Fresh from our duel with the bats of Callao Caves and well rested from our “Hotel” which i always say with vigor since it’s a first for financially anemic Marky, Shar and I to be able to stay in one. We arose early at 6am bright as a chipper with Shar as an exemption because she trodded with all the gracefulness of a drunken zombie when she took her long blissful shower. We all savored the bathroom because we had the premonition that for the next few days we will have to do it “macho-style” and forgo the use of soap and modern plumbing.
Checked out and decked out we bought things like a can opener which is surprisingly hard to find, water in an amount equivalent to the monthly rain-fall in Abu Dhabi, the Bar in an amount equivalent to the monthly rainfall in Ecuador, cooking oil, canned goods and bread. All together we rode the van for 3hrs passing by the famous Port Irene and the last Kilometer Mark “642 KM” in Sta. Ana, Cagayan, enjoying the beautiful sights on the way with views of bridges and river ways. We reached San Vicente Port where we chartered a boat for 800Php two-way, the ride is leisurely (if you assume thrilling amusement park rides) and short at only about 30 mins long, although going during the rainy season is ill-advised since the boat will only be able to take you to the nearer face of the island and forcing you to enjoy the 4hr hike to Cape Engaño and the isolated beach on the other side.
Arriving at Palaui Island where there are houses and families populating the nearer side of the beach you will then need to sign up at the Navy Detachment to prove that you are not a poacher or an Olympic Taiwanese illegal immigrant. Supporting the local economy and preventing the likely event of us getting lost we hired two friendly guides named Dominic and Pierre who said it will take us two hours to hike to the other side of the island. Multiply 2hours by two and that’s how long it is.
December in the Philippines is considered a “cold/rainy” season where the cloudy days are punctuated by sporadic bursts of rain. We experienced light drizzles whilst walking which was a blessing but also rendered the ground muddy and gave it the consistency of Chocolate Cake, my feet swathed in nothing but flip-flops gleefully enjoyed the hike going up and around the mountains and enjoying breathtaking views and walking on the isolated beach with a kick-ass soundtrack comprised of 70’s punk songs on my mind.
Enchanted by the Pacific Ocean’s brutal waves which we saw flatten out at our empty campsite we then proceeded to fix up our belongings and cook our meals, Survivor style indeed we were all alone with isolation and prayed no one in our group turned rogue and decided it would be fun to roast a human marshmallow. After wrestling with Marky‘s new tent which required a B.S. Math degree to assemble, We cooked our traditional bacon and sausages and feasted on freshly boiled crabs which was offered to us at 200Pesos for a whole big pot. Our dinner was punctuated with alcohol plus the shimmering stars serving as our disco ball and the rushing waves providing the beat. Marky also played tunes with his phone whose “New-Age” lyrics my young brain could not comprehend. We all tried to sleep but failed miserably hence we didn’t wait for dawn to arrive when we started to make breakfast. I cooked Palm Corned Beef with Cheese Whiz on Toasted bread which was enjoyed by us and was prematurely finished by Dominic’s dog. All things and trash packed up and with us stinky we hiked early to Cape Engaño where it could be reached from our beach for only 30mins, again it would be wise to multiply that number by two.
Enjoying Palaui’s Cape Engaño, the ruins of what seemed to be a magnificent place eroded by time but it was still beautiful. A 360 degree view of the island could be appreciated here, A brief rest maximized by our picture-taking and we then set off for the 4 hour hike back to the Navy Detachment where our boat will be waiting for us, to motivate myself i just thought that this was the Amazing Race and i had to speed up my pace lest i lose and would have to ride the boat’s outrigger. Good thing Palaui’s sights was more than enough of a morale booster that my only distraction was too much rubber-necking at the beautiful sights to see.
Perhaps my only handicap was wearing slippers, although it was convenient to be able to take it on and off at the changing terrains the ground was thorny and slippery and my feet instantly developed additional layers of callouses which was quite useful at the time. Also the fact that fore-going a bath made me less apprehensive about plunging in knee-deep mud.
Fishing for compliments? Maybe, but it was sooo good that i beat Marky by nano-seconds and i actually touched down at the town before him. Only Jay was able to beat me to the imaginary finish line that probably didn’t matter. We all enjoyed what Palaui had to offer, conquering beauty and adventure, kinda like when your girlfriend is the Ms. Universe and you are an ordinary guy. Would i go back? Definitely.