Puerto Princesa: Underground River
After our successful Day 1 in Puerto Princesa, Marj and I woke up early for the Underground River tour. We booked this along with last night's Iwahig Firefly Watching (story HERE), so I felt kampante that we're in good hands even with a rather plan-less trip.
We paid a total of Php 2700 each for both the tours, inclusive of meal and transportation to and from your hotel. I can't remember the specific breakdown, but more or less a tour costs from Php 1200 to 1500. A bit pricey, but very convenient.
Anyway, so after packing our stuff, we're all set to check-out from GoHotels for our second accommodation for the trip. Things are falling into place as the tour group allowed us to bring our maletas at the back of the car since Sheridan Palawan Beach Resort is already near the Underground River - an hour or so ride from where we were (town proper).
The van ride was a roller coaster, and our tour guide was super ready for it with his warnings and jokes! Unlike our group from last night, this one's all-Pinoy. Instead of catching up some sleep, I kept up during the whole 1.5-hour ride because it was impossible to doze off from all the bumps and wild turns. There's no other way! Kuya kept on asking us if we're okay, haha.
Anyway, in 30 minutes we had a calculated stop-over for drinks, fresh air, enjoy the view deck, stretch our legs, and buy some souvenirs. I wore a rash guard going here, when I realized it was hot that day and we're not getting wet naman. So I used the break to change into a shirt and buy plastic protector for my phone.
Another half hour of van ride till we finally reached the port area. Everything's handled na by our tour guide so we just aimlessly walked in the area, took photos, and catch water Pokemon.
Boats were numbered, and even though it is off-season, I still saw a fair amount of tourists that day. They managed everything well though, di naman ako nainip from the waiting.
Our group was divided to two so we can fit this small bangka:
And, like any Palawan boat ride, the view was a treat:
Obligatory pose by the Underground River signage, hehe. As in everyone lined up for this!
We were briefed by our guide all-throughout the tour: Do not open your mouths wide inside the cave, (bat poop alert!), be aware of the monkeys (they steal stuff), etc.
In a way, I appreciate all their initiatives to keep the environment safe for the wildlife, and still enjoyable for the tourists. I am happy to see this because at least I know it's something that my future children and children's children can still enjoy! Keep it up, guys! Hehe.
They then provided everyone with earphones for the talk-through. You can set it in your preferred language (English, Filipino, Korean, etc.)
Again, riding the smaller bangka was by batch. They timed it so that it doesn't crowd inside the main attraction. While waiting, we took more turista and nature pictures, wore our helmets, and before we knew it, it was our group's turn.
Off we go to one of the New7Wonders of the world!
Although the recorded tour was packed with information and trivia especially created for the tourists, I also enjoyed listening to manong taga-sagwan. I decided to take-off my earphones so I can listen to him instead - He was hilarious with his stoic voice! How many times had he delivered same lines and jokes to tourists per day!? Haha! He made the ride more entertaining!
Sobrang praning ako sa bat poop warning, didn't even smile for this photo, hahaha!
Inside, the smell was weird because of the minerals and bat poop. It was cool and dark in a nice way, I can't even differentiate the water from the stones if not for kuya's flashlight beaming to show different shapes here and there. He made the tour seem like we were star gazing or playing "guess the shape of the clouds", but pertaining to the rock formations.
Bats lined the ceiling:
Giant melting candle at the cathedral:
Full back-view body of a woman, can you see it?
I have to be honest, I was so bad at this! Haha! If it was not super obvious, hindi ko makita nasaan yung "gulay" or "animal" that kuya was pertaining to! Nakakatawa coz I took one million pictures, only to realize na super dilim, super blurry, or hindi ko na maalala ano yung kinukunan ko, haha! Anyway, it was still an amazing feeling to be there, a 1-hour boat ride to a Philippine wonder recognized by the world.
We went in barely half of the Underground River, before turning around again for the exit. Sabi nila, going further is not allowed dahil manipis na ang hangin making it harder to explore.
And finally, we're back!
After the tour, we had a lot of free time. We strolled around, checked out the souvenir shirts, and met the infamous monkey they were warning us about. He looked harmless, by the way. Hehe. Then finally had the buffet lunch before calling it a day.
I feel like... someone's watching me?
It was still early when we finished the tour, plenty of time to swim and just laze around. The ultimate agenda for this trip, actually! We reached our second hotel in just 15 minutes, said goodbye to our tour group, while I skipped a little while entering the fanciness of Sheridan Palawan. I can't help it, I am so excited for this part of the trip! We intentionally booked for Sheridan's poolside room so we can just relax and swim and order drinks anytime we want.
We had no other plans but just to spend the next days in this part of the world, and I can't wait to show you how it just won me over and now owns the top spot of my most favorite beach in the world!