Allow me to borrow a Dickensian term to describe our birding experiences in Puerto Princesa, Palawan:
It was the best of times because we met some wonderful people whom Cynthia called "angels" (which will be the underlying theme of the subsequent blogs on Puerto Princesa). We enjoyed some good food and stayed at very relaxing hotels. Above all we added two more species to our life list and saw some gorgeous and unique birds.
It was the worst of times because even though we saw many birds we also missed most of our target species. Blame it on the rainy weather and also some bad luck. Despite the research we've made prior to our visit, there were still some glitches - like needing a permit to get to the Underground River in Sabang. We thought that this could be obtained by the local hotels inasmuch as they sponsor tours to this place as part of their packages anyway. Apparently there had been a recent change in procedures that now require potential tourists to get their permits personally from the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) office in Puerto Princesa City (a good 80 km from Sabang).
We also declined the offer to take the Mangrove Paddle Boat Tour for fear of having our cameras getting wet not just from the waves but also from the pluvial downpour. Did I mention that it was raining off and on throughout our stay in Palawan?
Despite these setbacks we still enjoyed our stay in Puerto Princesa. Even before embarking on this trip we knew there would be uncertainties and we prepared ourselves accordingly by not expecting a lot. For my wife and myself this was some sort of a "casing the joint" adventure. Based on what we went through we learned a lot that would make us more successful next time around.
As we boarded the plane to take us back to Manila we were already drawing up plans to return. When the rainy season is over.