Weather: Sunny with isolated tropical downpours
Wind: 5 knots
As the Silver Discoverer came alongside the wharf at Puerto Princesa, we were welcomed with a loud and eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary performance. Heading down the gangway we received a bead necklace, a straw hat and a fan -which were practical gifts we all enjoyed.
A fleet of mini vans were lined up and we squeezed in and buckled up. The ride through to the Subterranean River was very windy, but the views of the villages and countryside were very interesting.
Once we were down at the shore we then boarded the local craft that was to take us another half an hour by sea to the Subterranean River. These were outrigger craft, a clue to the Austronesian origins of these people. It was a smooth ride with the breeze being well appreciated. It was beautiful to see the bamboo outriggers slicing their way through the ocean.
We had to wait at the Subterranean River to board the smaller boats that would take us into the cave system. I was given the privileged role of Light Bearer. I sat up front and tried to react swiftly to the boatman’s commands as he shouted them from the back.
We went through “The Cathedral” and saw limestone features that looked like a statue of Mary and a Castle and the Three Kings. We then travelled through the “Vegetable Garden” and saw a whole variety of produce including a humungous Carrot and a giant Apple.The forms in the cave were fascinating and I observed a multitude of stalactites, stalagmites, flow stones and drapery. I remember being taught as a child the difference between stalactites and stalagmites, tights come down!
There was an enormous number of both bats and swiftlets circling around the cave system, often being caught in the beam of the spotlight as I aimed it towards the heavens. The cave system is extensive; we only travelled through a small portion of it. In fact it is more than 24 kilometres long, and has been declared one of the new “Seven Wonders of the World”.After catching the outrigger boats back, we had lunch at the impressive Sheridan hotel, only opened in 2011. Many of us speculated at the possibility of returning and lounging around the pool that seemed to stretch on forever.The ride back did not seem as arduous now that I new what I was in for. A heavy tropical shower came through, and only added to the adventure. We set sail for Coron around 1600 hours.
I gave a recap on Borneo, a memory aid to help remember the key conservation problems of the island, taking the letters of Borneo as acronym for Biodiversity, Orangutan, Rainforest, Native Culture, Ecology and Ocean.
Later in the early evening we enjoyed the Venetian party for returning guests to Silversea, and continued down to The Restaurant for another delightful and delicious dinner.