Sabang, a nice surprise
After our impromptu 2 night stay in Honda bay we tricycled to San Jose where we were 20 minutes late for the 7 am bus so we had to wait for the 930.
We perused the local market outside the terminal as we waited and were greeted with delicious breakfast and fresh produce for later. It was at this market where I felt like a celebrity for the first time. We noticed some people snapping covert pictures of us eating breakfast, and as proper Canadians we posed with the locals when asked. We would find this to be a recurring trend in parts of the Philippines.
Now as expected the buses in the Philippines are a bit different. They pack the roof with rice, luggage, other goods, and even people to deliver to a lot of stops along the way. The locals looked surprised to see two Caucasians riding the bus, but they were still polite.
It was a bumpy ride to Sabang with the jeep stopping frequently to make deliveries and picking up whomever flagged the bus down - even when the previous person was ten feet down the road. This sequence repeated itself with some some new battle scars being added to the bottom of the bus periodically. Meg and I had almost moved from annoyed to frustrated when we saw the sign for Sabang.
We got dropped off at the pier and set off down the gorgeous beach to procure a roof over our heads. While walking down the path we had to weave through hoards of Pilipino, Chinese, and Japanese tourists. A merchant was pestering us as we walked telling us that there would be no vacancy in Sabang and that we should go with him to stay in a neighboring town. These merchants are almost certainly lying, and even if they aren't one needs to investigate for themselves. After ignoring a Sheraton resort and other places we had no business being in we found the Taraw Vista beach cottages. Shortly after settling into our cottage that was right on the beach and a swim in the spectacular ocean bay flanked by picturesque green mountains we noticed that our previously overpopulated cottage area was deserted. We had previously read and forgotten that Sabang is a quiet paradise except during the rush between 10 and 2 of day trippers from puerto princessa. The reason for the rush and the reason we came to Sabang was the longest underground river in the world, which apparently requires a permit from puerto princessa, which is 3.5 hours away - logical, I know. The river was completely booked for the month of May with mostly tour groups. The whole process began to reek of beuracratic corruption.
Regardless of the tourist rush and illogical process of booking a trip to the underground river Sabang was an amazing place to stay. The locals were fantastically pleasant. The beach was pristine with water that looked as if it came from a tap. Our cottage may be as close to the ocean as I'll ever sleep indoors and quite inexpensive. Lastly, the food was delicious for both meat lovers and vegetarians and also cheap.
We stayed two nights in Sabang, each morning waking up with a swim at 05:15 to a sunrise that makes you want to stay forever. We loved Sabang and could have stayed for a week with no shortage of hiking, kayaking, ziplining, and even ATVing. We made our first canadian friends here. We saw them at the sheraton bar and wanted to mooch their internet password, but it turns out they weren't staying there, just drinking there. We spent the whole evening with them, and the next two as we travelled to El Nido together where we stayed in a 4 person room with them. We would recommend this town highly, even without the underground river.