Jul 2008

The Whole Sabang

The following morning, The Astronomer and I boarded a bus/jeepney hybrid called the “D’Christ” to the small beach town of Sabang, which is located 2.5 hours away. Nina and Cathy stayed in Puerto Princessa and island hopped.


We sat in the back of the bus. The ride was bumpy, but incredibly scenic—mountains, ocean, rain forest! Hands down the best bus ride ever.

This guy carried our luggage from the edge of town where the bus dropped us off to our cottage at Michi’s.

A view of the gorgeous and peaceful surroundings from our cottage. By the way, we totally roughed it—there was no hot water the entire time and electricity only from 6 to 10 PM. I’m more of a “hotel girl,” but am glad we were eco-friendly tourists. After we dropped off our bags, we had lunch at nearby Mary’s. Michi’s used to have a restaurant, but it burned down. Wah wah.


The curry vegetables (pumpkin, eggplant, green beans) weren’t too spicy, which The Astronomer appreciated. I appreciated that the vegetables weren’t soggy and that they were drenched in coconut milk.


The adobo squid was neither as vinegary as we had hoped nor as tender as the squid in Phu Quoc, but pleasant nevertheless. The Astronomer ate most of the potatoes or tatties (as they say in Scotaland).

Garlic rice! Ain’t a meal without it.


A view of the ocean from our dining gazebo. Ah, paradise. The rest of the day was spent swimming, reading and napping. We also got in a great run. The views in Sabang are outrageously exquisite. The next day was more of the same goodness.


We hit up Mary’s once more for breakfast. I indulged in a fabulous fruit salad that was served in half a young coconut and included papaya, mangoes and bananas.


The Astronomer and I had pancakes too. I love eating pancakes while traveling. These were huge, fluffy and the most “authentic” ones that we have eaten in Southeast Asia.


Reading a bootleg copy of “A Cook’s Tour” that Nina lent me. I liked the book much more the second time around because I had visited so many of the countries that Bourdain penned about.

In between dips. The turquoise waters in Sabang are the clearest we’ve encountered in the region and so so warm.

The Astronomer and his feet.


For lunch we paid Mary another visit. We had garlic rice and curry vegetables again, but instead of squid adobo we opted for the sweet and sour fish. As always, the food was solid and the view was unbeatable.


After lunch, our friends arrived in Sabang! Twenty-four hours without Miss Adventure was twenty-three too many. For dinner, we went to a random restaurant down the shore.


The chicken adobo was really great. Much more vinegary than the squid, but not overwhelmingly so. Drumettes are my favorite part of the chicken.


For the crunchy, deep-fried portion of the meal, our resident crunchy/deep-fried expert chose the calamari. The batter was surprisingly light and not the least bit greasy. Good call, Nina.


Curry vegetables that actually contain curry. Imageine that!


The next morning, The Astronomer and I grabbed a quick pancake breakfast at the Tribal Restaurant before heading off on a hike through the rain forest. Instead of maple syrup or honey, the restaurant served the pancakes with sweetened condensed milk. Mmm!


The 5K hike started near our cottage. Cathy came along too, but Nina opted to lounge on the beach after it was discovered that the bridge leading to the the trail was damaged and wadding through water was the only alternative. I told Nina that for someone nicknamed Miss Adventure, her sense of adventure was a bit lacking. But at the end of the day, she had the last laugh because the hike was mentally defeating.

Shrooms! I wish that I had had a truffle sniffing dog with me. It would have made the hike more delicious.


Shhh. There’s a crab under there.


Daddy long legs, but more sinister.


Giant ants on the forest floor.


A rocky upthrust in the middle of the rain forest.

After two and a half hours of hiking, we finally made it to the subterranean river.

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is located about 50 kilometers north of the city of Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines. The National Park is located in the Saint Paul Mountain Range on the northern coast of the island. It is bordered by St Paul Bay to the north and the Babuyan River to the east. The City Government of Puerto Princesa has managed the National Park since 1992. It is also known as St. Paul’s Subterranean River National Park, or St. Paul Underground River. The entrance to the Subterranean River is located a short hike from little town of Sabang.

It features a limestone karst mountain landscape with an 8.2 km. navigable underground river. A distinguishing feature of the river is that it winds through a cave before flowing directly into the South China Sea. It includes major formations of stalactites and stalagmites, and several large chambers. The lower portion of the river is subject to tidal influences. Until the 2007 discovery of an underground river in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Puerto Princesa’s underground river is reputed to be the world’s longest.

The area also represents a significant habitat for biodiversity conservation. The site contains a full mountain-to-the-sea ecosystem and has some of the most important forests in Asia.

It was inscribed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site on December 4, 1999.

Heading into the cave! I didn’t take any photos inside because I really wanted to enjoy the scenery and not worry about getting the perfect shot.

After our tour of the underground river, we took a boat back to Mary’s for a late lunch/early dinner.


Cathy had the spaghetti. Asian spaghetti is a little sweeter than classic marinara sauce. Not my cup of tea, but it was definitely hers.


The Astronomer opted for the pancit.


I had the Filipino breakfast which included a fried egg, corned beef and garlic rice. It was awesome!


The next day we left Sabang. One last shot of the beautiful beach.

The bus to Puerto Princessa.


Nina squatting and munching on some Pinoy chips while waiting for the bus to leave.


Street food! Prior to our departure, I saw a vendor serving up something cold and asked for one.


It’s called a “scrambal” and consisted of crushed ice, melted vanilla ice cream, a sprinkling of peanuts and crushed Oreos. Not too shabby, but not too great.

The Astronomer had a plate of pancit before take off.

Nina in the bus’ rearview mirror.


The Astronomer and I brought two pancakes for the road. Our three-day stay in Sabang was kick-ass.

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6 thoughts on “The Whole Sabang

  1. Wow looks like you have a lot of fun in Palawan. There’s a Vietnamese community there in Palawan. It’s used to be a refugee camp for the boat Vietnamese. You can even find Chao Long and Bun Bo there in Palawan. Enjoy !

  2. I read on Miss.Adventure in Vietnam that u guys had your last weekend in HCMC? That’s a shame, cuz we are arriving in August! 🙁

  3. I guess all good things must come to an end. I have thoroughly enjoyed your adventure in food and places and will miss it tremendously. We are arriving in Saigon next week and I have taken notes of places you visited to try them as well. Good luck with your move back to the States. I’ll be reading your blogs about other adventures soon I hope.

  4. dvq – Ah! Nina passed by Viet Ville but didn’t stop to check it out 🙁 That’s so cool that bun bo and chao long have spread near and far.

    Tom – Thanks! Our trip to the Philippines was definitely our best trip this year.

    Tram – The Astronomer and I will still be in the region in August, but most likely far from Saigon. Hit up Miss Adventure for a meal, she knows all of my secret places 😉

    beautran – Have a wonderful trip through Vietnam. I know you’re going to have a blast. Eat well and stay hydrated!

    NN – No offense taken. Noodlepie is my favorite too! Hopefully I’ll satisfy your Vietnamese food cravings with posts from Little Saigon (and my grandma’s house). It’s not Vietnam, but it’s the next best thing.

  5. Whaaa… what you’re leaving Saigon? Who’s gonna keep me sane through my Viet food craving with Saigon food-porn?
    Anyhow thanks for all the posts. You’re the best after Noodlepie (I hope you’re not offended by that, noodlepie was really really great IMO).
    Best of luck with moving and resettling.

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