By the time I got to the sign telling me which way to go, Monkey trail or Jungle trail, I was already drenched in sweat and burning up with a fever. My throat sore and parched I felt like I had an ember glow around me. For the first time in about a year, I was sick.
The trail was meant to be 2.5 hours. I really have no idea how long it took me in reality. All I know is that tourism in the Philippines is very strange. In Sagada you practically couldn’t go to the toilet without having a mandatory guide. When the girl in Sabang’s tourist office told me it was no problem, I took it at face value.
Within 10 minutes I was lost. I had to ask a local man to point me in the right direction. Nothing was marked. I walked along an empty beach wondering if I was about to stumble upon a similar group of tourists chugging their way along. Only I didn’t. There was one small sign at the end of the beach that instructed me via an arrow to take a left. I did.
It was jungle time and in fairness not too hard. Only I was finding it hard to breath. My chest was heavy and I was struggling with whatever I was coming down with. I kept going and finally ended up on another beach. With another sign telling me the Monkey trail was straight ahead. Only it wasn’t. There was a cliff, the south China sea, and a wall of trees. I sat on a rock and thought it out.
I retraced some steps. And thought some more. Everything was a dead end! The sea lapped up against the cliff and I thought of the tide coming in … it clicked. I measured my timing against the waves and jumped along the rocky under cliff and then jumped high against a rock as a high wave came in. If I’d had sandals or rubber shoes as they were know in the Philippines I would have been okay. But in my boots I was gripping the side of cliff avoiding the water while trying to peer around the corner.
Then I saw it. A little sign handing from tree “Monkey Trail”
I fumbled along the rocks as more waves came crashing in and I curse the tourist girl as I came to yet another dead end. The tide was in, this was now obvious, so the entrance was under a few feet of water. Take one’s boot’s off. I can hear my self say on reflection. I had a fever is my only excuse.
I climbed higher, over some giant tree and looked down as I saw a small Soccer ball stuck onto a stick in the sand ala Tom Hank’s movie. I was not amused. Lesser still with the huge wooden staircase in front of me.
The trail was indeed built for monkeys. And I was the prime candidate as I huffed, puffed and sweated my way up. Then the added insult of rain came. Light rain, but rain. I coughed and could feel something building in my chest.
If I had not been sick I think things would have been fine. But all I could was wonder where the monkey’s were? Not a single one in sight. More steps, more trails and and more steps with a few missing and finally I saw one. A tiny little fellow dashing up some rocks. Then I heard some tourists behind me. French. The two men sauntered down with ease as I let them pass a broken step. One of them nodded at me, and looked at my sodden huffing frame up and
down before skipping away with ease.
I continued on passed some more steps, a until finally catching sight of some dark shadows in the tree’s above. Little grey monkey’s grooming each other. Just two. Maybe another few off the trail but that was all.
A little further on I came to a swamp with little lung fish jumping around. My chest was now rattling something around in it as I breathed. I felt like a walking furnace and the rain was getting heavier. The good news was that the sight of picnic tables with 40 or so tourists stuffing their faces told me I’d arrived at the Underground river.
Not to be outdone I sat down and sheltered from the rain at an empty table. Took out a soggy egg sandwich from my day pack and watched as the resident Monitor Lizards sent the odd Korean girl running for cover as they wandered harmlessly around.
The boatmen were on lunch I learned from a local. Another hour of waiting. I began to feel the shiver of a fever in a sub tropical climate come over me. My only amusement was watching as one of the French superstars that shot by me squealed worse than the Korean girl and rose his legs up onto a bench as a lizard hungrily stomped by.
Paddling along “The Worlds Longest Underground River”: Or is it?
Lot’s of cave photos included
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