From Port Barton we bypassed Ulugan Bay for Sabang. We stopped for only a few hours (the anchorage is exposed and rolly - even in the calm weather we had) and took a banca to the underground river mouth where we transferred to a boat paddled by our guide.
Me, happy to take a banca to the underground river.
We got to wear helmets and use a spotlight in the underground river.
The opening to the underground river.
This wasn't the best thing we saw underground - just the lightest photo.
Finished with the cave, we took Lifeline a few miles further north to anchor overnight in a more sheltered spot, before entering Malampaya Sound the next Day. Malampaya Sound is a huge, protected, grand waterway. And chockers with HUGE jelly blubbers. We ended up being anchored at the small town of Pangkol, where, guess what!, they scoop up jelly blubbers in nets, transfer them to "above ground pools" with no water - just salt. They are stacked a metre deep.
Mmm mmm. Salted jelly blubber anyone?
One of the village sari sari stores.
From Pangkol we made a foray by tricycle over dirt road (natch!) to Tay Tay on the eastern side of Palawan Island. En route we had a flat tyre and while it got fixed we inspected the nearby timber mill...
The girls on the end of this water buffalo were petite and gorgeous.
The timber mill.
The rampart of Tay Tay fort built by the Spanish in the 1600s?
Some lovely visitors from Pangkol village.
We also made another trip by "bus" 7 hrs to Puerto to extend our visas. A bus has seats facing front (remember the seats on your old school bus?) unlike a jeepney which has just two forms facing each other. Unfortunately the buses are stacked like the jeepneys (3 to a seat, people standing and more on the roof) and also have blowouts and flat tyres....(we had two on that trip). All character building, but I did decide never to travel on Palawan roads again, stupendous scenery notwithstanding.
Also in Malampaya Sound we anchored at Alligator Island where we visited some of the local expats who have set up there....and also experienced our first typhoon which crossed Palawan (yes they're not supposed to do that in May). Fortunately it wasn't fully formed and all we got was a few days of rain and 40 knots fo an hour.
An ingenious dry dock in paradise.
The view from the verandah.
And so north to Liminancong town, a fishing village.
Like many of the villages, Liminancong has a basketball court/meeting place where lots of town activities take place. Here he town's dance troupe was practising for the Tay Tay municipality fiesta. Accompanied by fierce tribal drumming they were magnificent. (They went on to win the event.) This is a picture of the back row of dancers, the lady boys, who would clearly have been happier dancing the girls' parts.
El Nido sits on the shores of Bacuit Bay. We stayed in the more protected anchorage of Corong Corong on the southern side of the peninsula, but only 10 mintes from El Nido town. Bacuit Bay is full of karst limestone islands rising straight out of the sea like those at Phang Nga Bay in Thailand or Halong Bay in Vietnam.
Matinloc Catholic Shrine on a remote island.
Wash day in paradise.
We dinghied into Cathedral Cave on Pinsail Island.
North of El Nido, around the top of Palawan to the NE are the Calamian group of Islands, including Linapacan, Coron, Culion and Busuanga as well as hundreds of others, cays and coral reefs. In these waters the US of A bombed a whole fleet of Japanese warships during WW2 and their wrecks provide lots of dive sites. An airport near Coron town on Busuanga island allows scores of divers to make diving the number one tourist activity in the area.
Though a just a tiny, stilt villagey, town, sandwiched between lush tall hills and a reefy coastline, Coron has a showy, lit up cross high above it, as well as a hollywoodesque C-O-R-O-N sign planted on a mountain behind.
Looking down on Coron town from the cross.
Looking up at the Coron town cross.
View of Coron town.
A fancy Coron Trike.
We anchored in the bay in front of Coron several times in between visiting many of the islands nearby.
The reef in front of Calambayan Is was beautiful.
Calambayan island with model.
Chris, the caretaker of Calambayan Island, with his family, came to visit Lifeline.
North Cay. Magnificent snorkelling.
Culion Island was set up as a leper colony in 1906 by the Americans when in control of the Philippines. A fascinating and beautiful place. It is still populated mostly by the remaining original inhabitants and their descendants.
Maquinit hotsprings near Coron town.
Culion town footpath up to the town square.
Culion town square.
Culion town's La Immaculada Concepcion church was built by the Spanish in the 1600s? The original coral block walls were used when it was expanded in the 1930s? And it was restored for the town's centenary in 2006.
The world class Culion museum is detailed, old style and a fascinating record of the research into leprosy. Stuffed with artefacts, it is also a moving history of the poor souls who were settled here against their wills from all over the Philippines. I put it on a par with the Sarawak museum.
Concepcion town on Busuanga Island. Another small fishing village.
Ditaytayan Island and reef.
Guyabano, my favourite fruit. Inside, white and creamy like custardapple to look at, but tastes like a combination of passionfruit, citrus and coconut and is filling and fibrous.
En route to Puerto we stopped at several beautiful islands. This is Cabalauan Island village.
Clear water at Cabalauan Island.
We bought a fish from one of the fishermen there after paddling into the island.
Our trip south was like this all the way.
Continued in part 3.
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