Philippines' Palawan: A Hidden Paradise

What the Dickens is Palawan?

Ah, Palawan, that slender little finger of the Philippines reaching out towards Borneo, as if eager to bridge the gap between the two island nations. Palawan is a province that consists of 1,780 islands that together make up a natural paradise of pristine beaches, crystalline lagoons, verdant jungles, and a hodgepodge of exotic flora and fauna. Not to mention, an utterly ludicrous number of monkeys.

For those of you who are geographically challenged, or simply cannot be bothered to excavate an atlas from the dusty recesses of your memory, allow me to paint a brief picture: Palawan is situated in the western part of the Philippine archipelago, stretching from Mindoro in the northeast to Borneo in the southwest. It is essentially a tropical paradise that, for some reason, has managed to remain relatively unscathed by the ravages of mass tourism. But make haste, dear traveler, for the unrelenting march of beach umbrellas and Instagram influencers looms ever larger.

Things to Do in Palawan, Aside from Monkey-Watching

While one could easily while away their days in Palawan engaging in a veritable orgy of monkey observation, there are indeed other, perhaps more socially acceptable, activities for the discerning visitor.
  • Island Hopping in El Nido: This is an absolute must, as it provides the opportunity to visit a veritable smorgasbord of postcard-perfect islands, lagoons, and beaches. Expect to be ferried about on a traditional Filipino boat, known as a bangka, while gazing slack-jawed at the scenery and pondering whether Paradise Lost was, in fact, just a poorly written travelogue.

  • Underground River in Puerto Princesa: In the mood for something a bit more subterranean? Venture into the bowels of the earth on a guided tour of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Coron Island: For those who are less interested in spelunking and more interested in shipwrecks, Coron Island is the place to be. Here, you'll find a plethora of sunken Japanese warships, now transformed into eerie underwater museums, teeming with marine life and a palpable sense of history.

  • Dive with the Dugongs: If your preferred method of communing with nature involves cavorting with curious aquatic mammals, then head to Dugong Dive Center in Busuanga and fulfill your dreams of frolicking with these gentle giants of the sea.

Eating, Drinking, and Generally Making Merry

No trip to Palawan would be complete without indulging in the local cuisine. Expect to find a smattering of seafood so fresh it practically leaps onto your plate, seeking to abscond with your cutlery. Grilled fish, kinilaw (the Filipino version of ceviche), and various crustaceans are the order of the day, typically accompanied by a healthy helping of rice.

For those who prefer their meals to be more land-based, fear not, for there are a plethora of options available. From adobo (a fragrant mix of meat, soy sauce, and vinegar) to lechon (roast pig), the Filipino palate is nothing if not carnivorous.

And what of libations, you ask? Well, fret not, for the Philippines is a land of cheap and cheerful beer, with the local San Miguel providing enough liquid refreshment to lubricate even the rustiest of social interactions. For something with a bit more kick, why not try a swig of the local firewater, known as lambanog?

The Perils and Pitfalls of Paradise

Now, lest any of you think that I, your humble narrator, have been utterly seduced by the charms of Palawan, I feel it is my civic duty to provide a brief, albeit necessary, dose of reality. For, like any tropical paradise worth its salt, Palawan does come equipped with its fair share of hazards.

First and foremost, one must be ever-vigilant when it comes to the nefarious mosquitoes that lurk in the shadows, lying in wait for unsuspecting tourists. To protect oneself from these bloodsucking fiends, it is advisable to stock up on insect repellent and a mosquito net.

Another potential peril lies in the form of the balmy tropical heat, which, if not properly respected, can result in a nasty case of sunburn or heatstroke. Do your future self a favor and invest in a good quality sunblock and a wide-brimmed hat.

Finally, while the ocean may look like a veritable playground for the aquatic-inclined, do be aware of the potential for strong currents and occasional jellyfish lurking beneath the waves. Exercise caution and, if in doubt, ask a local for advice before wading into the azure abyss.

Conclusion: What're You Waiting For?

In conclusion, Palawan remains an idyllic oasis of natural splendor that is, quite frankly, just begging to be explored. Whether you're in search of white sand beaches, lush tropical jungles, or simply a seemingly endless supply of monkeys, Palawan is sure to deliver. So, dust off your passport, don your finest Hawaiian shirt, and prepare to be dazzled by the Philippines" own slice of paradise.

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