Monday, July 14, 2008

Philippines: Sabang (July 6-9)

On Monday morning, C2 and I headed out to Sabang, two hours north of Puerto Princessa by car. On our way to Sabang, we passed by Vietville, a village with only 7 remaining Vietnamese families, refugees from the war; most have either emigrated to North America or been sent back to Vietnam. Sabang’s main attraction, the Subterranean River, is renowned to be the longest river-traversed tunnel in the world.

On our way to Sabang we encountered this bus/jeepney. Talk about full capacity!

The whole tour of the river only takes 45 minutes but it is very unique. It is pitch black except for one flashlight in the front. The tour guide/navigator is in the back. He is very entertaining. He screams out where to point the flashlight and what the stalactite and stalagmite formations resemble such as bacon, mushroom, a sexy Sharon Stone and obviously, different people from the Bible. The cave was full of bats and I tried to shelter my camera from drops of water (or maybe they were bat droppings…). I’m not sure the pictures really capture the experience but here goes.

All decked out in safety equipment to go underground. Behind me is the entry to the cave.

Bats were flying everywhere and I was lucky to catch one with my camera.

Formation from the top is stalactite (and bottom is stalagmite - sometimes they meet to form columns).

I don’t remember what this was supposed to look like but it’s cool anyway.

This resembles a bird.

Outside of the cave were wild monkeys that were very much accustomed to humans. One tried to whack my camera away when I tried to take its picture. They do not like paparazzi! Supposedly they also like to grab plastic bags. I was lucky enough to spot atop a tree a baby monkey and its mother.

In Sabang, we met up with The Gastronomer and The Astronomer, who fell in love with the beach there. Who wouldn’t fall for the beautiful turquoise water? The sand was also perfectly fine and soft. The water was clear very far out. So we decided to stay in Sabang for the remainder of our stay in Palawan. We stayed at Michi’s but went swimming to the nicer beach at Mary’s next doors. The two owners are cousins.

The huts we stayed in had very basic amenities: electricity from 6-10 pm (run by a generator) and cold water. This is definitely not what I’m used to. I usually have the AC turned on all night in HCMC! As well, this meant we had to walk in the dark in the evening; C2 would light our path with her cell phone to avoid buffalo excrement on our path to our hut! The up side to this was that the sky was so clear, we could see millions of stars!

Michi’s “Cottages”.

This was our simple hut.

Beautiful palm trees by the beach.

View of the beach from my lounge chair.

Local kids taking a dip.

I tried to catch the sunset but it was behind the mountain.

Some pink morning colours.

On our last full day in the Philippines, we decided to hike to the Subterranean River because The Gastronomer and The Astronomer had not seen it. However, we realized we had to cross a section of water before starting the hike. Not wanting to get wet and then having to hike (ok! I’m wimpy! I also had an injured ankle from our volcano hike!), I backed out and spent my day by the beach. Supposedly, the hike was a two hour affair; I’m glad I didn’t go!

Last glimpse at the beach by Mary’s before we left.

The day of our departure, we were told that the bus back to Puerto Princessa was leaving at 10 am but we should be there at 9 am because it would just leave when it was full. We obviously did not know how Philippino time works!! We arrived at 9 am and it was confirmed that the bus would leave at 10 am. We sat in the bus well past 11 am; that's when we realized that this bus might not leave on time for us to make our flight! Supposedly, there was an issue with a lack of driver?! We finally got out to make alternate plans to rent a minivan. The Gastronomer and The Astronomer ordered breakfast. At 12: 15 pm, the bus decides to leave and we hopped on. The bus ride was over 2.5 hours, stopping for everything: people threw nipa on the roof, a tire,… Our two hour window for lunch diminished to no window but at least we made our flight!

All in all, I had a lovely time in the Philippines. I think it is an underrated destination and should be considered when in South East Asia.

The bus that would not leave...

The Gastronomer has her breakfast to go.


Mom said...

The picture is coconut trees ,it's not palm .

Gastronomer said...

your pictures of the sunset are GORGEOUS!