The one thing you’ll notice among travelers who come out of the Underground River is that they’re in their best behavior, as if they’d been in contact with forces greater than themselves.
An entire day is allotted to the Underground River Tour, not because it’s far, but because of the long queue. Is it worth it? Yes. The wait could be a source of annoyance or heat stroke if it weren’t for the guides’ setting of expectations or the great view at the windy port, where boats to the Underground River area were docked. Must also take note that Puerto Princesa’s tour guides were methodical to a fault, as they move in clockwork operation. Comings and goings of tourists and boats are organized – they try to avoid having crowded nature shrines, it seems.
To avoid boredom during the wait, there’s also a nearby restaurant that serves Filipino food and the peculiar, slimy, raw tamilok.
The tamilok challenge
Watch Ferdie’s video in HD to enjoy the show. He came all the way from Dubai for this, and some beach loving.
A quick Googling of tamilok shines light on what the ‘exotic’ food is. It’s a saltwater clam, a wood worm, a long oyster, a catnip for the adventurous. We tried it. It was good, especially with spicy vinegar.
With the wait still not over, even after lunch (we arrived at 9 or 10am), we still had about 10 to 15 minutes to freshen up and take pictures. The boat ride that ensued was pleasant especially when rock formations started appearing before us in full regalia.
Upon arrival, we prepared for a trek. A short one, perhaps 5 minutes. Monkeys everywhere. A few naughty ones lurk not behind trees but out in the open, waiting to grab food or expensive looking bags.
Slightly surprising to find many people waiting for their turns at the end of the trek. Where paddle boats await to take nature worshippers to the cave.
When we came out of the underground tour, our crybaby toddler Jonel was sleeping, as if a gentle hand lulled her to relaxation and sleep. Such peace in a province fraught with political issues rooted in greed for natural resources.
On our boat ride back, a huge pawikan waved us goodbye, or at least I imagined it saying so. Thank you for hosting us, I whisper to the turtle and its home, hoping more generations get to see them.