos By Nathan Allen
The Ride of a Lifetime: The Long Way Home–Chapter 8
After the jaw-dropping island-hopping photos I captured at Linapacan with Tapik Resort, I decided to ride the “long” way back to Taytay. Ironically, the long way is actually shorter in distance, and much more direct. However, the road is still very long…and very much unpaved.
I had it in my mind that I wanted explore the full loop of (north) Palawan, with as little backtracking as possible. Despite people advising me against it, I continued. For this, I was rewarded with endless vast stretches of scenic coastline few tourists have ever seen.
Up until now, I had done 850 (often challenging) kilometers without any incident. The journey was beautiful, but I could see why the locals advise against it. It’s just very hot, very rough, and mostly quite secluded.
It was so far that I starting running low on gas. I found a hut with the ultimate symbol of “fuel” in the Philippine provinces: A row of 1 liter Coke bottles, full of green gas. After buying 10 litters of “Coke” for my thirsty Kawasaki, I snapped a photo of the nice sales girl and continued on my way.
Breakdown (In the Middle Of Nowhere)
It was about 2 hours later, and I was really in the middle of nowhere. Suddenly I saw a Caterpillar backhoe working in the dirt ahead of me. I slowed down and was signaled through by the young guy assisting the operator. I smiled and waived as I passed by, and that seemed to catch him off guard. His serious “work face” suddenly broke into an ear-to-ear grin, and he waived back at me.
I continued out of sight up the next ridge, and just then I heard a loud “clunk!!” come from my bike. Suddenly I couldn’t accelerate anymore. I came to a halt right there on the steep dirt hill. When I looked down, I noticed that my chain had come off.
I somehow managed to turn the bike around and coast back down toward the workers on the next ridge. When they saw me pushing the bike and waiving, they quickly ran down to meet me.
In a mixture of broken English and Tagalog, we were able to communicate what needed to be done. Amazingly, these guys just happened to have the tools needed to put the chain back on–and in the middle of nowhere!
They were nice as can be. We became friends as they quickly got my “trusty stallion” back on the road...but they told me it would be wise to ride to their house up the road so they could properly oil the chain. That was very kind of them, too.
(Continued below...but I'd be honored if you follow along with me on FB)
When I arrived at their nipa house, they laughed when I asked where the C.R. (bathroom) was. They just smiled and pointed to the trees along the edge of the property. I should have known better. It’s nature’s way. I snapped this photo of their native house:
I wanted to leave them with a bit money for their effort, I mean, they really saved me out there! How lucky I was that they were there, after all that time riding and not seeing a single person or structure. They refused any kind of payment many times, but I kept insisting, so eventually they reluctantly accepted.
Thank you so much kuya Noli, Gerry, and Ronnie! They asked that I text them when I made it safely back to Puerto Princesa. People in the Philippines are generally wonderful.
(Note: It is a bit misleading to call what happened a "breakdown"...nothing actually broke. The chain simply came off, which is quite common if you ride long enough. Simple fix for those who own motorbikes.)
The Longgggg Dirt Road Ahead
Once I was back on the road, I had no problems at all. Well, apart from the verrrry long rest of the ride back. Roads like the one above require quite a bit of concentration to ride, especially on a bike like mine. It was hours and hours (and hours) of careful riding in the hot sun. I was already exhausted and sore by the time I reached Taytay.
I had been through Taytay before, but a new Australian friend told me to check out the old Spanish fort on the water there. I’m so glad I did! It was well worth the small admission price. Great for photos, especially on a nice day.
Fort Santa Isabel Photos
It is said that Taytay was ruled by a monarch king before the arrival of the Spanish. The king was waited on hand-and-foot by 10 scribes. After being conquered by the Spanish, Taytay became the capital of Palawan (then known as Paragua) in 1818.
Historic Taytay fort, known as Fuerza de Santa Isabel, was built in 1667. I think it was only 20 pesos to visit. I loved seeing the artifacts in the museum, as well as the colorful tropical flowers along the outside walls.
(Click photos for more info about historic Taytay Fort)
You can still see the chapel and vintage military equipment, such as the canons they used to fight off Moro invaders. Such a fascinating place, I can't believe I didn't know about it on my previous trips to Palawan!
When I wrapped up my tour, I came back to find this little man trying to steal my bike! Haha...JK, that's not mine. Have you already forgotten what my motorbike looks like?
One Wrong Turn is One Too Many
You’d think I would just stay there in Taytay, knowing how exhausted I was after this epic day of riding. The problem was that I was still hours away from Puerta Princesa, where I had an early flight the next morning. I basically had no choice but to push through. I stopped at an eatery near the turnoff to Puerto.
There was a roundabout, and it sent the road in 4 different directions. Confused and with no sign, I asked the woman at the eatery which direction I needed to go. She pointed to the same road I suspected.
Now, as a general rule, when traveling in another country, I always ask 3 separate people for directions…and make sure they all give the same answer before I follow it. This helps avoid language barrier issues, or just those times when people want to give you some kind of answer instead of admitting that they don’t know (you'd be surprised how often this happens).
Well, I went outside and asked a worker on the street as well. He pointed to the same road, so because I didn’t have a third person to ask (and I thought it was the right way already), I continued on my way. I couldn’t wait to be back in Puerto resting.
I was making good time…about 50 kms down the road when I noticed a tour bus that said “Puerto Princesa” pass the opposite direction. Wait a minute...if that bus was going to Puerto Princesa, that meant I had been going the wrong way for 50kms already! I was heartbroken.
I had to turn around and head all the way back to Taytay…adding an extra 100kms to my trip home. This is why I always ask THREE separate people. Haha.
Very, Very Happy To Get To Pagdayon Traveler's Inn
Anyhow, after many long, dark hours, I finally made it back to Puerto Princesa. I was mentally and physically destroyed. I limped into a native-styled guest house that caught my eye when I arrived the first time. The owner was also very kind, and even recognized me from the blog! What a small world.
It was called Pagdayon Traveler’s Inn, and it's really a great value. I think I paid 900 pesos ($18) for an aircon room with a private bathroom, veranda, and 2 beds. There was a particularly good breakfast included the next morning as well. Oh, and it's so close to the airport.
If you're lucky enough to catch the owner himself, he's very nice, and can provide a wealth of information about touring Palawan. Famished, I asked for advice on where to eat dinner, and he pointed me to KaLui restaurant, right across the street. Man, am I happy I listened to him...
KaLui Restaurant Photos
(Click photos for more info)
Wow. KaLui is such a beautiful place. I have no idea how they manage to keep their prices so reasonable. The ambience is warm and inviting, with native styling and artwork surrounding you. Expect to see a lot of tourists, because this is the #1 restaurant in Puerto Princesa. I can see why–the seafood was delicious and the experience is worth every penny.
I'm more of a traveler than a tourist, so I don't always have room (or money) for souvenirs. However, I was visiting friends after this trip, so I decided to check out some of the handicrafts made by local Palawan tribes. So cool, and surprisingly affordable! This is very close to KaLui as well.
Before I knew it, my epic day of travel was behind me, and I was snoozing back at the inn.
I’ll never forget this trip. 1000 (accident-free!) kilometers around one of the most breathtaking tropical islands in the world–truly the ride of a lifetime. Big thanks to all who made it possible, and all of you following along. If you have any questions about this trip, feel free to let me know.
Stay tuned on FB for the next big adventure!
By the way, and the Philippines has excellent budget flights available. I flew to Manila from Singapore for just $40, and to to the paradise of Palawan from Manila for just $25! You can scan for the best deals HERE.
- Nathan Allen
*Aside from the tiny issue of my chain coming off (it happens to all motorbikes occasionally), my Kawasaki performed flawlessly on this trip. Started up every time, and I never had so much as a flat tire. It was very generously provided by www.rent-a-bike.ph, just steps from the Puerto Princesa airport. It's the ONLY place I know of where you can choose & reserve a reliable bike online before your trip. Highly recommended.
Thanks for reading, and feel free to share!
Like my page to follow along with me:) - Nathan
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