Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Down under the Underground River...

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) is one of the most important biodiversity conservation areas of the Philippines. It features a spectacular limestone or karst landscape that contains an 8.2 km long underground river.  It is reputed to be the longest navigable underground river in the World. It is the official entry of the Philippines to the Search for the New 7 Wonders of Nature. - PP Underground River

To visit the well-known Underground River was the only reason why I wanted to go to Puerto Princesa, Palawan. I have always been fascinated about her gorgeous beauty even before she became our finalist to the search for the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

And when she made into the shortened list, it convinced me more to get to know her better.

We were picked up by our service van at Ysabelle Mansion at 7am. We had Kuya Ryan as our guide, through Palawan ultimate Adventures. They said travel time from the city to Sabang port is 2 hours. But we made it in an hour and a-half. Trust me, this is more than Kennon road-trip to Baguio as the roads to Sabang are more zig-zag-mind-buggling-journey. Prepare Bonamine if you're not used to these kind of land travels.

Underground River tour can be done d-i-y. Again, if you're travelling in a group. But I never thought of doing it my own way as this trip can be more hassle, compared to Honday Bay tour. Here, you needed to secure permits a day before, and it's first come, first serve basis.

We were joined by seven other individuals, and was divided into two bangka. From Sabang port, we rode a motorized bangka for 20 minutes, to get into the jump-off point of the Underground River.

I can't help but noticed the lush green trees sorrounding the area. No wonder it's called the Last Frontier, as you can feel nature's genuine beauty close to you once you step into the forest. Something you can feel, perhaps, only in Palawan.

We were strongly advised not to bring plastics or any kind of plastic bags while in the vicinity. As according to our guide, monkeys are everywhere, and they're very aggressive and hungry and they have this very particular affection with 'plastics' that they tend to grab it from anyone possession.

Before proceeding to the Underground River area, we were directed to the other side of the forest where you can get upclose but not-so personal with the lizards. I have seen some of Kuya Kim's stunts here on his tv show. I wish I can hold this creatures too. 

After playing a little hide-and-seek with the lizards, we then headed to the highlight of the trip. The waiting area was filled with tourist, most of them were students from Lyceum of the Philippines who were conducting a school tour.

I asked our guide how many tourist per day do they have in the UR, the most according to him is a thousand or more during holidays and weekends. Quiet a number huh?

We had enough time for camwhoring, as there were no paddle boats available yet. Apart from the bat piss' foul smell, we enjoyed the whole scenery. A platform was made near the waiting area, for a better and closer view of the Underground River entrance. I assumed this was used by the Miss World candidates when they visited UR weeks before.

And the time has finally come.

J and I seated in the front row of the paddle boat. Making it sure to get the best view of the river and the cave, of everything.

Again, I had this one-quiet-moment for myself to thank Him for His wonderful creation.

As stated above, the UR is more than 8km long, the longest navigable underground river in the world. But only less than two kilometres is open for public.  The rest are yet to be discovered. Though, according to our guide, there are foreign and local geologist who are continuing their exploration in the underground. Reminds me of the movie Sanctum.

Travelling the spooky Underground RIver will never be complete without your most trusted boatmen. Sure they were trained how to entertain their passangers as traversing the river can be a bit boring. Good thing we had the most comic guide ever, and there was never a single dull second in our 45 minute-journey to the centre of the cave.

Different rock formation will also amaze you inside the Underground River. Common sights were the holy family, Christ-like rock formation, the Cathedral, Tom and Gerry paint marks, the last supper (only there were just four in the table, as according to our guide, the rest were done eating!)

chicken wings
nauupos na kandila
the MRT
The MRT formation marks the end of the 45-minute-much-splendid Underground River tour. Should you wish to continue your tour beyond this point, you can take the mrt, but it's not operational at the moment (joke ng guide). Haha

Seriously, I wish the remaining area of the Underground River will be open to public soon, to prove justice to its name as the longest navigable underground river. For now, I can only hope PP's number one tourist attraction and Philippines' pride will make it to the final 7 New Wonders of Nature. I think, she deserves to win. Help her win

After the much anticipated tour, we headed back to the shore. As mentioned earlier, wild monkeys in the area tend to be aggressive when they see plastic bags around. While on our way, the expected surprise guest appeared.  I heard students and other tourist behind us screaming their lungs out as the running, pugnacious monkey rushed into our way. It assaulted my unaware and guardless boyfriend, who became completely helpless after the surprise attack by the big, territorial, warriorlike  father monkey. Haha. The monkey took the plastic bag my bf was carrying, it includes our baon (2pcs saging na saba my mom bought at the port, hopia from Baker's hill, chips and bottled water.) The bottled water fell off the ground while the rest of it were gone in split seconds. We were shocked and stunned with the monkeys special rub-out skills.

While waiting for our boat, I was telling J that it was a good thing that he was unaware when the monkey ran into him, as he might battle against the mischievous creature, at makipag-agawan pa sa monkey, sa ngalang ng hopia at saging. Haha. It totally completed our extraordinary Underground River experience.

We took our lunch buffet at Sabang beach front. You can also enjoy swimming in the area as the wide shoreline, refined sand and crystal waters are very enticing.

We rested for a while, then we continued our tour to Ugong Rock. This isn't part of the package but this one is also worth your visit.

It's called Ugong Rock as the stone walls in the tiny cave creates sounds. Umuugong. This may not be as challenging as the cave connection in Sagada, but it still is quiet a sight. What makes it a little different is that you need to take the zipline goin down, which is a bit refresshing as you can get sweaty on your way up. Ugong Rock fee is 450 pesos.

Tired and exhausted, my body found comfort on  my partners shoulders while seated side by side in the serivce van. As we journey the zigzag roads back to the city, I can only wish Papa was with us to share the joy of todays' adventure. Tsk. Tsk.

Fast forward: 830PM- We dined at Ka Lui's restaurant, then we visited Baywalk afterwards.

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