Jungles, Beaches and More - 30th Birthday!
Trip Start Nov 12, 2011
47Trip End Aug 18, 2012
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Sukhia and I have agreed on a few spots that we both want to see in the Philippines. However, Sukhia gave me free reign to pick where we were going to be to celebrate my 30th birthday. Trekking through the jungles of Palawan and checking out one of the New Natural Wonders of the World seemed like a great way to celebrate the day.
The town of Sabang is located on the West Coast of Palawan and is the jumping off point to make it to the subterranean river. It is a small fishing village that now caters to tourists, but in a very laidback way. It also has one of the nicest beaches that we have visited thus far on our travels. There is virtually no debris and no rocks and corals, just lots and lots of sand. The beach slopes nicely into the water, which creates waves that are big enough to body surf and play in, but not quite big enough to take you out (although we saw a few others get thrown around a bit). Just off the beach is a sandy path that splits the beach from the various resorts and guesthouses.
As it was my birthday trip I got to choose the place. No splurge necessary! Just a simple bungalow that was close enough to the water to hear the waves crashing and a fan that ran from 6pm to 6am. We did, however, luck out a bit. We made new friends (Jonathan and May) on our liveaboard trip to Tubbataha who happened to be staying in the brand new 5-star resort that was directly next to our guesthouse. What did this mean? Cocktails in the ridiculously large pool, nice meals in the hotel restaurant and a bit of hanging out in their paradise of a room (think Shangri-La or Fairmont Pacific Rim).
As for the day of my birthday itself, I woke up with a dip in the ocean and then Sukhia and I began our trek through the jungle. The path starts along the beach and then slowly works its way behind the limestone cliffs that line the shore between Sabang and the underground river. Sounds from monkeys and birds were the only company we had on our trek as it appeared everyone else had opted to take a boat directly to the site as opposed to hiking. Upon arriving at the mouth of the river there were indeed a lot of tourists, each of whom vied for the best spots to take pictures of one another along the shore of the river (we definitely got the best spot… I'm just saying).
While we had met quite a few people who had told us that the river was too hyped up and not really all that memorable, we both loved it. We rode in a small boat that was paddled by our guide who insisted that every single stalactite resembled some sort of a vegetable, "and that we call the zucchini, and that one we call the carrot, and that one we call the eggplant, and so on". Despite the running pro-vegan commentary, the tour was awesome. At one point we entered a cavern that was 200 feet high, about as wide as a football field and featured a huge stalactite in the very centre of the 'room’. This one was called the candle as apparently our guide was out of phallic vegetables to refer to.
The rest of the day brought two more dips in the ocean, being treated by Jonathan and May to a lovely lunch back at their resort (thank you!!!), a mid-afternoon nap on my hammock and a seaside dinner alone with my loving wife. All I can think to say is thank you universe for providing me with such a memorable 30th birthday.
Next stop: Cebu City
Sabang gave us some much needed R & R after our arduous liveaboard trip to Tubbataha on the Apo Explorer. Sabang’s beach was amazing and although I would have preferred the luxury hotel next to us, it was Sacha’s birthday and if he did not mind not having a toilet seat and no power at certain times, I would survive.
The underground river was very neat, the funniest part was our boat guide who would paddle and talk us through the tour but as he was paddling he couldn’t control the light, so that job fell to Sacha. Each time the guide would want to speak about another rock shaped zucchini he would ask Sacha to illuminate the subject but it was very hard to understand what the guide wanted with his tanglish (English and Tagala). In the video attached, you can hear a little of what Sacha had to decipher, “sir sir forward, left sir, up sir, down sir, down, down sir”.
It was a relaxing and enjoyable time in Sabang, spent with new friends, playing in the ocean and exploring the jungle, I highly recommend this as a short holiday destination.