Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Underground River, one of the new 7 wonders of the world?

Often, we just flippantly describe something as awesome, amazing, awe-inspiring among other adjectives. Like everyone else, I am guilty as charged. 

The past week, I had the opportunity to participate in a Q5 Field Team Conference of Avon Philippines in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.  It is dubbed as a "city within a forest". That's because the city is nestled in the vast greens of the province. The trees surrounding the city stand gracefully while others as magnificently, as possible as they welcome guests to the Philippines last frontier. 

The three day conference was packed with sessions starting as early as eight-thirty in the morning and finish at around six-thirty in the evening with very few breaks in between. But we never made a fuss. For firstly, we were there for business. And secondly, good things happen to those who wait. Our travel itinerary says we are to experience the underground river on the third day. 

The Underground River is part of the city. But don't let this fact fool you. In reality, it will take close to three hours by land to get to the wharf where the motorboats are moored. You also need to be prepared for the bumpiest and most nauseous ride of your life. It beats Baguio by a mile.  There were 18 10-seater vans that brought all of us there. And in every single van, someone would later on tell the story of at which point they just have to throw up. But I guess, it's part of the whole adventure.

The moment you get to the dock in Sabang, you'll be ferried to the island. You'll reach the jump-off point in about 20 minutes, weather or wind velocity and direction permitting. While you are on the boat, you'll be treated to the beautiful scenery around you. Ancient-looking mountains made from limestone are a sight to behold and the sea water is just plain, crazy pristine. 

When you reach the shore, be ready to get wet! 
espadrille got dripping wet but who cares?
 Upon arrival, you have to pass by and register at the registry. You need to ensure that someone will look for you, just in case he he he. 
welcome earthling!
When you've written your name and signed-up on the vote sheet, you can now proceed to the short walk towards the river bank. By the way, the sign up sheet asks your birthday. You may skip the year but another log book has to be signed which has a column for your age! Just no escaping, lol!
a five to 10 minute walk to the river bank. the trees whisper at you as you pass by
When you reach the props area, okay life vest and hard hat hut, you take your time to take in the scenery as you have to queue. We heard that everyday, it is like that. There's no lean season. As we were waiting for our group's turn, I made the mistake of putting down my small bottle of C2. In a blink of an eye, it's gone! A naughty monkey took it away and carried it towards the bend of one of the trees. Ah, I knew it. He's been throwing glances when we arrived. Cute, very cute. And he knew how to drink it. Cultured monkey, eh?
the monkey, pre-C2 incident

the place feels so serene 

all aboard and ready to explore
just magnificent
I thought that if I can't tour inside the cave, I'd be just as happy and content. I was wrong. I would have missed so much, if I didn't!
our tour guide, kuya Rogel. been telling the story of the Underground River for 16 years. very engaging guide!
As he was paddling our way in the cave, he starts his tale with the precautions one has to take when in the underground river. Mind you, it's the only in the world that's navigable by water. According to him, the river had already been discovered more than a hundred years ago. In fact the first explorers were some American soldiers who left markings on the cave's wall. 

But the cave was only open to the public's exploration in the early 70s. Interestingly, the cave has two distinct water type, salt and fresh water. Inside the cave, the right side has some sea coral formations due to the saltiness of the water. 

Armed with only a 5-megapixel camera (thanks to my iPhone), the photos I took didn't do justice to the magnificence of the entire place. The river and the cave runs for about 8.5 kilometers. If you complete the journey it will take more than 3 hours to navigate it entirely. However, after the 3 kilometer stretch, exploration requires already different type of permit and preparation. The innermost space of the cave is already without breathable oxygen. 

Yet, that 45 minute stretch already offers you an awesome glimpse of God's creativity. The amazing formation of stalactites and stalagmites allows one to see beautiful sculptures attributable to known beings such as sea creatures and famous people or tableau in history. 

The highest point in the cave known as the cathedral is about 2,000 ft above sea level. It's just wow. You would gape at it, I guarantee. Jaw dropping. 

There is no substitute to knowing how magnificent this natural wonder is. You have to experience it for yourself. Book your tour now. And be one of those who have came in before the world recognizes it as the new 7 wonders of the world. Click here.
patiently waiting. who wouldn't if this your backdrop?

(P.S. I shall add more photos tomorrow. Come visit, again.)

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