My Underground River Tour story..

Akhiirrnya ke Underground River juga!

The moment to visit the famous Underground River of Palawan had finally arrived! We had to pre booked our tour one day before we reached Puerto Princesa for 1200 Pesos per person. We were considered lucky to be able to get our entry pass in a short notice, because some people literally book it months in advance in order to secure a place!! Well, since voted as one of the new 7 worlds Wonders of NATURE in November 2011, the Underground River got crazily crowded. Before it was famous, no more than 10 people daily came to Underground River. Now, the government has to make a regulation limiting the number of visitors at 700 per day.

Untuk yang nggak tau, Underground River (sungai bawah tanah) di Palawan Filipina ini adalah salah satu keajaiban dunia kategori ALAM yang baru kepilih di tahun 2011 kemaren. Mangkanya lagi heboh-hebohnya dibicarain dan dikunjungin turis lokal Filipin maupun dari seluruh dunia..termasuk Indonesia, yaitu Gue. 😀 Gue berhasil ngedapetin paket wisata kesana seharga Rp.275.000 per orang, termasuk paket antar jemput, tiket masuk dan makan siang. Nggak mahal sih menurut gue. Kata orang, gue beruntung banget karena bisa dapet “jatah” berkunjung tanpa ngantri dulu. Soalnya orang-orang tuh banyak yang udah booking selama berbulan-bulan untuk bisa dapat jatah datang kesini. Pemerintah sendiri harus membatasi jumlah turis sebanyak 700 orang per hari di sana, supaya tidak terlalu membludak dan malah berpotensi merusak lingkungan.

Our tour picked us up as early as 6 a.m.! Hoaammm.. I fell asleep during the two hours trip to Sabang Port. It wasn’t that crowded when we got there.GOOD! The tour guy took care of the entry tickets and prepared our transfer from Sabang to the river, while we sat under a tent set up for tourists. We waited for less than 30 minutes, and then led to board our boat. I think we were one of the first boats departing to the river. Around 15 minutes later, we arrived at this beach with scenic view and walked several minutes to a cove, which was where the actual river tour begins and ends. We saw a couple of small paddleboats with passengers heading in before our turn. Woohoooo!!

Gue dijemput di hotel (di kota Puerto Princesa Filipina) jam 6 pagi, dan perjalanan ke pelabuhan Sabang untuk bisa menyebrang ke Underground River mengambil waktu 2 jam. Sampai disana, kita naik kapal selama 15 menit-an untuk bisa sampai ke pantai yang adalah “pintu” masuk ke Underground River. Habis itu, kita semua dikasih perlengkapan untuk bisa masuk ke Underground River, berupa helm dan jaket pelampung. Semuanya sangat terorganisir. Sehabis itu, gue nunggu giliran untuk bisa masuk…

front beach – underground river area

the entrance – jalan masuk

posing while waiting for my turn

We put on helmets to protect us from the rock, water drop and bat drop as well. 😀 I sat in the very front, which means I got a duty controlling the big spotlight (one halogen lamp). My job was to move the spotlight to any direction the boatman instructed. He paddled us in and the the rock formations inside the cave amazed me! It’s quite hard to accept that they were not purposely formed by skilled men. It was truly God’s wonder to witness. Our boatman had many knowledge to share with us; even most of what he’s saying was not scientific or fact-based information. It was more like describing the shape of various rock formations… eggplant shape, mushroom shape..corn shape..,etc. Those numerous stalactite and stalagmite formations were really really cool to see. The most awesome part for me was the high ceiling which was really tall that even the spotlight couldn’t reach. Keren banget…There were thousands of bats inhabit the cave and clinging to the ceiling so it was advised not to look up with our mouths open. HA!

Untuk bisa masuk ke dalam Underground River, kita musti naik sebuah perahu kecil yang terdiri atas 10 orang termasuk tour guide-nya. Duduknya dua-dua ngejejer ke belakang dan si pemandu duduk paling belakang. Harus ada satu orang pengunjung yang duduk paling depan dan bertugas untuk memegang lampu gede untuk menerangi jalan sepanjang meyusuri sungai. Di grup gue, gue-lah yang bertugas pegang lampu. Hohoho. Begitu giliran perahu kecil gue masuk ke dalam GUA dimana Underground River ini berada, rasanya merinding soalnya gelap gulita banget dan dingin. Dengan bantuan si lampu yang gue pegang, kita bisa melihat aliran sungai yang ada, plus semua keajaiban alam yang ada didalamnya. Stalagtit dan stalagnit yang bergantung didalam gua menciptakan bentuk-bentuk indah yang keren. ‘Atap’ dari gua ini pun sangat tinggi sehingga kadang ada yang tidak bisa terlihat walau sudah dikasih cahaya. Disini juga rumah untuk ribuan kalelawar yang lagi asyik tidur gelantungan waktu kita dateng. Aturannya sih jangan kelamaan buka mulut sambil liat keatas!

the bats

After around 20 minutes inside the cave, the boatman paddled right back out along the same route (total of around 40 minutes tour). I think the natural phenomena were awesome and the pictures taken with a low light flash just didn’t do the cave justice! We walked back to the white sand beach where our boat docked, passing the forest with big trees surround the area. There were monkeys there and I also met a monitor lizard (biawak) on the way. Then we sailed towards the Sabang port where our lunch had waited for us (lunch was included the tour package).

Setelah 20 menit di dalam gua misterius sambil mengagumi ciptaan Tuhan, kita pelan-pelan keluar dari gua dengan rute yang sama. (Total tur 40 menit). Underground River ini sendiri merupakan sungai bawah tanah terpanjang didunia yaitu sampai 8km lebih, tapi yang bisa di telusuri pakai perahu hanya sekitar4 km. Untuk turis hanya boleh masuk sampai beberapa ratus meter saja. Sisanya masih diteliti oleh pemerintah dan tidak dibuka untuk umum. Kebayang yang jauh didalam sana ada apaan aja ya? Pasti keren sekaligus menyeramkan banget menurut gue. Karena didalam gua sangat gelap, foto-foto yang gue ambil sangat terbatas. Sangat nggak adil hasilnya dibandingkan pemandangan aslinya.

high ceilings inside the cave

I couldn’t believe that around 1 pm we were already got back in Puerto Princesa. SO FAST! I want my money back! Hehehe 😀 Oh, what to do next? I remembered this place called “Baker’s Hill” I found while browsing the internet. I thought some sweet treats and good bread wouldn’t hurt anybody, right.  So, we took a tricycle to get there. It was quite hard to find one who wanted to drive us all the way up to the hill, outside Puerto Princesa centre. Understandable.

When I arrived, my first impression was nothing special about the place. It had some Disney characters statues, greenery, and various different food outlets. I tried their famous ‘hopia’ but it tasted just ordinary for me. So, what’s so unique about being here? I got my own answer.

Setelah keluar dari gua, kita ketemu sama banyak penghuni hutan yang ada di pulau itu yaitu monyet dan biawak-biawak besar yang dibiarkan berkeliaran disana sini. Kita pun naik kapal dan kembali ke pelabuhan untuk menikmati makan siang dan kemudian diantar balik ke kota Puerto Princesa. Sampai di hotel gue kaget karena ternyata masih jam 1 siang. Bentar banget ya tur-nya. Mati gaya nih. Musti ngapain coba sampai sore? Untung gue inget ada satu tempat makan yang terkenal di Puerto Princesa bernama “Baker’s Hill”. Tempatnya nggak terlalu spesial sih sebenarnya. Makanannya juga biasa aja. Gue nyobain ‘HOPIA’, produk cemilan andalan mereka yang berupa bakpia. Pas dicoba, masih enakan bakpia Semarang ke mana-mana ternyata. Huhuhu. Untungnya gue menemukan satu makanan khas Puerto Princesa yang WAJIB dicoba disini.

A few hours before, we saw this ‘food’ being sold near the Sabang Beach but I passed. Here, the same one offered at one of their food stands. Hm maybe it’s about time to try it! The locals called it “Tamilok”. It’s considered as their famous delicacy. Tamilok is a wood WORM a.k.a cacing! It has a white, long, slender and slimy body and we ate it RAW with the help of vinegar and chili. Unexpectedly, it was not as gross tasting as I thought it would be. It tasted quite okay actually. I ate 2 to confirm. HA! Some people said that it’s actually not a worm. It is a mollusk living inside the branches of mangrove trees. Whatever. I ate them, and that’s the main point.

Nama makanannya ialah TAMILOK. Bentuknya basah-basah gitu, berlendir, kenyal, berwarna putih dan sangat mencurigakan. Hahahaha. Setelah dilihat lebih dekat, ada matanya. Yak, tamilok ini adalah cacing mentah yang diambil dari pepohonan mangrove. Makannya harus dalam keadaan mentah (hidup maupun mati) di campur cuka plus cabe. Ini hanya untuk mereka yang berani coba….dan gue pun memberanikan diri untuk makan satu! Lalu lanjut dua, and terakhir tiga! Soalnya ternyata rasanya enak, mirip kerang gitu. Asal jangan ada yang ingetin kalo itu adalah cacing mentah, pasti pengen nambah terus.

my TAMILOK!

So, that was a story of my Puerto Princesa experience. The Underground River, Tamilok, and everything else in between.NICE.

Jalan-jalan hari ini selesai dengan segudang pengalaman baru. Waktunya istirahat sambil menikmati kuliner lainnya, yaitu babi guling khas Puerto Princesa plus nasi panas. Enak!

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nothing about God’s creation is average. -olivelatuputty.com -@shiningliv

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One comment to My Underground River Tour story..

  • desa sawarna  says:

    Thanks for finally talking about > My Underground River Tour story..

    – Olive Latuputty < Liked it!

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