The third day of our Philippines adventure was one we were very much looking forward to – waterfall rappelling! It was going to be this amazing day of hiking in the jungle and descending a few waterfalls in a harness and rope! I had seen photos and videos from friends in Korea and just couldn’t wait to get out there.
We had a driver pick us up at the B&B to take us to city hall, where we’d meet our tour guide for the day. About five minutes into the drive, our chauffeur got a devastating phone call: we must return to Hale Manna, as the tour had been canceled due to weather. Our hearts sank: This can’t be happening, we HAVE to do this! After the inital disappointment, my mind immediately went into planning mode – how can we make sure we get to do this before we leave? This is what we came here for! I was especially bummed for Sara, because she probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to come back, and was particularly excited about this excursion.
Sadly, we sat in silence on the way back, none of us knowing where the rest of the day would take us. After some email exchanges with our tour guide, we learned that because it had been raining overnight, the amount of water flow was just too strong to safely go down the waterfalls. We did some negotiation, and pending good weather, we decided that the next day would be our most action-packed yet: we’d go swim with the whale sharks, then spend our afternoon rappelling and hopefully do a little bit of diving at the end of the day. All was well – or so we thought.
Still, that didn’t leave us with much of a plan for the rest of our day. It was only 9:30 in the morning, after all. With a tip from our hostess at the B&B, we hired a Jeepney driver to take us to Kawasan falls, a local park with waterfalls you could hike to. We figured if we couldn’t climb them, we may as well go and take a look. Plus, we’d get wet one way or another. May as well dance in the rain, right?
Jeepneys (jeep + jitney) are probably the most common vehicle in the Philippines, and they originated from U.S. military jeeps that were left behind during World War II. Today they are actually manufactured new as their own type of vehicle. They function as a public bus, with people hopping on and of at non-specific locations. Most of them are decorated in graffiti-like illustrations, which has made them an integral part of Filipino pop culture. We saw lots of interesting things on our ride – lots of animals, umbrella covered rickshaws, and even passed a funeral procession on the way home.
Our Jeepney arrived at the falls and it was shockingly only $10 for a 40 minute trip. We were warned about lots of locals trying to rope us into hiring them as a “guide” and to just ignore them. Luckily we were only approached by one man and everything went smoothly. We entered the park and were surprised to see a little pennant banner along the middle of the path.
It reminded us of the Amazing Race, as the flags were yellow and red. It turns out that in the morning they held the ‘Kawasan Marathon’ which apparently included both walkers and runners. We are not sure that the race was a full 26.2km; if it was, the park was most certainly the very last leg, as we only walked a couple of kilometers to where the finish line was. Too bad they had torn down the podium, otherwise we could have gotten some goofy photos!
We continued following a dirt path through some beautiful jungle-esque scenery, until we arrived at the first waterfall landing. Even though it was raining, there were tons of locals enjoying the water and it appeared many brought and bought food there to have a picnic. J got in for a swim, and Sara and I both took turns wandering knee deep over to the rafts to check out the fun.
There were three levels of the Kawasan Falls, but we only made it to the second before we decided we were ready to get out of the rain. It was an emotionally challenging day, but it ended up being fun and relaxing just the same. Once we returned to the B&B, we ate a yummy pizza lunch, napped in bungalows on the ocean, read books and played games. It was an old-fashioned rainy day in paradise. The only regret we have is that we didn’t know the massage therapist at the resort next door had 60 minute massages for $16. Womp. On the bright side, the clouds made for a nice sunset and we had a pretty amazing Monday in the works!