Friday, December 30, 2016

What's in a (Business) Name? Malaysia Again

Bread  and batter is their bread and butter.
Spotted in Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA2).

For more amusing business names, please visit Go Random.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Mini Guide: Port Barton in San Vicente, Palawan

Port Barton is a barangay in the municipality of San Vicente in Palawan. It is about 145 km northwest of Puerto Princesa.

Go

From Puerto Princesa
From Puerto Princesa, there are two shuttle companies that go to Port Barton:
  • SBE 0928 765 2181
    • Puerto Princesa to Port Barton 830AM / 130PM / 4PM
    • Port Barton to Puerto Princesa 630AM / 10AM / 130PM
  • Recaro 0998 569 4871
    • Puerto Princesa to Port Barton 730AM / 9AM / 11AM / 2PM / 4PM
    • Port Barton to Puerto Princesa 630AM / 10AM / 130PM
Fare is Php 250 and travel time is 3 hours. For some reason, foreigners are charged Php 350. And Recaro, when I called, said fare was Php 300 (Php 350 if picked up from airport). The shuttle vans will drop you off at your accommodation in Port Barton.

Heads up! From Puerto Princesa to the turn off for Port Barton is smooth sailing, but from there on to Port Barton is a jiggly, wobbly, slippery, muddy (when raining) ride. Brace yourselves! It takes an hour to an hour and a half to navigate this muddy 22-kilometer road. Concreting of this road is underway and will hopefully be completed sometime 2017.

From Sabang
Port Barton can also be reached by van (Lexxus Shuttle) or pumpboat from Sabang.

From El Nido
Port Barton can also be reached by van (Lexxus Shuttle) from El Nido.

From the Poblacion of San Vicente
Although Port Barton is a barangay of San Vicente, it is kind of cut off from the municipality in the sense that there is no direct road between Port Barton and the Poblacion of San Vicente. Well, there is, but as of the moment, it is a small dirt road that only motorcycles dare use.

These are the three ways to travel between Port Barton and the Poblacion:
  • motorcycle or habalhabal through the mountains – 45 minutes, but not recommended during rainy season (June to November)
  • jeepney then shuttle van – from Port Barton take a jeepney to Roxas (Php 100, 1.5 hours, leaves Port Barton between 8AM to 9AM) then at Roxas terminal take a shuttle van to San Vicente (Php 120, 1 hour)
  • pumpboat – Php 1500 for up to 4 pax, 1 hour.
Stay
Sorry to disappoint you, but I don't have a list of accommodations for Port Barton. There are a lot! But I do recommend the place I stayed in: Divinagracia Cottages [Mrs Julie Divinagracia 0912 543 0983 / Ms Avon Divinagracia 0947 424 8584]. It's not beachfront, but a one–minute walk to the beach. It is that close! 

Divinagracia's native cottage

The room on the ground floor of Divinagracia's concrete building

Divinagracia Cottages has two native cottages and two rooms in the new concrete building. Each room is good for two persons and priced at Php 600 per room. All rooms have a fan (electricity is from 6PM to 12MN only) and an ensuite toilet and shower. Towel, toilet paper, soap, and shampoo are provided. The rooms are clean. The owners are friendly and helpful.

Eat
There are many restaurants in Port Barton, but I only had the chance to try these two:

Gacayan Restaurant
Gacayan Restaurant is said to be the cheapest restaurant in Port Barton. The food is affordable and the serving size is quite big. They have many dishes to choose from (their menu took up the entire width of one wall!).  The dishes I tried are special adobo with rice (Php 130) and shakshuka with two pieces of bread (Php 120).

Miam Miam Glou Glou
Miam Miam Glou Glou is a French Restaurant. The owner is a Cebuano from Pasil who married a Frenchman. They bake their own unsalted bread. I tried their savory crepe (Php 160), hummus (Php 120), and homemade bread.

Do
You're on vacation. Just relax and laze around on Port Barton's beach. But if you have itchy feet and can't stay put for too long, you can go island hopping or visit waterfalls.

Island Hop
There are four island hopping tours, each tour visiting three spots. Each tour costs Php 700 per person, which includes lunch, snorkel and mask, and lifevest. The tour is from 9AM to 4PM. Solo travelers can join other groups. But if you as a solo traveler are very unfortunate to not find other groups to join, you'd have to go on a private tour which would cost Php 2500 per boat.

Although only three destinations are listed for each tour, we were actually taken to: Exotic Island, Paradise Island, Starfish Island, and snorkeling in Twin Reef, Ocean Reef, and an area near German Island/Double Island where there was a sea turtle.

Exotic Island

Paradise Island

Starfish Island

Twin Reef

Sea Turtle near German Island/Double Island

Ocean Reef

Other snorkeling spots you can visit while on an island hopping trip: Aquarium Reef, Marine Sanctuary, Wide Reef, and Fantastic Reef.

Visit Waterfalls
In Port Barton, you can visit Pamuayan Falls and Bigaho Falls. Pamuayan Falls can be reached by hiking a 3.5-kilometer trail near Greenviews Resort. Bigaho Falls can be reached by taking a pumpboat to the village of Bigaho then a short 20-minute hike. Bigaho Falls is one of the spots visited by of one of the four island hopping tours offered in Port Barton.

Heads up! Visitors are required to obtain an eco–card (Php 50) which is valid for 10 days. This can be obtained from the tourist office or through the island hopping operator.



San Vicente Short:
A Mini Guide: Port Barton in San Vicente, Palawan (you're here!)
Long Beach in San Vicente (soon)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Why Fly with Flytpack

I used to travel old school: disconnected from the world, relying only on paper maps and asking strangers for directions, or just following my travel buddies around. But since I started traveling solo, I have found being connected while in another country indispensable. Not because I don't like my own company (I do! I am an introvert!), but because I felt the need to let my family know where I was and how I was doing. I know and you all know that I am no kid (just kid-sized), but my mother still worries about me. Plus I will have all my fingers pointing at me if I get hopelessly lost.

For my recent trip to Japan, I had two choices: rent a WiFi router when I arrive in Kansai airport or rent one even before my trip had begun. I chose the latter. And how? FlytpackFlytpack is a travel WiFi router you can rent out for your trip (if you're based in the Philippines). It is currently available for the Americas, Europe, and for more than a dozen Asian countries. So why Flytpack?

Pre-departure Considerations

Cheap
For the duration of my trip, renting one through Flytpack versus renting one in Japan would be Php 350 to Php 2100 cheaper (not including the Php 2800 deposit Flytpack requires of course), depending on which rental company I choose. But, hey, even with just a savings of Php 350, I could add this to my budget for one meal or something. That was the plan. And then lucky break! Flytpack sponsored the rental for the entire duration of my trip! So the budget for the rental went to my two nights accommodation! Oh yeah! Thank you very much, Flytpack!

Convenient
And then there's convenience. Because my flight was scheduled to arrive around 8PM, there was the possibility of unavailability of devices when I arrive (rental on the spot is subject to availability). Other concern was if my flight got delayed, rental kiosks when I arrive would already be closed: some kiosks close as early as 830PM, the rest at 1030PM. The other option, had I not found Flytpack, was to rent from one of the Japanese WiFi router rental companies online and have it delivered to the post office at the Kansai airport at an additional cost, but the post office closes at 5PM(!), or have it delivered to the accommodation — which meant I'd have to find my way to the accommodation without relying on Google Maps. Finding Flytpack was a godsend. I expected Flytpack to deliver the router to my doorstep a day before the trip, but it was delivered four days ahead! A great relief—I did not have to sweat it out with worry had it been scheduled for delivery just a day before departure.

User Experience

Handy
The device comes in a little denim bag, and in the little bag are the travel router, travel adapter, charging cable, and a little manual all arranged and snug in their own little compartments. The router, though not as small as other pocket WiFi routers, is still small enough to fit in the jacket or pants pocket. On the router, important information are displayed clearly on the little screen: signal, password, number of devices connected, data used for the day.

Battery Life
Although it is not as lightweight as other pocket WiFi routers, it has its reason for its added weight: it doubles as a powerbank. Not that I ever used it as a powerbank. But, point is, never did my Flytpack WiFi router run out of battery. It lasted longer than my body. At the end of every day, even as early as 6PM, I was already pooped and ready to crash on the bed, while the router was still about 60% full.

Connectivity
Up to five devices can connect to the router, but I was traveling alone with only my mobile phone to connect it to so I can't say how maximizing the number of connections allowed and how maximizing the data allocation of 1GB per day would affect its battery life. Flytpack WiFi router (whose partner in Japan is Softbank) was most useful for me to access the following apps: Google Maps/Google My Maps, transportation apps, searching for information, staying in touch with family and friends through messenger apps, and access to social media (facebook, Instagram, etc). I was connected 24/7, even in my sleep! 

Return

It says on the website that the router can either be picked up from or returned to their office or delivered to and picked up from your doorstep. What it does not state explicitly on the website is that its delivery and pickup service is only offered in Metro Manila. You will find out this little fact when you reach step two in placing your order and you can't find your city in the dropdown list. BUT they do accept orders from cities other than those listed, provided the customer shoulders the shipping expenses (delivery and return).

Since there is no pickup service provided for outside Metro Manila customers, I had to go to LBC to have it shipped (Flytpack sent me an email acknowledging they have received the device). Even with this little inconvenience, if and when I visit Japan again, I would still choose renting a WiFi router from Flytpack rather than when I arrive at my destination. Cost (even with the additional cost of shipping for outside Metro Manila, it still comes out cheaper than renting in Japan), convenience, and long battery life for the win!