Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Musang or Masked Asian Civet Cat

Little musang at 3 days old. Blind and deaf still
We were given a 3 day old musang (common masked Asian civet cat) by a local villager. He said that it's mother was chased off by dogs in it's village and they didn't know how to feed it, so they gave it to me. We have so many animals on our property that I suppose they felt I could do it justice.  We called her Bindi, which means Little girl in Australian aboriginal language. And she's really our little girl.

After doing extensive research on the internet I found out that giving it infants formula would work for a Palawan bear cat since there wasn't anything specific for Musangs. It seems to have worked since she is almost 2 months old now and very healthy and strong.
When we got her, she couldn't really see well or hear anything at all. It was easy to carry her around in a basket as she wouldn't leave.

Now Bindi is almost 2 months old and is a holy terror. During the day if left alone, she will sleep most of the day and can eat on her own, although she prefers if I mush up bananas, papayas or mangoes with my fingers before eating them. She will eat on her own now though, which is a relief. I used to have to wake up every 2 hours to give her milk up until she was about 31/2 weeks old.

Sunlight to Bindi is like Kryptonite is to Superman. When she tussles and plays during the day, her little bites don't hurt (well they do a little as she still has little "puppy teeth" as it were).  But once night falls, the power of darkness turns her into a raging terror. She bounces off the wall, climbs anything in sight and her nips are stronger and really hurt with those needle like teeth and claws.  Although still playing, it's like the darkness brings out her wild side...she is after all a wild creature.

When she was only a few days to weeks old, I would let her sit on my shoulder with a hand raised chicken and she wouldn't bother with it, except to smell it. Now she trys to nip it's little feet, although the chicken is much bigger now.

It turns out, this particular civet is the one which loves to eat coffee berries, and inside it's intestines, the pulp is removed leaving the coffee bean exposed. The scat is then collected, washed and roasted! It's the most expensive coffee in the world at the moment going at up to 100.00 USD per CUP! I have never tried this type of coffee, nor am I inclined to at that rate, but there are those that swear it is really different and not bitter, and some (most) can't tell the difference. We aren't raising her for this purpose and only found out all this information after rescuing her. It's just an interesting side note. You can watch a video on YouTube about civet coffee here.

In the meantime, I found out that releasing her into the wild here won't be doing her any favors as the locals actually eat them, and she won't know how to fend for herself, although even at 2 months old (not quite) she's already attacking the myna birds in the animal enclosure we built for her and them. Obviously we will have to build a partition for the birds and even the rabbit who she is already trying to wrestle with!

Click to enlarge. Bindis' shelter.
Will Bindi make a good pet? We have yet to find out. She is just under 2 months old, and at night she's a holy terror. I have joined a FaceBook group all about musang lovers and it shows photos of people walking them on leashes during the day, but it's all in Indonesian so I don't understand a word. One friend of mine got a musang when it was already grown and she took it everywhere on a leash, but at night it too become fierce and they couldn't deal with it and wound up giving it away.

Bindi has a very large habitat to run around in at night, so if that happens to her, she will have a large space to run around and act weird in, keeping us safe from her teeth and needle like claws.

Our masked civet cat Bindi at a week old.

Animal shelter and playroom. We built this not just for Bindi the musang, but for a pet rabbit and two pet mynah birds. Since then we have found out that Bindi will not be able to live with the others and play nice, so we will etiher build another habitat for them or divide this one enclosure so that Bindi cannot terrorize them or even eat them!
Bindi at just under 2 months old

Bindi with the bunny.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Puting Buhangin Beach - Mangingisda

If you want an off the beaten path and also a native experience, with a white sand beach mostly to yourself, then check out Puting Buhangin (white sand) beach in Mangingisda, across Puerto Princesa bay.  The waters are clean and clean and the beach itself is trash free.
Puting Buhangin Beach - Mangingisda- Puerto Princesa, Palawan
You can take a 30 minute ferry to the pier from Puerto Princesa Fish port at Baywalk to Managingisda Fish port across the bay, then a 12 minute trike to the beach. Every trike driver knows where the fish port is.

Depending on the time of year, there are many sand fleas near the actual mangroves. Oil of any kind will drown them on your skin. Their bites are horribly itchy. Mosquito repellents do not work on them.

There are no services whatsoever, so bring everything you will need for the day. If you come by car, then ask the locals in the area how to get there, they know where it is.

At low tide, you have to walk about 20 to 30 meters across the sand to get to the water....but no corals to step on and break, and mostly sea grass here and there.

Bring a lot of sun block as there is no shade to be had, and the sun and white sand make a good combination for sun burns.

There are no entrance fees and the cost of the ferry one way is 35.00 pesos. They do take motorbikes across as well.  The trike ride is about 1 2  minutes from the pier to the beach,  and will cost a bit more, but negotiate..it's not that far but pretty rocky road in parts. They charge me 100.00 pesos to go 4 kilometers from the pier to my house.

If you feel like lugging it...a nice beach umbrella you could stick in the sand for shade, or one of those portable pop out cabaƱas would let you enjoy the beach longer, by giving you shelter from the sweltering sun on white sand effect! At low tide, you have to walk across the sand too far to be in the shade of the few trees dotting the shoreline.

We have actually just dived off the Mangingisda pier itself and swam out there with the locals as well.  The Mangingisda pier has a couple of Sari-Sari stores for basics like snacks, gum, soft drinks and the occasional Banana on a stick with roasted sugar the natives like. One store has a small Turo-Turo selection of local dishes with rice there during lunchtime if you get really hungry. We have eaten there and survived.

Go to this previous blog entry for the Ferry schedule between Puerto Princesa City and Mangingisda pier.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Photovoltaic Solar Panel store

We have gotten all of our solar powered lights, panels, controllers and inverters from this store in Puerto Princesa, on Rizal Avenue. It is beside David's Hair Salon after a breezeway. This company "Photovoltaic Solar Centre" also has a display and sales room in the new Robinson's mall on the second floor.
Photovoltaic Solar Center- on Rizal Avenue - Our source for solar panels and solar LED light bulbs and systems.

Here is their address and contact information:
Photovoltaic Solar Center
Door #4 Lustre Building, Rizal Avenue
5300 Puerto Princesa City,
Palawan, Philippines 5300

Telephone: (048) 4346940
Mobile No. 09088937191
email:  pvsolarcentre@gmail.com

Google Map: 

This is the power pack that comes with the LED kit of two LED lights. It has a small solar panel.

12 volt LED solar powered bulb. It's the brightest and uses the least amount of energy and battery life. I use one above my office desk all day, even on cloudy days it has yet to go off! This is a stand alone bulb and didn't come in a kit, but it't the best and most energy efficient solar light bulb we have gotten from them

This is another type of LED solar bulb that comes with a kit. A charger and inverter in one small box. You can also charge your cell phones on a sunny day with the adapters.
When there were brownouts, it would go dark in the kitchen and the water pump would shut off so we would run out of water. These panels now run the water pump, a floor fan and all of the lights. I actually can't tell when there is a brownout anymore because it remains so bright.

Here is a link to Google Maps showing this location. http://goo.gl/T6w1U

Quite a few people have asked where we get our solar kits. So there you have it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ferry Schedule from Puerto to Mangingisda Pier


Sorry to say the Ferry Boats are no longer following the schedule listed here. But the ferries do still run daily. The last one from Maningisda to the Fish Port at Baywalk is around 4pm.

There ferry boats leave from downtown Fish Port by the Baywalk. It's just before Unitop Grocery and Department store. A small little alley.

The ferries will usually wait for the boats to be full before departing, so the times are not exact.  Also, if you ask one ferry boat what the last boat is from either side...they will only tell you THEIR schedule and not the schedule of the other boats. Cooperation between ferries seems to be non-existent. So don't believe it if they tell you the last boat time of the day for ALL ferries. They are only saying the last schedule for their particular bangka ferry.

Case in point; we had a visitor arrive on one ferry yesterday, when he asked what time the last ferry to Puerto was, they said 3pm, when in fact another ferry was at the dock at 4:30pm.

This is the schedule for ALL ferries to and from Puerto Princesa and Mangingisda Pier.
This is one of the ferry bangkas. They do provide
life vests on board.

Ferry Fares:
Adult:     35.00 php
Seniors:  28.00 php with ID

Fees for Motorbikes apply and portage for rice sacks, cement also

Life vests are provided on board all Ferries.
Ferry Departure Schedule:
From Puerto Fish Port Pier to Mangingida Pier:

Boat Name: Times of Departure
Hanna 6:20am 1:00pm 1:30pm
Stephanie  6:55am 10:30am 2:15pm
P.Haine 7:20am 11:30am 3:00pm
S. Richard 8:20am 12:30pm 4:30pm
Jaizel 9:30am   1:30pm 5:20pm

From Mangingisda to Puerto Fish Port Pier

P. Haine     6:20am    9:30am   1:30pm
S. Richard 7:00am 10:30am  2:30pm
Jaizel 7:30am 11:30am   3:30pm
Stephanie    8:20am 12:30pm  4:30pm
P.Hanna     10:00am 3:00pm   6:00pm

The locals, kids especially, love to swim off the dock at Mangingisda Pier. It's clean enough that when it's too hot, we do the same. I think trike drivers can also take passengers to Puting Buhangin Beach if you like white sand and wide open spaces to splash around in. No services at Puting Buhangin, so if you go there,bring everything. 
Across the bay from Puerto Princesa.
The Fish port at Mangingisda Pier. Everyday around 5:30 to 6:20am or so, the fishermen sell their wares on the dock. Wide angle shot with a GoPro Hero2 cam.
When it's cloudy, the photo ops at Mangingisda Pier are fabulous if you like sunsets.
This is Puting Buhangin beach, accessible from the Maniningisda Pier via trike once you get off the ferry.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dolphin Watching in Puerto Princesa

A spinner dolphin beside our bangka.
Click any photo to enlarge or start the|
Slide show.

Dolphin watching!

For years now, since moving to Puerto Princesa, Palawan, I have heard that the dolphin watching was quite an experience. We never went out on the bay until a few weeks ago when Dave bought his own bangka and parked it in Turtle Bay, just 1 km. in back of where we live.

When we first got here, everyone was going on and on about the Puerto Princesa Underground River. Which we have now seen thrice! It is truly amazing.

Yet for me, nothing compares to the feeling of  being surrounded by all these spinner dolphins, so close we could almost touch them.  The first time we went out, we came upon them within 15 minutes of setting out! Then my camera battery died!!!

(Since I posted this, I have been asked if you can swim with the dolphins. First, it's not allowed, and secondly, the boat is moving, so it's not possible to swim with them.  Once you spot the dolphins, one has to literally catch up to them in the bangka. Once they spot you, they will slow down and then swim along side the bangka. Then they will disappear again and surface somewhere else. Then you have to head out to them again. So it's sort of a gentle chase situation.)

The second time we brought a friend and her son, but the waves were pretty high and we only caught a glimpse of a large school in the distance before it was time to get back to shore.

This last time, the day before my 64th birthday, we went out and got to the spot at around 8am. Lo and behold, dolphins to the right, then to the left and pretty soon spinner dolphins were everywhere we looked!

I think it was the most amazing, wonderful and magical experience of my life and I will never forget this day with the dolphins.

We had several children with us and they screamed and cheered. The more they cheered, the more dolphins would appear and do their acrobatics! Apparently up to 200 individual dolphins can comprise one school!

These spinner dolphins swam around, under and beside our bangka! One could almost touch them. (Not allowed though.) Their only reward was our screams of absolute glee. Feeding the dolphins is not allowed.

This was taken Sept 7, 2012 - Shot with a GoPro Hero2 cam, in waterproof housing, hand held and basically point and shoot in almost any direction. They were ahead, beside, underneath, chasing and crisscrossing the bow of the boat as we moved. With the GoPro,  I had to be quick to get the action all around me. At one point I after I'd shot enough, I put the camera down so I could just inhale, and take in the experience. All the shots except the dolphin jumping we shot with 2 GoPro Hero cams. One in the water and one above.

Sept. 7, 2012

Sept.7, 2012 - shot with a GoPro Hero Camera in a waterproof housing.

Sept. 7, 2012 - A spinner dolphin spinning...imagine that!
Sept. 7, 2012 - Shot above water with a GoPro Hero Cam in a waterproof housing from the bow of the bangka.  This is a mother dolphin with her youngster!

Taken with a GoPro2 Hero cam mounted on a metal pipe and set to take shots every second the placed underwater as the dolphins neared.. It shows what we couldn't see from above, that there were even more dolphins than we thought. 

If you ever do see them on a tour, please don't feed the dolphins. We like our dolphins wild!

Ghostly image of the dolphins under the water beside our boat..

This is what it looked like when the dolphins would disappear from our view above board on the boat. This is what they did when out of sight; dive, dive, dive. Only to come back up a few meters away and then. This day there we at least 100 in this school of spinner dolphins. A GoPro Hero cam, set to go off every 1 second, attached to a metal pole beneath the water. We had to delete a lot of Dave's nose as he went to turn off the auto shoot.

Here we are with our crew in the back, after the experience heading back to Turtle Bay where we park our bangka. That's me in the hat and Dave in front of me.

This is an unfinished resort we see every time we go out on the boat across the cove in Turtle bay.
Our bangka, Laika, which Dave bought for us to be able to enjoy the waters around us and experience the sea creatures and clear waters in the area.
I read somewhere that the dolphin watching season begins here in June, but this was August when we first spotted them. We saw just as many again in early September as well.

 One has to be careful this time of year because the Habagat (southwesterly winds come up around 11 am).  There are tours you can buy at most of the tour guide agencies in town and they will have the schedule.

We are lucky we can go out anytime we want since we now have our own bangka. It's best to leave very early in the morning when the seas are calm.

Here are some other links about the spinner dolphins in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

Another blog about this experience:

A video on YouTube, not the greatest but it shows how clear the water is and how close the dolphins get.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mangingisda Pier Across from Baywalk

An Off the beaten track eco adventure!

One of the ferry boats that cross the
Puerto Princesa bay to Mangingingisda pier.
From there you can take your motorbike to the
National Highway south. Most of the road is
 paved except for the the first 4 KMs from
the pier to the highway south.
While Irawan bridge is being repaired there is a balsa/raft for motorbikes to cross the river at Irawan.  You can go to the National Highway south to that route through muddy waters and roads, wait in line, then take the raft at Irawan which brings the motorbikes across. There is however, a less known alternative.

Whether you are a tourist or local, the nice alternatives are the ferry bangkas heading out every hour and a half or so from Baywalk fisherman's pier (or Puerto Fishport), to Mangingisda Pier. It's 35.00 php for people and same for your motorbike one way and only takes 35 to 40 minutes depending on which ferry you get. Our daughter is 4 years old and her fare was 10.00 Pesos. Just ask any trike driver to take you to the fishport and they know where that is.

From the Pier you take the road to the National Highway. If you turn left you can tour the southern part of Palawan or head back to Puerto through several tree covered lanes. The Crocodile farm and Irawan Eco park Zip lines are just near the area before the bridge or raft going back to town. You can tour those then go ahead take the raft just one way to town.

Sleepy little Port of Mangingisda. Nothing to do there but you can swim with the locals off
the pier. The waters are green like El Nido in the summer months.
For tourists, it's a nice local eco-adventure. The waters at the pier are clean enough to swim, which we often do. The local kids will even do somersaults for you if you point a camera in their direction. There are a couple little Sari Sari stores to buy BananaQs, bottled water and soft drinks, even hard boiled eggs. You will need to bring your own towels and everything else. This is a totally local adventure with NO stars! No services like showers etc.  We enjoy it since we only live about 12 minutes away, on our semi sustainable farm, off the paved part of the road.

This is in the summer. The water is shallow near the mangroves and the water is warmer as well, for the cold blooded like me. It's at the very tip of Mangingisda Pier.
Mangingisda pier is a really nice place to set sunset photos. Especially if there are a few clouds in the sky!

One of the ferry boats that will go to the Fish Port at Baywalk, downtown Puerto Princesa at sunset at Mangingisda Pier.

Ferry bangka approaching the Mangingisda pier. It's just passing a charter boat called M/YSakura. If you call in advance, and have a larger budget, you can hire it to take you on a tour of the waters here. They have a list of day tours to Turtle Bay or Dolphin watching and seasonally, swim with the whale sharks.
If you wanted to take a ride around the barangay in our electric trike, the caretaker knows how to get in touch with us.  If we are free and not too busy, we would be more than happy to tour you around in it.
Our electric passenger trike. Not for hire but
would be happy to give you a free ride if we
are aren't too busy!

If you are not inclined to dive off the pier at Mangingisda, and want more privacy, ask the local trike driver to take you to Puting Buhangin beach which is also on the Mangingisda peninsula. Remember, these places are for those seeking gentle adventures and again, there are no services there at all. Just a quiet small cove with white sands and clean water. Only the locals know about this place so far. We go there a lot in summer.

Puting Buhangin Beach (White Sand Beach) in Mangingisda is a local resident favorite. But there are no services so bring everything you think you will need.

Buting Buhanging beach in Mangingisda has white sands and clear water. It's a local favorite and yet undiscovered by most tourists
If you do have a motorbike or your own vehicle and have braved the funky bridge at Irawan, you can travel an hour and a half south of here to Narra, where there is a really lovely resort called Crystal Paradise Resort and Spa.  It has private villas, regular rooms, restaurant, massage, pool and other such amenities to try. Hot water for showers, airconditioned rooms and satellite TV as well. They do have their own website at: http://www.crystalparadiseresort.com

Crystal Paradise Resort and Spa in Narra, southern Palawan. A very quiet and tranquil place. This is Villa number 1, I believe. It has a bedroom loft upstairs with two or three beds aside from
the master bedroom downstairs.
I know that one of the primary reasons people come to Puerto Princesa, is to tour the Underground River. But the southern part of Palawan has so many other off the beaten track things do do as well.

For instance, if you head back to Puerto Princesa to the National Highway from Mangingisda pier, you will come across a sign to Napsan. It's on the left pointing to a large graded dirt road. If you go down that road (on a dirt bike or sturdy vehicle) there are pristine forests, rivers and waterfalls to be discovered, and at the end of that road there is Napsan Beach (where we haven't been yet). Before that, approximately 33 KMS from the National highway is one of our favorite haunts called Salakot Waterfalls.
Salakot waterfalls. Your own private Eden. Bring anything you will need as there are no services whatsoever! Make sure to bring plastic bags to haul your trash out with so you can
leave it as clean or cleaner than how you found it. Summer is the best time to go as the road is very muddy in the rainy season. We have gone in November, but the waters are not as clear, but still ok to swim in, though perhaps a little muddy.
Here are some scenes from around this area for your enjoyment:

Inside Turtle Bay:
A cool looking jelly fish with tiny fish swimming with it in Turtle Bay

The ubiquitous mangroves which are so prevalent here in Puerto Princesa and protect our shores and many other species of marine animals.

This is a resort they are building inside Turtle Bay. I can't wait till it is open. I hope they have a restaurant there one of these days!

View of Thumb Peak from the bay

 A cool fiddler crab on the muddy shore of one of the coves inside Turtle Bay

This looks like a nice little beach for a picnic inside Turtle Bay. We will go there when the weather gets better!
Clear waters around the bend from Mangingisda Pier and heading towards Turtle Bay.