January 26, 2014: After a few days of diving, we decided we wanted a break. Following farewell pancakes with our new dive buddy Bruce, we rented a dirt bike from Ann & Mike’s in Concepcion and rode into the town of Coron for the day. From the directions Mike gave us (turn right at the end of the road and drive straight all the way to Coron), we rather expected it to be somewhat less than 20 kilometres. In reality, it turned out to be more like 40. As you can see from the pictures, the road was in varying stages of construction, probably less than half paved and very dusty. By the end of the day, I think my poor little Sony Cyber Shot was about ready to pack it in. Now it has dust specks inside the lens to go along with the shadows that appear sometimes in the left corner and sometimes in the right corner. It means a lot of cropping before posting.
We were in Coron briefly last April on our way back from snorkeling in the lakes on nearby Coron Island. Just long enough to wander around the market that time (see previous post). Today, we did the same but a bit more leisurely. Since I would have to carry everything we bought in a small backpack on the way back, it kept the purchases to a minimum. Just a few cucumbers, a canteloupe, some onions, some peppers and a few very hard to find lemons. Luckily I’d managed to pick up some other basic provisions already in Concepcion.
Coron town has become something of a diving mecca. Lots of backpackers and other travellers come to dive the World War II wrecks in Coron Bay and go snorkeling on the coral reefs. The town itself seems to have grown up around the dive shops along the waterfront. After a few weeks on the fringes of Busuanga Island, it all seemed rather big and hectic to us.
Wondering where to go for lunch, Chris checked Trip Advisor and it turned up a gem. Rated number one in town…and only open for six months…was Sinugba Sa Balay (meaning Grilled at Home). We stopped by at lunch time but they were busy cleaning and suggested we try again between 2 and 3 pm. So after killing a couple of hours wandering around on foot and driving around on the bike, we returned. It was worth the wait.
Kat, the young owner, moved from Manila to Coron to open her own place last year, much to the dismay of her family. She and her thatched roof restaurant survived the night that Typhoon Yolanda crashed through town. Many others weren’t so lucky. By the damage done to the metal roof on the public market (see photo), the winds were ripping. It looked like it was peeled back with that little can opener on my Swiss Army Knife.
We liked this place immediately. Friendly staff. Open and airy feel with a well equipped kitchen. Fresh sheet featuring only what Kat found of interest in the market that morning. And great Filipino food with a twist. Like her pineapple lime smoothie. Made with crushed lime leaves off a plant in her garden rather than lime juice, which is really hard to find. Or her mango banana ginger smoothie. My new favourite.
We ordered too much and ate it all. Fresh lumpia (a giant salad roll), yellowfin tuna curry with rice and tuna tataki grilled just right…about three second per side. Everything was excellent. She also makes her own flat bread and noodles but we figured we’d have to come back again to try those.
With happy bellies, we got back on the bike for the long, bumpy, dusty ride back to Concepcion. It actually seemed to go a lot quicker the second time around, but I wouldn’t want to have to make that trip too often!
A note about the photo of the three guys on the one scooter. We passed them several times. They passed us several times. I took a photo each time. By the time I took this one, we were already great friends.
Next up…diving the wrecks of Coron Bay. (In real time, we arrived back in Subic Bay yesterday morning, February 8th. So hopefully we’ll have a better Internet connection and I’ll have more time to catch up these last couple of weeks on the blog and get started on editing our videos.)