Day 14: Sabang
The World Heritage Convention defines types of natural, cultural, or mixed properties that may be inscribed on the World Heritage List. Natural properties are sites of intense beauty that maintain the environmental balance of a region or of the world, or sites that show a unique geological origin that was made from the formation of the earth. Cultural properties are man-made and demonstrate the highest achievements of human thought and creativity. There are also mixed properties, called “cultural landscapes” on the World Heritage List, that combine outstanding natural and cultural values resulting from constant interaction between people and the natural environment.
After unpacking, we decided to hike to the Underground River via the jungle trail. We then had to secure a permit first before heading off to the hike. I only remember that there was the monkey trail, which goes through the beach-forest and the jungle trail that goes through the forest. But before coming to Malipien, the Park Ranger Station, you have to cross the mangrove forest and the river. With a small donation, the boatman at the mangrove river will take you to the other side of the river (or you can opt to walk on the beach area). The beach area was pretty secluded, and at the time of this writing, the zip line from the park’s entrance was not yet operational.
Anyhow the trails close at 15:00 (3:00 p.m.). It gets dark at 18:00 (6:00 p.m.) and there were no rangers around, so apparently, no one would like to be lost in the jungle. We were already halfway when we realised that the monkey trail (a few meters shorter and a bit more accessible) was blocked. No one told us at the tourist office in Sabang. Anyway, turning back was never an option, so we braved the trails and into the depths of the jungle, going up and down on partly steep rocks.
All of a sudden, it became totally dark almost like night. Then a heavy rain drenched us really good. I brought a small LED light with me, knowing that it could be dark inside the forest even at daytime, but didn’t bring any raincoat or good cover at least for my camera. I did my undergraduate research at this park (together with my BS Biology classmates from Palawan State University), so I have a little inkling of how it is there. This is a tropical rainforest with somehow overlapping perennial, beach and mangrove forest.
On some parts, the way was clearly marked, but at some, you really need to hold on to the outgrowths and become monkey-like. It was a whole lot better than LOST. Some existing wood and bamboo railings were full of black ants it’s just impossible to hold on to it. The way eventually got muddy and slippery, so our slippers were getting stuck and make the climbing more difficult. My friend slipped and fell on his butt, landed on the mud a couple of times during our descent. That was something for the books. LOL.
Eventually, we met oncoming tourists, which somehow a relief coz we thought we were all alone in the jungle. We come to another rocky hill and down again to a boulder with a little cave. I’ve already taken off my wet shirt and already bathing in a mixture of rain and my own sweat. It was indeed a great experience but didn’t want to repeat it, at least not on the same day.