Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Underground River Adventure, Palawan

Finally Palawan! So what took me so long to visit this amazing province? Me and my ignorance about malaria.  I'm a mosquito magnet and the last thing I wanted is a vacation turned into a disaster. Must be my sweet blood, I attract mosquitoes.

So what made me finally say yes to my friend's invitation?

Air Asia had a seat sale for 900 pesos all in round trip from Cebu to Puerto Princessa. (Air Asia and Zest Air merged sometime last year) So I thought it was a pretty good deal. By the way, kudos to the pilot last March 6, in my entire flying life, it was the safest landing experience for someone who is so scared of landing.

I had read and seen good reviews about the place one cannot deny that it's a must go to spot. The videos and the pictures were so inviting.  Call it ban wagon, most of my friends had been there and they seemed very convincing with their stories.

The food.  Each region in this country separated by bodies of water has its own taste and flavor in their food. Clustered by the language we speak, it would be an intense cultural experience, so I thought. Palawan has their own local language but most of them speak Tagalog. I can understand Tagalog but since I don't use it often, speaking it is a bit challenging.  Luckily they can understand my Cebuano. Except for that tour guide who gave me a hard time, he must have enjoyed hearing me in my twisted Tagalog and only to find out after the tour he knows Cebuano.

Of course the famous Underground River. I learned about it since I was in primary school.  The place got hyped when it became part of the new 7 wonders of the world.  A lot of international tourists come to the country to see it, why not when I'm just an hour away.

Plus my friend did the itinerary so all I have to do is tag along. Cool.

So you can visit the Underground River you need to have a permit from the city hall and it may take weeks due to the number of tourist. They only allow 900 visitors in a day, part of preservation.  To make this vacation hassle free, we got an agent to do it for us. We met Ms Veve (+63-919-272-6174).  She's very friendly and accommodating.  She worries for us.  She made sure that our experience would be the best. We could call her anytime if we need some thing or just have a question about where to.

She booked our tour that includes the permit, the van, the banca, the lunch, environmental fee and a tour guide for Php 1400.00. She also helped us booked for an inn for Php 700 per person. It was her who arranged our transportation from Puerto to El Nido for  Php1250.00 the next day. Basically our virtual tour guide as to where to when we where roaming Puerto Princesa. I'd say you get her when you plan a trip.

The van picked us up at 7:00AM.  Surprisingly they were on time. No Filipino time in Palawan. It was a hour drive from Puerto Princesa to Sabang port. It was a roller coaster drive going there. There were sharp curves, zigzag roads, uphill and downhill.  The tour guide was being funny so I guess it helped.

Sabang port
From Sabang Port a "banca" will take you to the Underground River.

 Roughly 20 minutes.  The weather was so perfect.  The sun was up and the waves were not as crazy.

I never expected we would dock in a beach. "wrong footwear" I must have said it loud, this guy with an English accent smiled and greeted me hi.

After the registration we followed this wooden trail

viola! just like in the post cards.

We were fully geared.

The rock formations were amazing.  The tour-guide/paddler (a different guy from the van) said to activate our imagination. He directs us what to see, where to glance, he was funny actually. What the guy said from the vlog above was right.  A little left, left, nooo.. too much left.. There was a part that I was laughing really hard, yes inside the cave!

It was a good 45 minute adventure.

Luckily for us, we didn't have to wait in line for that long. We were ready for lunch when we headed back to Sabang port.

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