After the epic surfing, I paid a visit to Manila for the Tactical, Survival and Arms Expo, and then flew further to Coron in order to do come cruising in Filipino waters. A thorough analysis of the risk picture for the current situation made me take the decision not to cruise further to East or South, and instead explore the area near Palawan which is considered to have the most beautiful spots in the country.
There are multitudes of flights from Manila and Cebu to pick for going to Busuanga/Coron. Flights offer awesome views of the isles. Here are some more photos from sailing, kayaking, and exploration of the islands and the sea! An outline of the isles can be seen on this one. Click or scroll to keep on reading.
|A hot day, and a windy one too.|
The forest fires near Coron airport were spreading due to the heat and the wind, so the tiny airport coach was sometimes driving through thick smoke. I've ridden a car through forest fires before, and it's not a great experience, especially when trees are falling across the road, aflame. I was in a NGV car and was not very amused, but what do you do - turn around by driving out on burning grass? It was on the border of Russia and Chechnya, and I trusted the local traditions of ignoring the danger and pushing on. It all went fine. A bit more about recent fires in the US here.
As I finally arrived at the dock, the last rays of sun were disappearing over the warm sea that rocked Philippine's iconic ever-present bangka boats, quietly going to sleep. They'll be up at sunrise, getting out for fishing, or driving tourists to beautiful beaches and diving spots. There are many interesting routes to choose, from a half a day to several. But I was going to do my own, in a ketch rather than bangka.
Morning comes and colors everything blue, the lush green cliffs at the horizon are hiding beautiful lagoons and coves. We sail off as soon as possible!
The coast has several outstanding diving spots, some with interesting wrecks and formations, and it's also possible to snorkel some of the shallower wrecks. It's a very short sail to Kayangan Lake, with a beautiful yet a bit treacherous approach past the Neptune Wall which is great for diving. There's a protected anchorage there, so take the dinghy in and visit the lake. The water is brackish, and it's possible to take a swim as long as you leave the life vest on (you get one at the start of the path). The admittance closes at the afternoon. All of those precautions are due to some swimmers/divers drowning mysteriously. The locals consider this a place of natural powers, and treat it with respect and a bit of caution.
|Approach to the start of the path leading to Kayangan Lake|
|Bangkas are lining the quay|
|The best way to come is in between the tourist groups arriving morning and just past lunch|
|Hard to capture the beauty of the lake, here's a view of the cliffs above. Bring a snorkel to watch the formations underwater!|
|There are bathing steps, and many tourists are threading the water, clad in lifevests.|
|Beautiful small fish inhabit the lake, but the corals are dead.|
Palawan's coastal beauty is not only the white beaches and blue water, but the steep dark-gray cliffs, covered with lush greenery. The volcanic rocks make up the formations that are not very usual to other places. Watch out for coral heads as you are sailing close to the cliffs! It's better to go with a sea kayak, or at least with a dinghy. Also, keep a close watch for sea farms and fishing gear.
The Filipino food can be great at times, and I survived on green coconut (called "Buko"), and the local favorite Chicharron. I will try to make some Lechon Kiwali at home, it's a great comfort food. Not much fresh milk can be found in Philippines, some is directly imported from France, but most is UHT tetras from OZ and NZ, or "coffee whitener", a powder that has never seen milk in its entire life. I'd bring proper dehydrated milk for my coffee next time I'd sail there.
Finally, a few general photos from Coron and the area.
|Green coconut getting ride inside of the sea kayak on deck|
|Traces of a large lizard on the beach|
|Coral beach, Coron, Palawan|
|Bird of prey over the lush forest|
|Straw house near the waterfron|
|Cats and dogs found everywhere. This one has the typical tropical shape!|
|Ready on deck|
|Sun rise over the mountains|
|Coron City at night|
|Coron harbour seen from mountain Tapyas, a perfect run in the early morning|
|More views from Mt Tapyas|