Thursday, August 29, 2013

One of the New 7 Wonders of Nature

Our long planned trip to El Nido, Palawan was aborted due to low registrants for that group tour. The plane ticket in going there is via Puerto Princesa, and land trip to El Nido from there. We already had plane tickets so we decided to use them at least only to Puerto Princesa instead of continuing to El Nido. One month before the designated date we registered online for the Underground River, because access to this UNESCO Heritage Site is now limited to 900 persons per day unlike the 1,500 before. I have actually visited it more than 10 years ago, many years before it was voted as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. It is high time that i refresh the memories, or maybe compare the differences accruing from the so-called "development".

There are 12 persons in our van plus a tour guide. It took about 1.5 hours from Puerto Princesa City to Sabang town, where a boat takes the tourists for 30 min to the front of the Underground River. A boat rides only 4-6 persons including the boatman. Then a short walk brings us to the other side of the Cave's entrance. Here, another boat takes us directly inside the cave, this is manually paddled by a boatman who at the same time acts as the tourist guide. He sits at the back of the boat and while paddling tells us information about the Cave and the Underground River. We are very fortunate for having someone who delivers his messages with amusing, sometimes really hilarious punchlines that make all of us laughing all the way!

Part I. Way to the Underground River

The Van that took us from Puerto Princesa City to Sabang town, jump-off point to the Underground River. The man on the left is our tourist guide. There are 4 mini groups in our van. 

This is the makeshift pier in Sabang town, where tourists board on the boats. That mountain is a tropical virgin forest where no patch of agricultural activity can be viewed from the plane or from the way we were.

The above view of the mountains and the sea might already entice you to stay in this area to explore for more happenings and experiences. There is a zipline here, a mangrove exploration tour, a monkey trail hike, among others.

 The view at our right side from the boat. Our guide said the range looks like a reclining giant.

 Another peak on that range, these mountains are limestone in character, that eventually resulted in having the Underground River and cave. It is not yet very well explored but many caves are in those mountains.

 The shoreline cliffs viewed from the boat. The occlusions or deep contours at the rock facade shows the level of sea water long ago. It was now way up the present sea level because the rocks are pushed up due to the tectonic plates merging in these parts, making big movements.

Boulders fall now and then due to constant movement of the crust and constant weathering

This big boulder originally has an arch but now blown away

 This long rock wall lines the way to the shore where the boats dock going to the UR

 Another view of the rock wall

Big old trees of >1 meter diameter can be seen on the area to the UR. Monkeys also roam around like that one above right. We saw five of them on the ground and some tourists even pose with them for photos. Another group with monkey kids are on top of the concrete structure that serves as the toilet and comfort room. They seem to be gentle and are used to be with a lot of people. 

Part II follows tomorrow.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Flowering Herbs

I've been to a facility lately to discuss things about IPR. On the grounds are nice ornamental plants that caught my attention. However, i am so very in a hurry because i still have to go home and it is already past noon. So no matter how attractive the plants are, no matter how i wanted to take more photos, i only had a few minutes for those very near the walkway.  I didn't even have the time to even change a lens. So these are just some of them, mostly herbs.

Thai basil

sweet basil

purple 'alugbati' or Basella rubra

am not sure what onion species this is (thanks Photo Cache for identifying it as fennel)

When this arbor is already filled by the climbing 'alugbati', both green and purple, i am sure it makes this herbs area very beautiful. A 'bahay kubo' or nipa hut is a conducive sitting area at the back for small discussions or a cup of coffee. With our hot sun's rays here in the country, it will definitely cover us from intense heat, and provide a good atmosphere to linger around.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Heaven's Wrath Today

We have not  yet been fully relieved of the effects of the previous year's typhoons and flooding, and now we are again experiencing 'heaven's wrath'! We are in the typhoon path, and most of us are very much experienced with storms, typhoons, slight floods, etc. That is understandable because we have more or less all the letters of the alphabet-named typhoons visiting us per year.  But this year, flooding is unprecedented. "Typhoon Labuyo" just left and immediately behind it comes "Typhoon Maring". Continuous torrential rains cause flooding everywhere. Even other provinces not experiencing these before are now declared at the state of calamity. Rivers and some dams overflowed, and it becomes a complete mess! We hope not many lives will be lost from this one.

At least the strong winds are not with us in the metropolis, the actual typhoon is in the northeastern side of the country.  It seems all rain clouds poured with us here!

 Above is the normal condition of the highway (CALABARZON) to the south, when i went home to the province last Saturday morning.  Mt Makiling is the mountain you see in the background.

Yesterday (Sunday) when i returned to Manila, buses were stranded in the morning because of some floods in the highways. Fortunately, our bus at 2:00 pm passed through without any more hassles. Very few cars are seen on the highway, and moderate rains accompanied us all throughout the trip. I did not see any floods anymore!

 But this torrential rains need caution for motorists. I love the experience and i kept on shooting, which might have been surprising to my seatmate.

The horizon is very grey, every vehicle have their lights on!

The front mirror get so blurred, it might have been difficult for the driver. I time this shot when the wiper just pass the screen.

 We stopped at a gas station, and the front mirror looked like this.

 The  mosaic view at the side windows of the bus, where there are no wipers!

Rains stopped momentarily yesterday afternoon, but returned forcefully last night and today. In fact, it hasn't stopped since this morning. Suspension of classes and offices were announced early, and i saw the announcement on TV before i come out of the house. Those who came out early were caught in the streets with terrible downpour and flooding.

At the moment at 10:00 in the morning, tens of thousands of families have already been evacuated. Social welfare and NGO are already going there for their immediate food and clothing. Oh My God, please let us be safe.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Horizon Marvels

I hope some of you also miss your sunsets. During our rainy season, clouds dominate our skies. Of course, that is common around the world, from where else will the rains come if not from the clouds. I love the rainy season more than our dry season, because plants are more alive. Concomitant to that are the insects and butterflies, whose generation depends on plants.

But what about my 5th Floor Window sunsets? Well, i just miss them. So every sky clearing i watch thoroughly for possible colors of my horizon. And i am not disappointed because rainy season sunsets are more dramatic than the counterparts during dry months. I hope you agree with me. Please tell me what you say about the following shots.

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