Saturday, April 14, 2007

Puerto Princesa, Palawan Underground River Tour

Arriving at the entry point of the Underground River 

On our second day, we bought the package tour of Casa Linda for our trip to the Underground River. It cost us P1,300 each. We would’ve gotten the one offered by our trustworthy tricycle driver, Mang Lito, if it didn’t involve being on the road for two hours. I thought, if something bad would’ve happened to us, at least Casa Linda would’ve been accountable for it. So we went on with our journey.

The left side of Sabang Beach was where we boarded our boat.

By 7:30 am, we were already on the road. The annoying thing about joining a package tour is that you get to be with other people, mostly of foreign descent, who have their own various styles and personalities. What ticked me off about it was these two Koreans is that they move so slowwho happened to move so slow. They seemed ignorant about the concept of respecting other people’s time. We waited for them outside Asturias Hotel for more than 30 minutes when we could’ve been using that time heading to our destination already! Apparently, when I talked to the Filipino couple we were with, who also came from Asturias Hotel, they explained that their hotel front desk  officer was not able to coordinate well with the tour agency. The two Koreans thought they were going to Honda Bay, so they went back to their room and changed attire making us all wait for them in the process. How inconsiderate, right? Grrrr!!! It was infuriating!

Dropping by the Information Center in Sabang for our boat tickets.

Anyway, as if I wasn’t stressed at all, I just put on my ipod earphones and calmed myself down. After ten years, we were on our way. The ride was smooth on our first hour on the road. We passed by scenic views of trees, mountains and seas. We even saw Honda Bay from afar. On the second hour, the road started to get a little rough until we couldn’t nap anymore because of the very bumpy ride.

After around 20 minutes, we docked at this beautiful island with limestone cliffs. 
Passing through the jungle path to the Underground River 

Finally, we reached Sabang station where a boat took us to the entry point of the Underground River. They got us off at a nice beach beside limestone cliffs. The view was pretty spectacular. And Palawan is really known for these natural formations.  We didn’t get to swim there because we were following a schedule (which is another annoying thing when joining package tours. You don’t own your time. You always follow your tour guide or risk getting lost.) From there, we walked through this jungle path leading to the river. While walking, we noticed that around three komodo dragons, locally known as bayawak were crawling everywhere. I think I got my first ever heart attack! What were they thinking??? It took a while before it dawned on me that these creepy and scaly creatures didn’t mean any harm and that’s just the way people take care of them there. It’s their environment after all and we were merely visitors. Still…!

crawling on the ground… 
crawling on a tree trunk… 
crawling beside me… 

Anyway, when we got to the riverbank, there was a long line where we registered our names. And I think it took another 30 minutes or so before our group was called for the boat ride inside the underground river itself…

Another thing that pissed me off was the fact that the logistic people of the tour would assign 9 people per boat. It came to a point that they pressured one of us into riding another boat just because that boat had 8 persons in it and it wouldn’t start moving until they completed their quota of 9. Didn’t it occur to them that when people travel, most of the time, they travel at least by pairs? They could’ve designed the boat in such a way that people would at least be divided in even numbers like by 8 or by 10. Why would they pressure us into separating ways? Even if they think that we’d be going to the same place anyway and be seeing the same things, being separated from your own group/partner/friends will still be a different and less enjoyable  from that of being together. I was almost ready to give them a piece of my mind hadn’t they felt my piercing looks. (Taray!)
Enjoying the view as we go inside the river cave.
Inside the huge cave, my stresses immediately dissolved. The formations were just so fantastic! See for yourself!


Back at Sabang beach, we were given a few hours to frolick around. Except for the fine white sand, the place reminds me of La Union because of the waves. I wondered why they didn’t promote surfing in that area. Later on, it came to my attention that the place is a protected area and they didn’t want to commercialize it for the sake of protecting the existing marine ecosystem. Fair enough.

Enjoying Sabang’s little waves… 
Playing like children…. 
Marichit enjoying the sun… 
The Walrus is the king of the waves…! 

At around 4pm, we were all ready to go back to the city. As usual, the two Koreans again took forever to bath and dress up. We were already giving them slight hints that it was time to go and that everybody was already waiting for them. Hay, maryosep, oo! Ang kukupad! Anyway, we dozed off on our way back. The rest of the evening was spent  dining and chatting at Casa Linda’s own restaurant.

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