This will probably be my last ‘Philippine post’. We leave early on Thursday morning, and it’s Tuesday night as I type this.
I wanted to write about Pagsanjan waterfalls. What a neat experience.
We got up early Sunday morning and went to find a cab. It’s about a 2 1/2 hour trip south in Laguna. We knew that a cab for the day should cost us about 2500 pesos, but the cab drivers still saw the word ‘SUCKERS’ on our foreheads. The first driver barely spoke English but nodded in excitement when we asked him if he could drive us for the day. Then he asked where Laguna was….
The next cabbie said that he could take us, and it would be 4500 pesos. Ron told him forget it. Said we didn’t just get here and that it shouldn’t be more then 2500 pesos. Cabbie agrees. His name is Danny
Danny’s cab is new. It uses not only LPG, but also gasoline. Danny is proud of this. Danny starts to show off his high powered mobile by flying at stupid speeds down the highway until Ron tells him to knock it off.
“My kid’s.. they have no seatbelts! We’re not in a hurry. Just drive safe!”
Danny, defeated, slows down.
I start to breathe again.
We stop at a Jollybee after about an hour of driving. We haven’t had breakfast yet and we’re all getting hungry. We buy Danny breakfast. Unlike Roger and Gerry, Danny refuses to sit with us. He sits a few tables away and then goes outside to smoke while we finish.
As we near Pagsanjan, we drive by a guy in a purple raincoat. Purple raincoat guy spies our white skin through the window and breaks into a mad run after us. Crap. I look out the back window as we stop at a red light and see he is closing in. He runs up to the drivers window and throws Danny 2 ID cards, yells something in Tagalog and takes off… now on a motorbike with his buddy.
Danny starts to follow.
“What was that?” Ron asks.
Danny informs us that he has a boat and is going to take us to the falls. We’re ticked. Danny doesn’t understand why we don’t want to go with him… seeing as he has a boat.
“Because he’s a jerk!” Ron answers, “He’s not honest, he just throws that in here and expects us to follow! You follow… we’ll give him back his cards!”
So we follow, and after about 5 minutes of passing signs that say, “Don’t pay illegal boatmen to take you to pagsanjan falls”, we arrive at his boat docking point. It ends up being legit. It has all the regulated pricing that it should have. We feel a bit better, and Ron informs the booking guy that we aren’t impressed with their actions to get us there. Then, they try to scam us on the cost of raincoats. Bad feeling arises again & we leave. Purple raincoat guy offers us his purple raincoat as one last attempt. Forget it.
We go to 7-11 to see about buying our own raincoats. A very quiet, kind man, approaches us there about their boats. We like him, and we follow.
Seeing as 7-11 didn’t have raincoats, we still have to buy some from the boatmen… but seeing as they’re honest and not so ‘in your face’, we’re okay with this.
We suit up… life jackets and raincoats and walk down to the ‘bancas’. These are kinda like canoes. Ron and Sydney get in one, and Karis and I take the second.
As soon as my foot sets down in the banca, I’m thinking we might tip. As soon as my ass sets down, I’m sure of it.
I clutch the camera in my hand and put our bag of dry clothing under my rain coat. Like that’ll do any good.
We have 4 ‘banca men’. 2 in Ron and Sydney’s boat, 2 in Karis and mine. We each have one in front and one in back.
Front boy in my boat is about 60 and weighs about 80 pounds. I wonder if I will need to save him if we flip.
Back boy in my boat only spoke Tagalog. He chatted away to me a few times and I would smile and nod. The only thing I understood was, “MONKEY’S!” when he would point them out in the jungle.
Don’t know what back boy in Ron’s boat was like… I was too mesmorized by his front boy. His front boy looked like Donnie Wahlberg!!! Well.. If Donnie was Philippino… Pretty boy he was!!! ♥
So the bancas all paddled towards the middle of the river and hooked on in a long chain to a banca with a motor. There were about 5 bancas on the way up. Feeling slightly more secure in the banca I risked taking some pictures. Until we were mobbed by other bancas…
“MA’AM! YOU BUY SOME WATER FOR YOUR BABY?”
“HERE IS SOME COKE MA’AM, FOR YOUR BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER!”
“MA’AAM, YOU NEED TO BUY A COKE FOR YOUR BOATMEN”
Here we go again… I buy 8 drinks. All four of our boatmen and each of us. Mine was a beer.
“MA’AM, YOU BUY SOME OF MY CARVINGS! GOOD DEAL MA’AM!”
“BEST PRICE MA’AM, YOU BUY FROM ME!”
this guy went on for awhile. I finally told him maybe on the way down I would look. I was trying to take pictures, and enjoy the surroundings… and he was being a pain in the ass. He finally left, yelling that he would see me on the way back down. Great.
The motor banca pulled us to the beginning of the rapids, then we were unhooked. This is where our boatmen came alive! They all bailed out and began pushing, pulling and even lifting our bancas up the rapids!! They did this in bare feet! They were soaked! At times, the water would be up to their armpits. I was concerned about our front boatman… but man… he was a toughy!!
When they would pass a rapid, they would jump back in and paddle. Soon though, there would be more rapids and they would jump out again.
The trip up took about an hour up to the falls. We had a break about half way where we were ’strongly requested’ to buy our boatmen a ’sausage and a coke’. We felt they sure deserved it, so we did.
The gorge that we travelled through, is undescribable. I just can’t. Something that seems to only be seen in movies. Absolutely, breathtakingly, beautiful. The sides of the gorge that we went through were about 300 feet high, covered in most places in tropical vegetation. Numerous waterfalls trickling down. And the sound… it was the sound of peace. Complete silence other then the paddles dipping into the water, and the odd waterfall entering the gorge. Amazing. Peaceful.
Once we reached the top, we were able to climb onto a bamboo raft and go THROUGH the waterfall and into Devil’s cave. This is the cave behind the falls. Can I just say that this was probably my favourite part of the whole trip here to the Philippines. Very Authentic, very real, and very, very, fun!
We were already soaked from our trip up the river, so we bailed on the bamboo raft. Our raftment pulled us through the falls by a rope. The pressure of the falls hitting the raft pushed us about 1-2 feet under the water. If we weren’t wet before – we sure were then! But – the water was WARM! When we entered Devil’s cave, we were allowed out to swim. All 4 of us swam to the back of the cave and climbed out to look out through the falls. Sydney was flipping ecstatic! She says it was the greatest experience ever… absolutely amazing. I have to agree!
When we got back from our bamboo raft experience, our boatmen were waiting for us. We were ready to go, so we bailed back in our bancas. Thankfully the ride down was easier on the boatmen. I had felt a little bad that they had to pack me all the way up!!
On the way down, we got to ’shoot the rapids’. TOO COOL! This was a blast! Karis continually “WAHOO’d” all the way down. She even had the 80 pound 60 year old “Wahooing” with her! Too cute!
It was a fabulous day and I’m so glad we got to experience Pagsanjan falls. Definately worth checking out if you’re ever in the Philippines!! Loved, Loved it!!
Well, I’m going to spend a bit of time packing. Don’t want to do it all tomorrow!! Time to get back to reality. *sigh*
“ridin’ in the banca boat” Shannon