Simply Amazing!

Trip Start Oct 31, 2011
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94
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Trip End Mar 16, 2012


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Where I stayed
A&A Plaza Hotel

Flag of Philippines  , Palawan,
Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hi there

We got up early this morning, as we were leaving for our tour to Puerto Princesa Underground River at 8:30 am. The Underground River is about a one and a half hour drive from the city, I always like these drives that take us to the rural parts of the country , as the people seem so genuine, and their way of life is so different than the modern conveniences we have grown accustom to and cannot live without.

On our way out we stopped to take pictures of grey and white limestone mountains.  There are 3500 hectares of million year old grey and white limestone mountains in the area, they are now under protection, and cannot be mined.

The PP Underground River was discovered by the natives in the 18th century, however they never entered the cave, as they believed it was mystical, in 1887 an English Explorer came, and the natives took him to the mouth of the cave, but would not allow him to enter.

Before going to the underground river, we took a Mongrove Paddle Tour, this was quite beautiful, and we were paddled down a river where Mongrove trees line the sides.  Mongrove trees can only grow in Brackish water, which is a mixture of Fresh and Salt Water, there are 47 kinds of Mongrove trees, 26 are called true Mangroves, and the others are associated Mangroves, along this river, you can find 4 different kinds.  As we paddled down the river, we saw Mongrove Snakes curled up sleeping in the trees, they are poisonous, but not aggressive if you leave them alone, we also saw a python curled up in a tree.  Some of the trees are over 200 years old, the Wood Worm, which is a delicacy in these parts lives in the dead logs of Mangrove trees. A Wood worm can be as long as 3 feet and as wide as 1 inch, they eat them raw. To prepare them you make slits in the worm and squeeze out the insides, wash them and serve them up, apparently it taste much like an oyster, needless to say I did not opt for trying this special dish, which is apparently a potent aphrodisiac, explaining why many families have as many as ten children, months apart in age.

We stopped for a buffet lunch at Taraw Vista Lodge and Restaurant, lunch was served on the beach.  It was a beautiful location, the sound of the waves crashing, and the gentle breeze made for an incredible ambiance

After lunch, we took a short walk to the pier and waited to board our Cadillac boat that would take us to the entrance of the Underground River.  The boat ride was wonderful; I can hardly believe they take us out to sea in these little vessels with bamboo pontoons. The views on the way were gorgeous and it was quite exciting and a little unnerving when the big swales came rolling towards the very small vessel. When we got to the Underground River, we had to wait our turn to enter, they only allow 12 paddle boats in the cave at once, but the surroundings however were so beautiful and peaceful, that the wait was not very difficult at all.  We were also entertained by the monkeys, we were told to be very careful with our belongings, because the monkeys will try to take them, we watched as a monkey snuck behind a lady, jumped on her shoulder, reached into her pocket and made off with her cookies, man was she freaked out!

The PP Underground River is 8.2 Km long, 4.3 Km is easily navigated; the tour takes us into the cave for 1.5 km.  This is the area that is considered safe, and the remainder is being explored by scientists. I can clearly understand why it has been voted as one of the new natural Seven Wonders of the World, it is incredible.  I have no idea how to describe it, we just kept going through repeating, "Wow this is unbelievable, incredible, beautiful..."  They rock formations were beautiful; the cave is authentic, inn that they have not lit it up with lights, or added anything to enhance it; it is completely dark other than the light on your boat. As we paddled through I just kept wondering, how something like this can come to be, and how long it must have taken to form, and I guess a few times, I wondered what the possibility was that it could all come crashing down while I was having this beautiful moment. Exiting the Underground River and coming back into the light is equally beautiful, it is hard to describe the feeling, exhilarating, I guess. 

We then had to hop back onto our little wooden vessel, to get back to the pier, from there the one and a half hour ride back to our hotel in the city, our driver was skilled, and thank goodness because I thought he drove like a mad man! We made it back, and I was happy to be home, had supper and well I am blogging and they are watching a bit of TV!

What a Wonderful World! I feel blessed to be seeing this much of it; I wish you were all with me.

Love Jackie
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