Mati was only famous for 1 thing: skimboarding and partly surfing. Other than that, there wasn’t much else worth visiting for the average tourist. That was also the reason why I decided to take a 5 hour slow bus ride from Davao to arrive in Mati in the middle of the night in a rundown hostel with no other guests.
The next day I managed to fix a ride and pick up to the Dahican beach where all the action is happening. But the thing is, the waves are only good at certain times during the day. Mainly early in the morning and around 4-5 in the afternoon. I arrived there around 1-2 in the afternoon, so I just hung out for a while on the beach, walked around and took a nap.
I didn’t actually surf because the waves weren’t that optimal to me personally and I was more fascinated by the skimboarding. Mati is one of the best places for skimboarding and it’s not unusual to find the world champion skimboarding hanging out here like the average local kid.
I haven’t tried out the skimboarding myself as there were tons of “pros” around and didn’t want to make a fool of myself. But it was rather exillerating to see them catching the waves and performing tricks on the waves. The cool thing was that even the younger kids were into it. It was also the time where other people would just come hang out on the beach, eat dinner and watch the sunset.
Seeing how, there wasn’t much else to do in Mati, I decided to only stay 1 night and made my way back to Davao the next day to catch my flight to Puerto Princesa in Palawan a few days later.
It was a small coincedence that Ruby, a local couchsurfer from Davao, also had a trip to Puerto Princesa on the same day as me. She’s a freelance tour guide and she had a group to lead on the same date. One of the reasons to come to Puerto Princesa was the accessibility to the Subterranean River National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. But more on that later.
On the first night of arrival, Ruby has set to meet some of the local CS members of Puerto Princesa for dinner and a drink afterwards. And yet again, I had a blast with all of them. They welcomed me with open arms and we shared some stories and had great laughs. After dinner we went to a dance bar where they had played live local music with a bit of reggae influence. It was really a great atmosphere where everyone was having a great time and dancing the night away. It made me even forget the fact that I had to wake up at 5am the next morning for my tour with Ruby. She was smart, she went home early, but I decided to stay longer since it was my only night there. In the end we went to grab a bite before saying our goodbyes around 3am, but I definately did not regret my decision on that, it was totally worth it!
So needless to say I looked like total shit the next day, but still managed to wake up in time for the tour. I joined and met the other people on the tour and off we went. Thankfully they went caving and ziplining first as part of the tour, I kindly passed as I wasn’t really feeling it, so just hung back and chilled for a bit.
Afterwards we went and got lunch before going to the Underground river. Apparently one of the delicacies on Palawan is the Tamilok, also known as shipworm. It’s actually not really a worm, but more like a slug. Ruby said I had to try it since it’s “only” found in Palawan and being the adventurous eater, I couldn’t decline the offer. Tamilok itself is eaten raw, dipped in some lime juice and has a similar taste and texture like oysters. It was rather good to be honest. Definately have to try it!
After lunch we went to the Underground river and boy there was a looooooooong queue to get a boat to enter the cave. I think we waited for nearly 2 hours before it was our turn. At this point the piled up fatigue from the whole day started to come down on me and sitting in a boat, paddling slowly through a dark cave wasn’t doing me any good. Eventhough the cave formations inside were interesting, I did have a hard time keeping my eyes open. I caught myself a few times nodding away and the other people from the tour were worried that I didn’t understand what the guide was saying. Afterwards I told them I was almost falling asleep and they got a nice laugh out of it.
It was really nice to join a tour impulsively and hang out with some more locals and Ruby as well. She’s a crazy one and she loves to take pictures as well and yes, posing is included. I felt in good company so I just went along with all the posing and shenanigens. Overal had a great time in Puerto Princesa because of her and the local couchsurfers as well.