Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Day 2 (Saturday, March 5)
First of all, I need to make it clear that I'm not a morning person, secondly I have never hiked in my entire 36 years of existence and thirdly I live a sedentary life so any form of vigorous physical activity would merit a total meltdown.
Alright having said all that, allow me to relate what occurred on the second day of my trip.

I have to warn you this is going to be a rather LONG post and I am going to whine A LOT! :D

  • 05:00 am - I woke up way before the wake up call which was set for 05:30. So I took a long hot shower, got dressed and patiently watched CNN while waiting for my sister to get ready. But I was still very sleepy and a bit cranky.

  • 06:00 am - We have breakfast at the coffee shop.

  • 07:00 am - The lobby waiting for the other guests who will join us for the tour. So the tour entailed a 2 hour van ride passing through 12 barangays to reach Sabang Wharf. Herman our guide (yes the same guy) told us that the first hour would be on paved road and the rest of the way would be through a dirt road (meaning a bumpy ride). Upon reaching Sabang Wharf we were to take an outrigger boat for about 20 minutes to reach the Underground River Cave. Once there, we would have a tour of the cave for 45 minutes. So ok fine that seemed pretty exciting and we couldn't wait to get there.

  • 08:20 am - This time aside from my sister and I there were 4 Polish divers (3 guys and 1 woman) and the same couple who were on their honeymoon. The minute our van reached the dirt road we all started shaking and bouncing wildly. Yes it was a very bumpy ride. I asked Herman how come they didn't pave the road and he told us that it was part of the adventure. Like some sort of massage, body shaker thingie. But heck I wasn't amused at all. Anyways, the driver tells us we got a flat tire. So we stop in the midst of a luscious tropical rain forest and disembark while they changed the tire. I should have taken the flat tire as a sign of the tough task ahead! But I was enjoying the scenery - the tall green trees, their leaves vibrant, the air was crisp, overcast skies and a slight drizzle cooled our shaken bodies.

  • 09:20 am - we reach Sabang Beach. Now this is where it gets very frustrating. It turns out that due to the gloomy weather, the outriggers boats cannot be used to reach the cave. The water was very choppy and the waves too high and it would be too risky to sail.

  • Tempers flare up, most of the foreigners get really loud and shout at the guide. It seems that normally the Coast Guard issue warnings to all the hotels that the weather is bad. Thus the hotel can arrange for alternative tours instead of going to Sabang. BUT this time there was NO warning, so we were stranded there at the wharf. After appeasing some of those who got really angry and wanted refunds etc, Herman told our group that there is an alternative way to reach the cave. A 2 hour hike/trail through 3 mountains called the monkey trail. But since it was closed for renovation we would be using the jungle trail. There was a lot of confusion since some of them wanted to leave, the others didn't feel they could handle the hike, while the rest wanted to try since after all we were already there so we might as well go for it, right? I told my sister well I guess I can handle 2 hours. We won't get the chance again. We were leaving the next day.

  • 10:25 am - We wasted too much time, trying to sort out the mess. The group (who opted for the hike) made our way to the trail.

  • We walked on dirt roads

    Stepped on stone paths!

    Climbed ladders and crossed bridges

    Deep in the jungle

    Passed by tall mountains

    I was drenched in sweat, thirsty because we drank all our mineral water, I was hungry, dehydrated, my legs were hurting, my back was breaking. But I preserved because after all I chose to hike instead of going back to the hotel.
    Guess how long it took me and my sister to get there???
    4 hours!!! YES really. We would stop every 15 minutes to rest and let the other people go ahead of us. Till eventually it was just the two of us but we could hear people still behind us in the group. There were times when I could no longer move. I was going to faint from exhaustion. The group got separated because some moved on ahead (especially the foreigners with their big steps) others like the elderly parents of a couple we were with were way back behind. It took them 6 hours to reach the cave.

  • 14:20 pm - we reach the Underground River Cave. Take note we haven't eaten lunch YET and we hiked 4 hours to get there. I was shaking like a leaf so tired from hunger, exhaustion and thirst! I noticed that other groups were having their packed lunch at the little cottages located on the grounds of the cave. I asked Herman (he got there way ahead of everyone else, he is like Superman!) when are we having our lunch? He told me once we go back down, we would have lunch at a restaurant located at Sabang Beach.

  • Underground River

    Underground River Cave entrance

  • 14:30 pm - we wear life vests and a hard hat and join 4 other people on a small boat for our Underground River cave tour. By this time I was simply too freaking tired to care. Since we were seated in the front of the boat, we were tasked to hold the light which would illuminate the cave. So we could see the different stone formations. It was very dark, I was trembling with hunger, still drenched in sweat, I truly didn't have the energy to enjoy the tour. I kept thinking of the hike back down. How terrified I was that my sister and I would get caught in the jungle in the dark as evening approaches. I could feel my stomach grumbling, my sugar level was extremely low.

  • 15:30 pm - the tour finally over, I was hoping that the sea would have calmed down by now so we could take a boat back. But no such luck! We had to go back the same way we got there. In essence we crossed 3 mountains, through the deep jungle to reach the place. Amazingly enough there were no wild animals attacks or anything of that sort. But I was scared that I would slip and fall. Or that some tribal people would have me for dinner. Or worse that some terrorist group would kidnap me for ransom. I had all these crazy ideas in my head. I was delirious. It must have been the hunger!

  • 17:29 pm - Barely past the 2nd mountain, I am extremely exhausted, I sat down on a rock and completely lost it. Yes I cried. I bawled my eyes out. I kept telling my sister "I can't do this! I don't have any energy left". I couldn't feel my legs, my muscles were aching so much I couldn't move, I was stricken with fear. We still had NOT eaten LUNCH, we had no water to drink. I kept looking at my watch, I had no sense of direction I didn't know how near or far away we were from Sabang Wharf. But she assured me we only had 1 mountain to go then we would be back on the shore!

  • 18:30 pm - we finally reach this tiny path lined with coconut trees but I could barely walk I was inching my way towards the shore. My feet were numb. God must have heard my prayers, this kind Samaritan passes by in his motorcycle and offers us a ride. Since he noticed we were practically dragging our tired bodies. He dropped us off at the restaurant where we have LUNCH! Can you imagine that??? No food at all since 6 a.m that morning!!!!

  • 19:56 pm - After all the stragglers (only ones left were me, my sister, a family of 4 members, and a family of 8 members) had eaten lunch we shove off back towards the city. Groping in the darkness because the resort had no lights, guided only by a small flashlight. We again went through 1 1/2 hours of rough road and the rest on smooth road. I was more relaxed after eating but still extremely tired. All the way back, my sister and I kept talking non stop about our little hiking experience, the Underground River Cave tour. It was totally mind boggling how we survived 12 hours without food yet managed to trek 3 mountains. Totally madness!

  • 22:10 pm - Back at the Legend Hotel. First thing we did was of course call our parents because during the entire day we didn't have signal on our cellphones. We just decided to order room service since we could barely move. It was a different kind of pain, pure torture!
    The Tours manager called up to apologize for the unfortunate incident. We were easily appeased. We didn't make too much of a fuss because after all it wasn't their fault. The weather situation cannot be helped. But what I didn't like is the fact that we didn't have anything to eat nor refreshments readily available to us. It is beyond me how they could have underestimated that fact. They should have provided us with at least some mineral water bottles along the way.
    But over all it was an adventure, a trip I will never forget. Simply because I hiked over 12 kms on rugged terrain for 7 hours!!!! For me that is a mean feat. I'm the last person on earth you would expect to subject myself to such a vigorous activity.
    But I did it! Never mind that up to now 3 days later - I am in so much pain and agony. That I sleep covered with Salonpas and Voltaren. That I drink Alaxan every 4 hours for the pain.
    I believe it was worth it.

  • I still have a lot to say about this trip but I'll continue some other time. Time to rest my weary bones!

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