This is one of the places where you had to know the right time to visit. Access to Sohoton Cove in Bucas Grande is only during low tide. Coming from Tundan Cave, we went back to Sohoton Bay Resort for a short lunch break before returning for the cove in the early afternoon. I was already impressed with what I’ve seen of Bucas Grande in general. The low round karst hills and islets reminds me of chocolate hills but this one over the majestic Palawan blue waters. That’s until we passed through the 40-meter low cave and entered the world of Sohoton Cove.
“Where are you girls going?” we asked curiously as three girls young girls, ages ranging from 10–12 were going down a trail almost unnoticeable from the dense vegetation just below the famed. “Down to check on our goats by the cave?” one said. A cave? I thought for a moment and probably she was referring to the Sagada Underground River Cave found deep into the valley. “Let’s follow them!” My newfound towering Russian companion excitedly suggested our group. In the many times I have visited Sagada, I don’t remember having visited the cave before so we just followed the young girl’s footsteps.
If this is how it feels to crawl out of a womb, I can clearly understand why babies cry out once their out in the open – its a cry of relief after squirming through a hole that can barely fit a person of average size there. We were at the second chamber of Aglipay Caves in Quirino Province, about half-way through our adventure in a network of chambers that let us squeeze through crack entrances, do duck-walks on low ceiling passages and negotiate slick and muddy trails in pitch black environs. But hey we’re not complaining, aren’t we here for the thrill?
“Please don’t call it a junk! It doesn’t sound good. We call it a cruise ship!” our Vietnamese guide with a British accent, Duc, politely corrected me as I got accustomed to call those large wooden ships cruising Ha Long Bay as “junks” similar to what they call it in Hong Kong. From Halong Plaza Hotel, we were headed to the port for a Ha Long Bay day in this UNESCO Heritage site in the province of Quang Ninh, Vietnam. It is popularly known for its thousands limestone karst picturesquely dispersed on a bay off Ha Long City.
“A clever man can see the world from a cave much better than a stupid man can from the top of a mountain!”
I thought this shot has nothing spectacular in terms of composition, nor am I a fan of the multi-colored lights this Heavenly Palace Cave or locally known as Thien Cung Cave of Halong Bay has. The cave itself though, a huge chamber, with winding pathways really has impressive stalactites and stalagmites. What made me choose this photo of the Heavenly Palace Cave has more to do with Nikon D7100’s high ISO capabilities. I wasn’t able to bring my tripod inside the cave and had to rely on the camera’s high ISO to get steady shots. This photo I took hand-held is already at ISO 8063 (and extended ISO mode) and it still has very impressive detail.
“Wow! How does one get there?” I asked my companion Norbs while pointing down on a parallel electric line post way down below. It seemed so far and unreachable from where we were at Kamanbaneng Peak or popularly named Marlboro Mountain. After enjoying a wonderful play of billowing clouds after the sunrise, we were set for a long trek southwards of Sagada. It was a beautiful day for a trek but the rains the day before had dampened the ground making it more sticky and on some parts muddy. But after a few hours, we found ourselves below the electric line I was pointing to earlier but standing on the curious hues of the Blue Soil Hills of Sagada.
I made sure I allotted a day to do an inland tour around Samal Island. The objective was to visit a couple of waterfalls and also the famed Monfort Bat Cave which has earned itself a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2010 for having the largest colony of bats in a cave. I must admit, at first my interest wasn’t really sky high on seeing this site as I thought it would just be trivial, but being there changed my opinion of this one-of-a-kind sanctuary.