Sunday, May 5, 2013

Coron Revisited: Of Delayed Flights, Quiet Digs and A 700-Step Ascent for Sunset

Coron - Mt. Tapyas Sunset View of Smoke and Karsts IV
Sunset at Mt. Tapyas
For the first time in a long time, we'll be flying at midday, on a Monday yet.  That meant I had to run after taxis, competing with late office workers and had to settle for a contracted private vehicle moonlighting as a taxi.  The queues at T3 were long.  We tried checking-in via the Cebu Pacific computerized kiosks but found out that their turbo props were not included in the scheme.  The air conditioning in all areas of the terminal seemed non-existent.  We decided to use the remaining 15 minutes of waiting time prior to departure to have a quick meal which proved a smart decision as the perennial runway congestion resulted in a succession of delays.

It would be almost another two hours before we can take off aboard a Cebu Pacific plane that shared the airport's tropical clime.  Gaining altitude with the cabin remaining hot, the announcement of cold bottled water available for sale onboard seemed like a timely sales pitch rather than comforting news to hot and sweaty passengers.  Ahhh, traveling can really be more fun in the Philippines.
Coron - Mt. Tapyas Sweeping Sunset View of Karsts
Admiring the lay of the land past the view decks
It was past four when we landed in Busuanga, late for a scheduled city tour sponsored by our host, Coron Ecolodge.  Pity the micro-vacationer, he with the the 3-days, 2-nights arrangement as the delay has already abbreviated an already short trip.  Makes me wonder how many tourists feel short-changed as the Manila airport runway is simply not adequate to handle the increasing traffic and the delays have a domino effect on the rest of the day's flights.

700 steps up to sundown.  After dropping off our bags at the Coron Ecolodge, we headed off to Mt. Tapyas for a glimpse of the sunset.  The good weather was at least holding.  My first time in Coron, way back in 2007 for a magazine assignment, was rainy.  It would be nice to see the town and adjoining islands glowing in the vestiges of a warm afternoon for a change.  Between the ground and a marvelous sunset panorama is a 700 step flight of stairs -- welcome exercise for the afternoon or a test of aging knees depending on your state of health and disposition.
Coron  - Mt. Tapyas Top Deck Cross and Dramatic Trees at Night
A different look when night falls
Going past the view decks, we evade the noisy crowds to contemplate on a scenery too beautiful for words, too majestic for just a cursory 10-minute admiration.  Staying well after darkness fell and all the crowds dissipated, the blue-pink-yellow hues were displaced by the twinkling of innumerable stars -- a bigger than life planetarium enhanced by a clear, cloudless, ink-black sky.
Coron - Ecolodge Facade
Facade of the two-storey Coron Ecolodge
Ecolodging.  After a filling, cheap and delicious dinner at Lolo Nonoy's, we came back to the Coron Ecolodge where we are staying for the rest of our time in Coron.  I would like to think that its location, a street away from the main road and consequently, away from noisy establishments, is its strongest asset.  Bereft of noise for most of the day and all night save for the occasional politico recorida as it was the height of the campaign for the upcoming elections, I guess you can't pay enough for some peace and quiet.
Coron - Ecolodge Room
No-frills, clean digs at Ecolodge
The rooms are basic but clean.  The air conditioner is new, the bed with the pillows, blankets and sheets comfy enough.  In the toilet and bath, the water heater is also relatively new.  Running water can be scarce especially at day's end when the guests return en masse from their tours and decide to shower at the same time.  The lobby-cum-dining area is light and airy, thanks to floor to ceiling openings.  The Wi-fi signal is steady and reliable in the dining area.  While we weren't able to sample the meals apart from the breakfast buffet (which is simple but good), we heard grumbles from other guests that the service can be faster.  However, the staff members are very friendly and helpful without being overzealous -- definitely a strong asset.

Information:  Coron Ecolodge is located at Calle Real, Brgy. Poblacion 2.  A double standard bedroom with hot and cold shower, cable TV, free wi-fi (lobby only) and standby power costs P1,890 per night.  For more info/to book, visit www.coronecolodge.com or call 0906 4556090 (Globe) or 0919 2048824 (Smart)

Coron - Kayangan View of Entrance Karst Next on Lagal[og]:  
Return to Coron: A Liveaboard Kind of Day

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