Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Day 2

Puerto Princesa Underground River

Puerto Princesa Underground River, being one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, has proved to be one of the top destinations in the Philippines for local and foreign tourists. According to my research, it was known to be the longest underground river in the world until the discovery of a longer one somewhere in Mexico in 2007. Regardless, it has been enticing hundreds of tourists every day of the year!

If you're planning to visit PPUR, it is very much advisable to book your schedule at least one week in advance so that you will not ruin your prepared itinerary, like what happened to us. We were supposed to visit PPUR on our Day 1, but it turned out that all slots were fully booked for the day. It is because they only accept a maximum of 900 visitors per day so as not to disturb the bats and other life forms in the cave beyond their tolerable level. Although we did not get our expected schedule, we're still lucky enough to visit on our second day.

Visitors are expected to register first and secure a permit at the Booking Office (please see address at the end of this entry). They strictly follow a No Permit, No Entry rule. There are already lots of tour agencies which offer PPUR tour packages. They will guide you throughout the registration process, provide and arrange land and water transportation and settle park fees as well. All you've got to do is follow and enjoy yourselves. Less hassle! But you can still do all these stuff all by yourselves without availing services from tour agencies for a lesser price, of course.

We were fetched at around 7:00am by our guide. We had the whole van to ourselves. The ride to Sabang takes two hours from Puerto Princesa City proper.

Sabang Port.

From Sabang, a boat ride to the beach near the entrance of the cave takes around thirty minutes.

One of the many small islands we passed by.
Finally set foot on the beach!
At last, we're already in the beach! We're only a few steps away from the underground river. But before that, permit has to be presented first but our guide already took care of that. 

A short trail has to be traversed before arriving at the entrance of the cave. Wild monkeys and komodo dragons can be found along the way. 

After hours of travel, finally, we arrived at the entrance of the underground river! We had to wait a little bit as there's only a limited number of boats which can enter. We were five in the group but the boat can take more that's why we shared the boat with other tourists. The ones who sit at the front will hold the flashlight and point it to where the tour guide tells you to. Thinking of having a better view there, we decided to sit at the front. However, it was a wrong move! The tour guide is usually seated at the back that's why we couldn't hear him very well. He explained a lot of things, talked nonstop all throughout our journey but we missed out a lot. We even hardly hear where to point the flashlight to. Oh yeah, speaking of flashlight, holding it can get tiresome too. The flashlight wasn't too heavy at first but it will be after holding it for 30-45 minutes! 

Let's move on with my little rants, shall we? Haha!

Excitement with a little bit of fear was what I felt before going in. I used to watch a lot of thriller and horror movies so I was imagining things like what what if there's a huge anaconda or alligator in the water then suddenly our boat capsized? What if the bats get aggressive that they start attacking us? You're probably thinking I must be a paranoid, right? Hahaha! 

Anyway, off we go to the cave!

At the entrance of the cave, we could already smell something bad. According to our guide, the pungent smell comes from bats' urine and poop in the water. It just sucks at first but you'll eventually get used to the smell. That's just how it works, right?

As much as I'd like to take pictures of the cave, it is very well obvious that it isn't the best environment for photography. But my friend John still tried his best to take pictures. In my case, I just enjoyed and focused on the wonders of the stalactites and stalagmites and the thousands of bats in the cave. Occasionally, our tour guide points out rock formations which resembles different figures like a lady, a mushroom

After an hour-long journey in the darkness, light finally welcomed us outside the cave. Navigating a 4.3km-long underground river was such a great and unique experience. Puerto Princesa Underground River is indeed a proof of how wonderful nature is.

On our way back to the beach, we had the opportunity to take pictures of the monkeys and the komodo dragons. Just make sure not to give the monkeys food because they'll surely ask for more! Two monkeys even gathered around my friend thinking that he had food inside his bag!

By the time we went back to Sabang port, it was already time for lunch! Buffet lunch was already included in our tour package so the only thing left for us to do was to eat! I can't even remember what we ate there so I think there was nothing great in the food choices. Well, until our guide asked us to try this! 

This is Palawan's infamous delicacy, Tamilok. Tamilok is a wood worm which can be found in dead mangrove trees. They are best eaten raw or dipped into vinegar with calamansi and onions. As much as I'd like to try delicacies of different places, I passed on this one because I am very much scared of worms. Give me beetles, frogs or crickets, but not worms please. So I just let my friends to go on for the challenge. Here they go!    
See how long it can be? Scary! Good job, friends! I salute you! Haha!
I can't remember what my friends told us about its taste. But according to my research, although they really look like worms, they actually belong to the family of mollusks. So that might give you an idea about its tastes. So, Tamilok ended our Puerto Princesa adventures! We then went back home to fix ourselves and our things for our next destination - El Nido!

Here we come, El Nido! 

El Nido is 6 to 7 hours away from Puerto Princesa City proper. There's a few options on how to get there - either by vans or RORO (Roll On Roll Off) buses. If you're not on a budget and you want more comfort, hiring a private van is a better choice. For us, we chose to ride the bus instead since we're only a group of five and hiring a van for ourselves won't come cheap. Just keep in mind the trip schedules so you can plan ahead your activities before and after the trip. I will be including a link of a helpful website regarding transportation information at the end of this blog.

We departed from San Jose Bus Terminal in Puerto Princesa at 2:00pm, so we arrived in El Nido at around 8:00pm. We rode a tricycle to get to our hotel. Since we're exhausted from the 6hour-long travel and we will be starting our island hopping very early the next day, we quickly had our dinner, arranged our things, prepared ourselves for bed but still played one round or two of Monopoly. Hahaha!

I'll be posting our El Nido (Day 3) experience soon! 

Puerto Princesa Underground River
Booking Office: #350 Rizal Avenue, Puerto Princesa City 5300
Tel. No.: +63(48) 723-2563
Email: undergroundriver_ppsrnp@mozcom.com
For more information

Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour Package

RORO Buses
For more information

Van Services

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