Day 157: Sabang

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February 20th 2010
Published: March 5th 2010
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We left Puerto Princesa early in the morning on a minibus bound for Sabang. Sabang is famous for it's underground river, which at 8 km long is supposedly the longest in the world.

As popular as the underground river is, the town of Sabang is still pretty undeveloped. Most people do a day trip from Puerto Princesa and don't stay the night. There are still no power lines or phone lines, so every place with power has its own generator. For some reason my dad picked a guest house that was in the jungle even though Sabang has plenty of beautiful beach side spots. That was the last time we let him pick the place.

That afternoon we went on a tour of the underground river. The tour starts by getting on a pump boat that leaves Sabang and goes for 15 minutes north. The karst scenery on the way is pretty awesome, although it pales in comparison to what we later saw in El Nido. The boat drops you off in a sandy cove, where you walk to the mouth of the cave.

On the way to the cave there is a picnic area that is home to a bunch of monkeys and a few monitor lizards. Monkeys are a dime a dozen but we'd never seen monitor lizards before. I think they're the second largest lizard in the world if I remember correctly, and these ones are really tame. I took a picture of a lizard next to a monkey so you can see how big they are.

We walked to the mouth of the cave, and had to wait for a while for another small boat to take us in. Finally we boarded the boat, along with our guide/rower and three other tourists. The girl sitting in the very front got to hold a light that was hooked up to a car battery. The guide was very friendly and talked for most of the tour.

The tour only goes 1.5 km in to the cave, but it still felt like a really long way. The guide kept pointing out different features, but the girl with the light must have impaired motor skills because she could never seem to point to what he was talking about. There is an area dubbed the "cathedral" because there are stalagmites that look like the virgin mary and the last supper. There's a stalactite that looks like a naked lady called "Sharon Stone" (with extra emphasis on the "stone"). There was one place where the ceiling rose to I think 50 meters, which was really impressive.

My favorite part would have to be the bats. As we got deeper and deeper we realized that the black dots on the ceiling were sleeping bats. In some points they were packed almost shoulder to shoulder for huge patches, 5 feet wide by 20 feet long. Apparently near dusk the swarm out of the cave to go hunting. Unfortunately we had to leave before that.

After the boat dropped us outside the cave, we decided to go a different way back and followed the river to the ocean. There was a really nice stretch of beach that was surprisingly uncrowded considering the traffic that the underground river sees. A nice end to the tour.

That night we slept ok until the generator turned off at midnight, and there was no ocean breeze to cool us down. We also had a blast packing in the dark for our 6 am boat to Port Barton.

Here's some pictures!


5th March 2010

I have loved your commentaries and photos of this remarkable journey you have been taking together! Thank you for your details, photos, and musings. I feel like I have been taken along on the ride...So much beauty you have taken in - to last a lifetime! The Daddy, Daddy incident sure sounded anxiety-producing and scarey though! And I imagine you surely saw abundant poverty and pollution. Mary's photo of the river was ghastly! I'm glad you were able to be so immersed in nature...Love, Nancy

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