Tuesday, March 11, 2008

puerto princesa day 2: the subterranean river park

our second day in puerto princesa was devoted to the subterranean river park. we got up at 6am so we could have breakfast at the asturias hotel's restaurant. they served pretty average breakfast food--longganisa, omelette, fried rice, cereal, arroz caldo.

a little before 730am, we were worrying about the status of our underground river trip. everything was done verbally, and we didn't have any contact information of the tour operator. i asked around for the driver that booked us the trip, and he was on leave for that day. thankfully, he remembered to leave word with the driver on duty, and he told us that the van will be coming along any minute.

about ten minutes past 730, a white van drove up to the hotel driveway. we were ushered into the van by len, our tour guide. inside were a couple, and the van proceeded to pick up two more couples before heading off to the underground river.

we stopped a little bit at the ulugan bay viewdeck. i didn't quite know why there was a viewdeck, because the view wasn't so special. maybe that's just me, though. we got to the dock where we were to ride boats to go to where the underground river was located. i was amazed at the gigantic rock formations found on the sea. we couldn't take pictures when we docked, though, as len was telling us to hurry.

we had to wait about fifteen minutes before we could get on our boat. there were a lot of tour groups with us that day. all visitors of the subterranean river park are required to wear a hard hat and a lifejacket, as the water inside the cave is about 27 feet deep. all of the boatmen are also trained to be your tour guides in the cave, and claustrophobics will be happy to know that these boatmen's hilarious commentary will take your mind off the dark, narrow cave.

one of the first things the boatman will tell you is, "look up at the seeleng (ceiling). do you see the brown things?" after you reply with a "yes," he will then say, "do you know what those are? those are the bat shyets (shit)! so keep your mouth closed when you look up." we were laughing so hard the whole time, it was kind of hard to take photos.

the whole trip takes about 15 to 20 minutes. even with the two-hour drive and the 15-minute boat ride, i think it's worth seeing. there are interesting stalactite and stalagmite formations, not to mention legions of bats that stare at you the whole time. it's pretty surreal.

after that, we were taken back to the dock, where we were given a blah lunch. len, our tour guide, said we could enjoy some time on the beach. we just took photos and sat on the sand until it was time to back to the city.

more photos of the puerto princesa subterranean river park.

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