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Patrick Love Photography bio picture

Simply put,

I love carrying around a camera, and trying to get people to look into the lens.

Monthly Archives: May 2012

Puerto Princesa / Honda Bay, Philippines Travel Photography

Puerta Princesa is more a hub than a destination.  Located almost in the middle of the Palawan Peninsula.  To the north, lay some of the best scuba diving locations, resorts, islands and beaches that the Philippines has to offer.  To the south… well nobody knows for sure.  Almost nobody goes there.  It’s just untouched nature and perfect empty beaches.  Going south far enough will take you straight into Borneo.

Places that serve good food are close to my heart.  Puerto Princesa serves the best food I’ve had in the Philippines.  KaLui and La Terrase served up dishes and drinks that you simply can’t get anywhere else.

We stayed at the Palo Alto Bed and Breakfast.  They do the whole, shoes-not-allowed-shiny-hardwood-floors-everywhere thing.  The owners were very friendly.  I would stay there again.

I was pretty skeptical about doing the Honda Bay tour.  I figured that there would be too many people, mediocre beaches, and snorkeling with uninspiring coral and fish.  Turns out that I was mostly wrong!  There were a lot of people.  However, the beaches were nice, and the fish and coral were actually pretty good.  Living in the Philippines has really spoiled me.  I’m not as easily impressed with tropical beaches, as I was when I lived in WA.

I was seriously wanting to go out on this makeshift  dock.  After giving it some thought, I realized that I would likely be the heaviest person who had ever trusted it.  I gave it a miss.

Yellow Fin Tuna – The boat captain told me that he could catch about 10 on a good day.

It was a holiday, so I came across my first cock fight ever!  Notice that the Filipino version ties 4-inch “long-knives” to the roosters’ left legs.  In other countries with cock fighting, the knives are usually shorter.

(below) If you look closely, you’ll notice lots of blood squirting out.

Cock fights don’t end in draws or split decisions.

Donsol, Philippines Travel Photography

Holy Week in Donsol!  There are plenty of things to keep travelers entertained for a couple of days- a sandy beach, great food, nice locals, Holy Week festivities, firefly tours, and of course whale sharks.  The only problem is that on top of all that, it gets seriously packed with visitors.

Donsol is a little bit like the guy who won the lottery, but becomes a victim of his own success.  Locals have not yet found a way to manage the wealth of visitors who want to explore all the great things that Donsol can offer.  Instead, of experiencing a peaceful stroll through Donsol’s wonders, crowds of visitors experience traffic jams and pushing mobs of other visitors as everyone vies for his or her own piece of the pie.  Come back next year and you will find that they’ve paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.  I’ll explain more on that later.

(above) I recommend that you stay at the Elysia Beach Resort.  It has a nice courtyard, seen here, and it’s on one of the nicer stretches of beach.  Not exactly budget lodging though.  A huge bonus is that it is right next door to the BARracuda restaurant.  Hands down the best restaurant in Donsol, and one of the top-five best restaurants I’ve eaten at in the Philippines.  Go early (6pm) and have a reservation.  The first night, we went early and had great service and food.  The second night, we made a later reservation, and service and food were very slow, but the food was still great.

(above and below) Firefly tour – This is what a Nikon D700 with a 24 or 35/1.4 can do at iso 6400.  Our guide told me that she had never seen anyone successfully take a picture of the fireflies.

Holy Week – Good Friday Procession in Donsol

While the Philippines loves Holy Week, Holy Week has to be the whale shark’s least favorite holiday.  There are rules for whale shark encounters, but as you can guess, those all get thrown out the window.  It’s pretty much guaranteed that if you do see a whale shark, it will have almost 30 boats and 50+ people swimming right on top of it.  I can handle swimming with a crowd of people, but it really upset me to see people swimming up against the sharks, touching the sharks, or taking pictures from so close that the shark would have to change direction.  Too see people stressing the animals out, and making them work just that much harder for survival really bums me out.

Secondly, because they are being treated so poorly, shark sightings during Holy Week go way down.  Sharks have to go somewhere else, which puts even more stress on them.  Boats will only take visitors on 3-hour tours, and every day at least 2/3 of the tour groups would come back without seeing any sharks!  My group had to go out on two tours, just to be able to swim briefly with two sharks.  When it’s not Holy Week, people report usually seeing about 5-10 sharks per trip, in uncrowded surroundings.

Donsol for Holy Week? – My advice is go elsewhere.

Clara Poblador - Good day! I am a student of tourism at the University of the Philippines Diliman. I am required to write a paper for my major on travel photography tours in the Philippines. Do you arrange travel photography tours? Is it okay to know all the details of these tours and some itineraries as well? Thank you very much! :)February 18, 2013 - 2:25 am