There’s quite a lot of reasons for me to book a trip to Coron.  One, the airfare was on promo. Two, I wanted to understand the dynamics of solo travel. Three, Coron is in my bucket list. Four, I wanted to pamper myself on my birthday. Initially I was conflicted but I booked anyway before I could change my mind (again).

I only informed a select few of my plans because I’m afraid that they’d plant seeds of doubts. But as the actual travel date drew closer, I started feeling a bit giddy. On the week of my travel, a typhoon struck the country which further enhanced the monsoon rains. This made me feel nervous but I never got any notice of cancellation from the airline. So I guess it is all a go.

July  9, four days after my 26th birthday, is my travel date. The day started gloomy with the rain clouds making their ominous presence felt. But still, I got no notification from the airline so I proceeded as planned, packing my things before going to the airport two-hours earlier than the scheduled check-in time. I was afraid I would miss my flight.

This is starting to feel so surreal. I really don’t know what kind of courage made me push through with the rest because I felt backing out till the very last minute. Aside from travelling solo for the first time, this is just going to be my second time to fly on a plane. To appease my mind, I informed my housemate of this travel because I never really told them that I will be travelling alone. I never even told my parents about it. 🙂

Our flight got rescheduled for one hour. Maybe this is a sign that I should just put this plan to a premature end. But still, I waited and tried foolhardy to keep myself at bay. I am a bit terrified of flying on these rainy conditions but the other planes were pushing through as planned so I guess it is safe.

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A view of the town center and Coron island from Mt. Tapyas.

A couple minutes past 1 PM, all passengers boarded the plane. Upon sitting down I muttered prayers for the safety of our flight. The conditions weren’t on my side. Then the time came for the plane to take-off. This still feels absurd, and quite ridiculous. But hey, I am now on a plane to Coron, on my own, on a rainy day.

 

I got a window seat but I can barely see land because of the fast moving clouds that’s covering the view. The rain is battering the side of the plane. Then the plane started getting shaky as the winds became too strong for the plane to maintain its balance. I got nervous when the captain officially announced that we are in the midst of a turbulence. My inexperience in flights got the best of me as I started muttering more prayers for our safe delivery.

Luckily, He listened to my whispered prayers as after about 15 minutes in turbulence, we broke free and had an uneventful flight. After an hour from taking of from Manila, we finally landed on Francisco B. Reyes Airport in Busuanga, the entrance to the northern isles of Palawan. Whew. I sure did breathe a sigh of relief upon landing.

From the airport, I got transported to my accommodation. It took about an hour to reach my lodging on the outskirts of the town. I booked and paid my lodging through Agoda. Ricardo Valley Inn is a relatively new establishment and is quite clean. The downside, however, is that most locals are unfamiliar about it, including the tricycle drivers, so I always ended up telling them where it is or alighting way before my lodging. But with too much time to spare, I didn’t mind.

As I have a scheduled tour at 3PM, I quickly settled myself down. I looked above and the weather is still a bit downcast but I am still hoping for a grand time in my four-day stay. When I got picked up by my tour group, everyone was incredulous when I told them I am travelling alone. Nonetheless, we took up immediately as though we’re old friends.

Our tour group is comprised of eight individuals, including the tour guide, whose name I forgot. As always, the first part is introduction. Bryan and Zander are Cebu Pacific employees and are travelling together. Howie and Stef are working together in a maritime foundation that sponsors prospective seamen. Ironically, their company’s payroll provider is my current employer. Haha. The last pair is a couple, Iris and Jhomar. This is Jhomar’s early birthday gift to his girlfriend. Talk about birthday gifts. 🙂

The first part of the tour is a drive through the town center, including the pasalubong center, the reclamation site with a view of the real Coron island, the municipal hall and the main place of worship. Upon passing the large clay pot monument on the town hall, our tour guide informed us that the term Coron came from the tribal term “Corong” meaning earthen clay pot. The earthen clay pot is also the town’s major symbol.

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Coron sign on Mt. Tapyas rivals that of the Hollywood sign on Mt. Lee. 🙂

After a brief run through of the town, we went to Mt. Tapyas, the major viewpoint of Coron. To get to the top, one must climb through 721 steps. A great warm-up for my solo adventures. Good thing I am used to climbing. To my surprise, I met a familiar face when we trekked those 721 steps. I met a former office mate who was also on a Coron tour with her college classmates.

When we reached the peak of Mt. Tapyas, we were exhilarated by the sight. From the peak, one can see an overview of the town, and of the actual Coron island. Our tour guide said that on a certain angle, the mountains of the island form the figure of a male and female sleeping giants, and the only way to distinguish which is which is to look for a certain phallic figure. 🙂

On the peak, there is a big cross that dominates the entire place. It was destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan when it passed by the town but fortunately, the townsmen were able to restore it to its former glory. This is also a testament of the Filipino’s resilience.

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The perks of travelling alone – getting to meet new friends. On the course of my stay, I’d get to know more fellow travelers.

Our last stop for the day is Maquinit Hot Spring. To get there, we had to travel for around 30 minutes from the tip of Mt. Tapyas because it is located at the farthest point of the town. Maquinit Hot Spring is quite renowned for being the only saltwater hot spring in the country and one of two in Asia.

Growing up in a place surrounded by hot springs, I enjoy a quick dip on the scalding waters. It’s a good therapy for the tired body and after that Mt. Tapyas trek, wow, it feels great. Upon initial entry, the waters scorch the skin but a couple minutes later, the heat becomes tolerable. There are three pools of varying temperatures but the main pool had the most tolerable waters.

After thirty minutes of dipping, we then ended our trip. But not yet, my newfound friends and I agreed to a group dinner at Coron Lobster just after our tour. While waiting for our dinner, we got acquainted more as we shared a couple of personal anecdotes. As I am not a fan of sea foods, I felt happy that my new friends are understanding enough of my peculiarity. 🙂 I tried the crab soup though and the fish but it didn’t change my mind on sea foods.

Overall, my first day in the island is great. Never thought that a turbulent start would end with a promise. I still had to slap myself once or twice to wake me up from this dream, but hey, this is now my reality. I traveled to Coron alone but now I have seen a new place and gained new friends. The rain started falling, however, as I started fervently praying that it will stop so that my scheduled tour the next day won’t be cancelled. And luckily for me, He listened. 😉

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A shameless selfie to end the day 😉

 

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