June 11th was the day intended for the most highlighted part of our Puerto Princesa escapade- our grand tour for one of the Seven Wonders of Nature! Do I still need to state what it is? Hahah It’s too obvious but just in case you’re someone coming from different places on earth and hasn’t heard anything about this underground river thing then I’ll be very glad to introduce to you (DRUM ROLLS PLEASE)…… the Puerto Princesa Underground River. 😀 😀 😀 (Introductions for another tourist destinations may follow so better keep on reading eh! 😛 )
We started our day by of course waking up extra early to catch up our 6 am meal. An hour later, Mr. Zandro picked us up. Woah, we were his first clients so I instantly took the opportunity to grab a sit beside the window. That’s my favorite spot. 🙂 We then stopped by at several inns to pick up another clients- one couple and a family just like us.
The almost 2-hour journey had never been so boring as this witty man spilled his words to us. I remember one time when he jokingly said about a place called “Sin City” because the people living there used to make “a-sin” or asin! Turned out, the main livelihood for the people was to make salts. (Asin means salt). 😀 Now you’re laughing. 😛
Aside from filling my half-empty ears and enjoying a portion of the road that offered a roller coaster ride, I also couldn’t get myself from looking at those magnificent mountains I’d seen through the window along the road. Yes, I’ve been living in a mountainous province of Bukidnon but it took me years to appreciate mountains. Looking at them made me want to scale few of them in the future. Or perhaps all. 🙂
In fact, there were few instances when Sir She would have to slow down, giving us enough time to take a photo of their limestone mountain. This mountain is often compared by other tourist guides to the scene of Avatar movie. There’s one time when Sir Zandro himself took the photo of Mt. McDonald (nope, it’s not the mountain’s name but because of its M-shape peak) on MY behalf. Hahah
I should say Palawan has a lot more to offer for adventure-seekers and mountain lover like me. Along the road, Sir Zandro showed us the far-distant Mt. Saint Paul that looked like a rhinoceros. As we came nearer, it transformed to a man-like figure long nose and protruded chin.
It was an almost perfect ride EXCEPT the fact that I was haunted by motion-sickness. Argggh. Maybe I should blame it for not taking medicine, for eating my oily breakfast voraciously or perhaps the roller coaster ride had caught me in the end. 😦 Luckily, after more than one hour of ride, Sir Zandro decided to drop us by at the Jazz Souvenir and Cafeteria for immediate personal necessities. Haha Just in time before I spewed myself out. 😀 Someone’s got lucky on that day, eh! 😛 Right after I cleaned my tummy, I immediately turned my attention to the surroundings. More than lucky that I was able to take a photo of Tres Marias Islands. And us strolling and posing around. 🙂
We didn’t take too long before we head back to the van and resumed the ride. As promised, the journey didn’t take more than thirty minutes. By the time we arrived, I was literally splendid by the view of Sabang Beach. Mountains like Mt. St. Paul on the left side while Mt. Bloomfield on the right among other mountains and the sea seemed to come together to greet us. 🙂
Aside from posing rituals, we also opted to goof around while waiting for our assigned bangka.
Then our time finally came. Hehe So excited to get aboard.
In the middle of the 20-minute boat ride, I was again astonished by never-before-seen rock islands and different rock formations. I was indeed in the paradise.
God, you’re so great. I thought I’d never wanted this day to end. Finally, the long wait was over. After posing for some commercial photographers, we also took some pictures of my own. As I roamed around the forest (yes, there’ a forest with LOTS of legal snatchers. 😀 ), I remember one warning our guide had told us: NEVER NEVER BRING ANY PLASTICS. Or else…
The legal snatcher just snatched away tourist’s bottled water. Our guide further explained to us a brief history. Long ago, tourists were allowed to feed the monkeys and eventually their natural diet. Upon seeing this, the management then restricted the practice but failed to change the behavior of the monkeys. They already learned to associate plastics as foods and so whenever they saw one, they would immediately grab it. So they snatched it out right away just the way how they got one bottled water from a tourist. We were also warned not to grin and to show our teeth right in front of these monkeys or else we’d leave the forest with scratches on our face. Such behavior is associated with aggression so better watch out. 🙂
And the moment had come.
All aboard. 😀
I knew something great had been waiting for all of us.
As we came nearer to the underground river, we could immediately grasp the wind and the unlikely smell. Probably, the bats made that kind of smell possible. Our guide took us to the brackish water for almost 45-minute tour inside the cave that would cover 4.5 kilometer- more than half from the total 8.2 km navigable underground river. The 4.5 km distant is based on boatman’s capability to carry passengers inside the river. However in 2007, a group of scientists explored the whole 8.2 km and found some interesting things there. Moreover, our boatman insisted not to become too overwhelmed with the rock formations inside and to keep our mouth shut.
He later introduced us to the highest peak inside the river which was either located below “long nose section” of Mt. St. Paul or to its “dome-like” figure. Then came the area they called as “The Cathedral”. Needless to say, it was called us such because of the saint-like or God-like rock formations present in that portion of the river.
Towards the end of the the journey, we could still see different rock formations.
Along the way, we also met the biggest stalagmite.
But just like any other tourist, everything must come to an end. After almost an hour of navigating one of the world’s wonder of nature- a living manifestation of one’s fantasies, we found ourselves back to the outside world. 😀
Before leaving the place, we’re fortunate enough to see this monitor lizard, one of the forests’ animal attraction. It’s really cute to think it even showed itself to the people around. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the picture anymore. Too bad I almost cry. 😦
However, one must not end the post with disappointment. Visiting the Puerto Princesa Underground River was a dream come true for me, my family and for many tourists. The place left us with so much mystery questions and mystery of what could lie beyond that 4.5 km. Nevertheless, I find myself appreciating the place and our country as a whole. We should learn to protect these gems and make the world know about it.
Keep posted for more #MTDoV Series. 😀