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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Philippines: Day 27 - Sunrise in Sabang

We were roused from our slumber by the many and somewhat enthusiastic roosters' crowing. You don't really need an alarm clock when you want to get up early in Sabang. After being awakened at 5 a.m., I decided to get out and take some fabulous sunrise photos while my friend decided to get back to sleep more. Sabang is still very peaceful at this hour. 

Back at Dabdab Cottages, I lay down outside on the terrace of our room bathing in the fresh breeze of the morning. It has a beautiful garden, overlooking the ocean.

The check-out time would have been at 12:00 noon, but the hotel allowed us to leave our stuff there and even to use the shower and bathroom of the other room before we would go in the afternoon. It was great since we booked our seats in a van from Lexxus Shuttle Service for the 4.30 p.m. departure. We still had some time left before we had to return to Puerto Princesa. First, I had delicious and cheap local lunch, while my friend had a freshly made Mango-Guyabano fruit drink and then I asked at the Lexxus booth if we could have the more spacious) front row seats on the way back. It was good to ask because only then we got to know, that they had our booking wrong. While we had tickets for Puerto Princesa (printed out), they had noticed, that we would go to El Nido. After some telephoning on their side, it was all cleared up. 

It was already so hot that we skipped the idea to walk to the waterfall. After all, I was there already three years ago. Instead, we walked parallel to the coast past the starting point to the Mangrove River Tour, crossed the bridge and came to the entrance of the Monkey Trail, which leads to the magnificent Underground River. It was a bit annoying that we had to pay a little fee (50 Peso, if I remember correctly) just after the hotel area to walk along the path, as it leads through "private" grounds. 

However, after the bridge, my friend just wanted to stay on the beach and perhaps swim, but I goaded him to walk with me to the zip line. From out of nowhere along the shore, two guys appeared and insisted on accompanying us to the zip line. I think to lead us the way for a fee, which was somewhat useless, as I have been there many times. We tried to ignore them as I didn't want to ruin the surprise for my friend who didn't want to go zip-lining. Finally up, we were immediately strapped and ready to go. You speed down the 800 meters long- Zipline above the sea. It is entirely an adventure, and you come back out to the beautiful beach. 

After the adrenaline kick, we walked back towards the village along the coast. You can also go back the way you came in, but we decided to walk directly along the coast, where you have to cross the not that deep river and then climb some boulders before reaching back the main beach in front of the hotels. We rewarded ourselves another swim in the ocean, which alone would be reason enough to visit Sabang. The water there is shallow, and you can walk in on the sand for quite some time before it gets deeper. While there's always a warning for the undertow, there´s nothing to fear as long as your feet can stable reach the ground. 

We spent some time swimming and lying in the sun before we went to a beachside restaurant for lunch. After that, it was already time to get back to the hotel and take a quick shower. We walked to the Lexxus booth and soon were headed back to Puerto Princesa, where we arrived two hours later.

The van has its final stop at the nearby market and not at the bus terminal. We took one of the many tricycles to go to the big Robinson's Mall, where I enjoyed a massage chair and where we also had dinner (and more Mango fruit shake). Then we took another tricycle back to our hotel in Puerto Princesa, the Acacia Tree Garden. We signed in for their free airport shuttle for the next day and then just relaxed, after packing our bags.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Philippines: Day 26 - Sunset in Sabang

We had booked a transfer with the Lexxus Shuttle Service the day before and - for an extra fee - got the option to have a transfer from our hotel in Puerto Princesa, the Acacia Tree Garden. We left at 8 a.m. after breakfast and then were brought to the bus terminal, from where it took about two hours to get to Sabang. While the van was bit cramped, it was okay and taking a van is - for me - the most recommended option, when you travel between cities in Palawan. The shuttle service also offers tourist-friendly transfers from Puerto Princesa to El Nido and even between El Nido, Port Baton and Sabang. 

Sabang is really small, and we were left out at the heart of the village, nearby the beach and the main parking lot at the beach. The primary attraction in Sabang is the Underground River, a World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. You can go to the ticket office at the parking lot for tickets and information and then take a boat from Sabang to the entrance of the Underground River or even walk the "Jungle Trail" or the "Monkey Trail" to it. 

Many tourists come just for a day trip from Puerto Princesa, which you can easily book at most hotels in Puerto Princesa. But Sabang has more to offer and is a great place to stay at least a night. There´s a beautiful sandy beach, restaurants, a waterfall in walking distance and a Zipline. There's also a Mangrove Boat Tour and more caves to explore. But it is small, so don´t expect an ATM if you plan a visit.

We mainly just came to relax after our busy sightseeing weeks in South Korea and Hong Kong. After all, I've been to Sabang many times before. It was a somewhat spontaneous trip, and we didn't reserve a room in advance. So, we tried our luck at first at the Daluyon Resort. It is rather expensive for our standard, but we thought, we could grant ourselves some luxury towards the end of the tour, and I've never been there, although I have been in Sabang several times already. Unfortunately, it was fully booked. After a quick look at the even more expensive Sheridan, which was also fully booked, but much too expensive anyway, we went to my usual home in Sabang, the Dab Dab Cottages. While they didn't have a free cottage, we at least got a room in their new building.

The Dab Dab Cottages are little cottages in a beautiful garden, just a few steps from the parking lot and on the other side of the central hotel area. They come at a fair price, and I especially like, that each cottage has its space, so that it feels a bit like having a little house inside the jungle. However, you need to know, that there's electricity only in the evening, so don't expect a flatscreen TV or an aircon. The hotel also has its own restaurant, and the ground has a tranquil atmosphere - only disturbed by the roosters in the morning. 

After checking in, we went to a little eatery at the parking lot, where I got lunch, and my friend got some pizza before we went swimming and just relaxed on the beach. 

Later we also walked along the coast, above some cliffs and through the river, to the next beach and adored the sunset. It is a beautiful area, and we changed between swimming, lying around, walking a few steps and eating. Precisely what we had hoped for and what we needed after the exciting but exhausting sightseeing weeks in South Korea and Hong Kong.