Anyone who visits the Philippines would be crazy not to visit the tropical paradise of Palawan, the ‘New 7 Wonders of Nature and the Last Frontier’. Anyone who visits Palawan would be crazy not to visit Green Sheebang Hostel and Bar.
The place is in the interior of Libis Road, Bgy. San Pedro about 800 meters from the national highway. It is surrounded by trees and plants that are preserved to give a fresh ambiance and a feeling of home.
What you won’t see is a speck of litter. The pride that Judy—the proprietor—takes in her business is obvious, and this attitude is also apparent in all of her cheerful, helpful staff. Judy is a lady with an eye for detail and an instinct for constant improvement. Her skill in hospitality was honed by the many years she spent as waitress, then cooking and mastering many European cuisines. Judy’s creative touch are everywhere in this business, from the kitchen to the decors. The building and its garden are well-maintained, and exude a charm that is bound to make your stay more pleasant.
It’s a must visit Green Sheebang, the first thing you’ll see is Mario playing table-tennis. If you challenge him to a game, the second thing you’ll see is Mario handily beating you at table-tennis. Mario is the talented artist whose paintings and artwork adorn nearly every available surface at this warm and well-appointed hostel. This artwork immediately gives Green Sheebang a vibe that sets it apart from any other hostel that you are likely to find in Puerto Princesa.
Green Sheebang offers four comfortable and air-conditioned private double rooms, and three single rooms with a fan. (If needed, you can request an additional single bed in the double room.) There are also three air-conditioned mixed dormitories (6 beds, 10 beds and 14 beds). These spacious dorms budget-conscious travelers provide a more social experience that many backpackers prefer. Many travelling groups use this oasis as a base for their travels, so book ahead if you can!
This hostel also has a few extra features you won’t find at many hostels, including a Spa and Well-being Centre where you can try experience traditional Filipino massage and other therapies. There is also a cool ‘Jungle Shower’, where you can enjoy a warm private shower surrounded by plants and artwork!
Brown-outs are a frustrating fact of life in Puerto Princesa, but at Green Sheebang, they are just another great excuse for guests to mingle at the bar!
Take the time to get to know your fellow guests; you’ll be surprised at how many exotic accents and exciting tales you’ll overhear. As weary travelers trickle in steadily throughout the day, the crowd at the bar continues to grow, and the bar is open to guests and the public 24/7.
So ask one of funky guys behind the bar to prepare your favourite alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink, and soak up the atmosphere. My personal favourite was the Singapore Sling… I’ll confess to having more than a handful in one particularly memorable afternoon sitting!
After a resounding defeat on the table-tennis table, I got a chance to chat with Judy. It was warming to hear Judy describe the hostel, its staff and its guests as her ‘family’. Judy is well traveled, and can share many insights into the many cultures that she has encountered abroad and in her hostel. Judy’s siblings have stopped trying to convince her to join them in living in Australia… they understand she would never give up her connection to the fulfilling, independent life that she has crafted for herself at Green Sheebang.
Green Sheebang is not just for travelers. The restaurant is open to the public, and even the most choosy eater is sure to find a gem here; the menu offers all-day Western and Filipino breakfasts that really showcase the local produce, including the freshest eggs and fish, and of course, pork. While many travelers savour the opportunity to remember home with authentic Western favourites (pizza, burgers, onion rings, fish fingers… you name it!).
I’d also recommend you use this as a ‘safe place’ to try some Pinoy food that you’ve been nervous to try outside. As a seasoned Adobo eater, I can confidently vouch for Green Sheebang’s version, and I enjoyed the chance to sample some traditional eggplant and tomato side-dishes.
Make sure to try the succulent burgers here; the delicious, savoury buns are baked in-house, and provide a welcome reminder of home for those travelers who haven’t yet acquired a taste for Asian-style sweet breads. Also, the cheesy pizzas are also well-known amongst locals and expats alike, and should not be missed. This is probably the only place in Palawan where you will find authentic Italian pizza… only a perfectionist like Judy would go to the trouble of importing cheeses direct from Italy! You can even order a platter of provolene, gorgonzola, parmesan cheeses served with olives and Italian dressings. Judy’s five years experience as a chef at a leading Italian restaurant hin Puerto Galera have influenced her delightful and mouth-watering menu.
Of course, the restaurant can also prepare delightful local delicacies, and will soon offer deliveries in the Puerto Princesa area.
The delicately-spiced baby-back ribs were a real treat! Served with a creamy side of mashed potato, this elegantly-presented dish will impress you with its balanced sweetness and richness. Up there with the best rib dishes I’ve tried in Asia!
The wine list is impressive, and carries Judy’s fingerprint. Her relationships with her French suppliers ensure that your wine will be a notch above the typical wines you’ll find at bars around Palawan. I’d recommend a bottle of the smooth Rosé or big Cabernet Sauvignon as the perfect accompaniment to a relaxing evening with old and new friends in the gazebo.
The hotel is conveniently located within walking distance (or a cheap tricycle ride!) of town and the beach, and staff at reception are able to organise visits to nearby attractions like the Underground River or the Penal Camp at a fair price… but beware, you may be tempted just to stay put at the bar!
By Ariel Pilcer