Thursday, February 16, 2017

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River

Image from Wikipedia
The complete name is Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. But locals simply call it "underground river." It's a protected area in Palawan and is more popularly called by tourists as Puerto Princesa Underground River.

It was even "provisionally" picked as belonging to the 7 Wonders of the World (according to Wikipedia) in November 2011.

The underground river is located in the caves under the Saint Paul Mountain Range that dominates the western coast of the island. Yup, most caves, I heard, are underwater. You travel inside them by small boats. Anyway, there is a boat tour available.

To reach the site, you either hike or take a boat from Sabang. And being the Local Hiker, I'd like to go there by hiking. I haven't been there yet, but it's easy to reach. Simply take a plane or boat to Puerto Princesa in Palawan and proceed to Sabang. But of course, the travel is not as easy as it sounds.

A friend told me how they encountered high seas recently on their way to Palawan. This time of year (January to March) it's often like that.

What do you find in the underground river? Well, for starters, massive caves and tunnels beyond your imagination. Strange and also massive stalactite and stalagmite formations that sometimes resemble human forms, and other eerie rock formations. Plus what geologists discovered to be a "second floor" that indicates the presence of waterfalls.

There are large bats and something in the river that would excite divers---a deep hole that leads further down. There are several river channels and countless marine creatures. More areas of the underground river remain unexplored due to lack of oxygen in those places.

Another friend, Jun, who went there about 4 years ago, said there is an immense area in the underground river that looks like a cathedral---some call it a giant dome---as if you were inside a vast cathedral with a very high ceiling and a lot of religious artworks. It is said to inspire worship to God. I can now imagine the very light, almost inaudible organ playing pervading in that "cathedral," the gentle whispers of the notes softly bouncing against the rocks.

In fact, I read somewhere that angels probably gathered there for a Sunday worship service, or something like that.

For some reasons, cameras and videos aided with lights are prohibited inside the caves. Probably, they might affect the rock formations or something. But boat tourist guides know what portions of the underground river are safe for lights and they aim their spotlights on interesting sights of the caves for tourists to see.

Definitely, no touching of anything there. You are not allowed to take with you "souvenirs" of any sort---definitely not the stalactites or stalagmites. I just marvel how nature patiently "sculptured" these amazing rock formations for centuries, one drop of water at a time. Of course, it was God who did all the artwork using nature and the natural processes therein.

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