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Published: December 30th 2007
We organised the package tour before we left Perth. It included transport from Puerto Princesa to Sabang, three nights accommodation, and tours to the underground caves, waterfall and mangroves. The road going to Sabang was terrible. Most of it was dirt and rock and hadn't been graded for a long time. It had been raining before we arrived at Palawan so the dirt turned to mud and in some parts I thought the driver, Bot, wouldn't get through. But we always managed, with a big smile on Bots face the whole time. The scenery was amazing though. We passed a lookout for Ulugan Bay and passed people working in the rice fields and rice drying on the side of the road (it took up half the road). There were mountains all around us.
We stayed at Bambua Nature Park. Our accommodation was really nice. The owners, Rosalie (Filipino) and Andre (German), were lovely people and we got along straight away. They had a beautiful place, palm trees, fish ponds and right next to us were the mountains. We were a kilometer from the beach.
The beach was lovely. Palm trees lined the edge of the sand, local boats bobbing
away anchored near the beach, and not many tourists. I counted ten other tourists the whole time I was at Sabang. There are only a few guest houses along the beach; only for the moment though, because we heard that the Chinese are going to build a two level hotel right along the beach, which would ruin the peaceful atmosphere. Town was right on the beach and so far hasn't been affected by tourism, which is great. The town has no power yet, so they need generators. Some people don't have generators, so have no access to power.
We had to catch a ride with a local boat to go the entrance of the underground cave. That took about half an hour and was a bit choppy. I felt a bit queasy and so did my step mum. Rosalie came with us as that was part of the package deal. She was a good guide too. These caves are very popular with tourists coming from Puerto Princesa and an average of 2000 people see the caves every day. The cave was amazing. Thousands of years old and was only discovered in the 1920's. The roof at
the highest point was sixty foot. The staliclites were huge and in the shape of mushrooms and mammoths. We saw three different types of bats. It was very cold and totally dark.
We had to walk ten minutes to get to the mangroves. I noticed that all the palm trees had chunks taken out of them like steps and realised that this is how they climb the tree. How can they do that, with no shoes? We were there at low tide and there weren't many mosquitos luckily. We saw the long roots of the trees and one area of trees had no leaves because of a lightning strike. We saw two poisonous Ventura snakes asleep in the tree. They had black and yellow rings. Rosalie explained to us how the mangrove trees are good for the ecosystem. At the end of the trip we had to plant a new mangrove to help keep the mangroves going. What a good idea!
We had to walk past town and the fisherman's village to get to the waterfall. It took us 45 minutes walking over medium sized rocks in only sandals! Not good for the feet. Rosalie
wasn't bothered by the rocks at all.
When we got to the waterfall, the walk was definitely worth it. The highest pool was sixty feet high and the fall to that pool was 25 meters. There was another drop and it flowed into the ocean. It was a humid day so the swim was very rewarding. We walked back and when we were a minute from the fisherman's village again it started to rain heavily. It was relaxing watching the rain pour and the dirt turn to mud again.
We originally decided to go to Port Barton after the three days at Sabang. We would have to go by boat to get there, which would take two hours. The bay looked a bit rough and as we were prone to seasickness, we decided not to go there. Besides, we loved Sabang. Andre, Rosalie and the kids took us to another cave. It was on the way back to Puerto Princesa, about ten minutes from Sabang. It was only 200 meters to the entrance of the cave by road but it was very muddy. Rosalie walked ahead and put out big sticks and rocks in the muddy parts
to stop us getting stuck in mud. At the entrance there is a rock that looks like a lion. The cave inside is quite big and has a few bats in there. It's funny how you only remember the bad parts of a trip. At the time I didn't enjoy walking to the cave but looking back it was quite fun!
Every morning we would go on a tour and in the afternoon we would walk to the beach. The beach was great for a swim and it was warm too. Then we would go to a hut cafe and have a buko (coconut). First they drill a hole stick a straw through. The juice is sweet and delicious. Then they cut the coconut in half and give you a spoon cut from the shell of the coconut itself so you can eat the white meat inside. The meat is also sweet.
Most tourists stay in Puerto Princesa and go to the Underground cave in one day. I don't think that is a good idea because it is a three hour return trip plus the cave tour. Unfortunately, the Lonely Planet guide book recommends this so that is
what people do. If you can, I would suggest staying at Bambua Nature Park resort (also not in Lonely Planet) and taking the tour package, which is really cheap. The food there is excellent, the staff helpful and the view amazing. My step mum found the package on the internet. The website for Bambua is http://www.bambua-palawan.com/
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