Tuesday, April 18, 2006

CLUB NOAH, PALAWAN – DAY 1 (Journey to the Resort)

When we finally landed (after a few minutes of turbulence as we descended) at the Taytay airport on the dirt runway, we were greeted by some staff from Club Noah, including Rose, our activities director. The airport was a tiny hut with a CR (bathroom), little stands where women were selling woven bags, cashews, and banana chips, and several stray dogs.

[The sprawling expanse of the TayTay Rodriguez airport]


[Airport dog]


Rose and Grace (another girl from Club Noah) offered us pandacil (bread) and iced tea. Doesn’t this sound peaceful? Well… it was. However, I forgot to mention that there were also 4-5 soldiers in camouflage and carrying guns as big as they were with large belt packs full of extra ammunition. (I think if you shoot somebody with a gun that big, you really don’t need extra ammunition, but I’m not going to argue).

[Small men...Big guns]


[Kendra outside the airport by our air and sea transport]


The guards were passing the time by weighing themselves on the luggage scale. I was standing off to the side because they really did scare me. One of the friendly guards (I have noticed even in Makati, some are really very friendly and some are very aloof which makes them even more intimidating) came over to me and told me he was 150 pounds only but he is 180 pounds on the scale with all of his equipment. This didn’t make me feel better, and I told him that he made me feel scared. He seemed very surprised and said, “Ma’am, it is for your safety. I am your security.” I thanked him, and told him it is hard for me to get used to all the guns all the time, and that it doesn’t seem like anything will hurt us out here. But I didn’t ask him what he was protecting us from. I was glad he was a friendly guy at least.

[91.5 lbs, if you were wondering]


Before too long, we climbed into a jeepney (our luggage was loaded into a separate vehicle to be delivered straight to our cabanas). The soldiers sat on top of the jeepney. We were across from a couple and their baby son. He was originally from Cleveland but was now an expat in Japan and his wife was Italian. They were going to meet her family at the resort, and were really nice to talk to. The baby was really cute and slept in his carrier through much of our 3 step adventure getting to the resort. We chatted with some of the other passengers as well. There were two from Japan and a few Filipinos.

[Kendra in the Jeepney -Our first Jeepney ride...a true Filipino experience!]

[Our armed guards riding on the roof]


[The guards were on the roof because there were already 4 people in the front seat.]


The jeepney drove through some pretty remote and isolated forest. There was the occasional little hut, fields, water buffalo, goat or stray dog, but other than that, nothing. We stopped at a small clearing and walked over the water through some cool swamp trees with neat roots over some 2 X 4’s and sections of bamboo that were lashed together to form a narrow bridge. This would be the first of many times throughout our trip that Tim and I would be a little worried about the makeshift bridges/ladders/etc. being able to hold us and the first of many “Please watch your head”’s.


We all boarded into a small motorboat and were brought to a larger boat which was an outrigger style. I had to ask Tim what they were called, so I’ll describe it as well. It is basically a long, narrow boat with a cabin and a roof deck with benches along the edges. Off to the sides of the main part of the vessel are two large wing-like attachments, which I believe help to balance the boat in the water. All of the ones we saw were painted baby blue. We meandered through the river and then the sea in this boat, armed guards in tow.

[Tim’s note: For a good mental picture of the whole environment, think of the jungle/river boat scenes in Apocalypse Now].

Again, we were impressed with the vivid color of the sky, the water, and the intense sunlight. It was very relaxing. We laid on the roof with the Japanese couple and the Cleveland/Italian/Japanese family and soaked up the sunlight. The friendly soldier and Rose were on the high roof of the cabin. Tim took his picture and the he was very happy and shook Tim’s hand and said “Thank you” (as many people seem to do here when you take their picture).


[This baby had become an experienced world travelor before he turned 3 years old.]


[M16's on the High Seas]


[But they're all really nice guys...the 'V' hand thing means "handsome" or beautiful - see the pics of the girls.]


The scenery on the trip was really incredible. We were going through a dark green fresh water river and then crossed into the beep blue of the salt water ocean. We also passed innumerable little islands on the way. The intense green and slate gray rock of the islands against the sparkling water make the whole scene kind of surreal. We have experienced this type of strange and alien terrain shock once before – when we went to the Sedona area of Arizona for our 4th wedding anniversary. It at first overwhelms you to see that starkly different terrain and colors of the area, and for at least a day, you look at literally every cactus and red rock you pass. We did this for a while with every fish and island and tree.

Eventually, I adjusted to the change in scenery and stopped looking all the time, but Tim kept looking and photographing, and so we have so many beautiful pictures of it. He especially loved the colorful fish that swam under our cabin. He would sit on our balcony and look at the fish for a long time and wait for the shark to come. But – I am getting ahead of myself… more about that later.

[One of the loose life jackets blew off in the stiff headwind. One of the boat workers crawled out on the outriggers and snagged it as the driver made a U-Turn]


[Kendra and our Activities Director, Rose]



When we were nearing the resort, we transferred again to a smaller boat and were taken to the Octagon pier and we were on land! We walked on the little bridge past the crystal clear water and the cabanas for couples on our left and the caves in the cliff face on our right. We headed for the beach where we had a welcome drink of mixed juices and an orientation to the island.


Links:

[Palawan Summery]

[1] Palawan, Club Noah, Day 1 (Airport and Flight)
[2] Palawan, Club Noah, Day 1 (Journey to the Resort) [You are Here]
[3] Palawan, Club Noah, Day 1 (Activities)
[4] Palawan, Club Noah, Day 2 (Easter Sunday)
[5] Palawan, Club Noah, Day 3 (Bottom Fishing and Trekking)
[6] Palawan, Club Noah, Day 3 (Lunch and Cave Tour)
[7] Palawan, Club Noah, Day 4 (Departure and Return Trip)

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