05 April 2012

CoRon and Irene (Isla Culion)

Sunrise at Culion
I'm a history buff. Lucky for me, Irene shares the same passion for old stuff as me. She suggested we visit Culion Island, a more than an hour ferry ride from Coron and is a former leper colony. I haven't really researched anything about Culion prior to our trip aside from how to get there and where to stay. It has so much history that I'm surprised it was only recently that I found out it existed.

Corong Galeri and other tour operators offer trips to Culion Island for around Php1,150/pax. We chose to go to Culion by ourselves and that means taking the public ferry which leaves Coron Port at around 1-2PM everyday. Our extra time in the morning while waiting for the ferry was spent exploring the town and looking for a cheap place to eat. Enter Trining Bacsa.

Though a bit pricier than carinderias in Manila, Trining Bacsa was a welcome development for us having overspent on our dinners for 2 nights. I ordered their Nilagang Baka while Irene ordered Menudo. Together with 2 cups of rice and 2 bottles of Coke, our total bill was Php170. Their Menudo is the typical homemade Menudo while the Nilagang Baka has a hint of beef stew and is quite good. Trining Bacsa is located at Don Pedro street, near the public market. On the same street is Jackie's restaurant which I heard is also good and cheap.

By 1PM we were already at the pier waiting for our ferry. We were the only people in the waiting area. As it turns out, there's no need for waiting since we can already board the ferry. Thanks for the heads up people. The ferry left Coron after a short delay due to loading almost 100 sacks of rice. In about an hour and a half of water travel, you could already see the La Inmaculada Concepcion Church and Hotel Maya beside it as you approach the island. A Hotel Maya staff and a tricycle were already waiting for us when we arrived at Culion.

I booked a single room at Hotel Maya for one night at Php1,100/night a month before and just realized upon arrival that the rooms don't have air-conditioning. This didn't worry us much since our room is situated facing the coast and a cool breeze circulates our room fairly well. I also didn't realize that we booked a room without a private bathroom. Good thing the shared bathroom and shared toilets are just outside our room.

Since we were on borrowed time, set to leave early morning the next day, we hurried to the nearby Culion Museum and Archives. The museum was nice enough to accommodate us just 2 minutes before closing. The first part of the museum tour was a 20 minute video presentation showing the rich history of the island. The museum provides a glimpse of Culion's triumph over Leprosy and is essential to fully appreciate the island.

The island itself serves as a museum of sorts. Walk along the quiet roads and you'll be able to see different facilities used in the past. It's great that they have provided signs to educate tourists.

One famous landmark of Culion is the statue of Jesus on top of an eagle logo on a hill, visible miles away from Culion. I've seen pictures of it while researching, preparing for our trip, but only upon the suggestion of the hotel staff that we were made aware that you could climb it. 333 steps to be exact.

We took the challenge and braved the drizzle and what seemed like brewing rain. We reached the peak and it was priceless. The highlight of our trip. The steep steps and the strong winds would discourage most, but this was our only chance and we had to take it. Glad we did. The experience was priceless and the view was majestic.

"...In 2005, a stairway of around 333 steps was made to enable town's people and tourists to reach the Aguila."

We took our time savoring the view and at the same time hoping for the clouds to clear. But since this hope seemed improbable and with the sun sinking fast, we headed down the steps, amidst the strong winds. We walked around Culion looking for a decent place to have dinner but the town was struck with power problems (much like Coron), and we weren't able to find one and so we settled with what food Hotel Maya had to offer.

Before going back to Hotel Maya for dinner, we stopped at the adjacent church and fort for some photo ops.
Our just conquered Aguila (view from the church steps)

Irene and La Inmanculada Church

Darkness came and the power was still out. The hotel's generator only provided for a few bulbs lighting our dinner. Hotel Maya's fish steak and chopsuey was nice.

While having dinner, the lights came back and was scheduled to last till 3AM. The calming sounds of the waves made us fall asleep and didn't feel the loss of electricity 'till the beautiful Culion sunrise woke us up

Breakfast (Islands View Inn): Php150
Lunch: Php85
Tricycle to Pier: Php10
Terminal Fee (Coron Port): Php20
Ferry to Culion: Php180
Tricycle to Hotel Maya: Php12.50
Hotel Maya: Php1,100
Culion Museum: Php150
Dinner: Php190 (with 1 can of coke)
Third day TOTAL per person: Php1,347.50

Running Total (1st, 2nd, and 3rd Day): Php5,836.88

Next: CoRon and Irene (Mt. Tapyas)
Previous: CoRon and Irene (Island Tour and Maquinit Hot Springs)

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