Are you ready for the ride of your life? *drumroll* ;)
River Tubing or locally known as Paanod in Davao is an outdoor sport in which people ride salbabidas (or inner tubes, “donuts”, “biscuits” due to their shape) down a river. Depending on the conditions of the river, tubing can be a relaxing way to spend a day, or it can be an energizing wild adventure. It’s like white water rafting, but with tubes in place of the rafts. But unlike water rafting which you do in a group; this water sport depends on you entirely.
I don’t know how to swim so I was a little hesitant to float and flow freely down the rapids on my own. However, beside Zorbing, this was another activity I was really excited about and looked forward on this trip. So as long as I have life vest on me, I’m not gonna back out. *wink*
A typical tubing trip lasts for 3-4 hours. It is advisable to wear leggings and long sleeves to protect you from sunburn and to avoid bruises and scratches along the way. It is also recommended to wear aqua shoes or sandals that are tied to your feet so it won’t be swept away by the river. Layak team will provide the life jackets and helmets for additional safety.
Our contact, Kuya Marlon aka Lonax, texted as the directions to Layak Outdoors Shop located in Calinan. From where we’re staying in El Rio, we rode a jeep to Bangkerohan, and then got an L300 ride to Calinan.
We met our four (4) funny guides who are all as happy and excited as we are for the river tubing activity that day. With them, we had a 30-minute jeepney ride to Malagos and then an approximately 10-minute walk to the river. The way to the river is thick with trees, plants and grasses everywhere. Probinsiyang-probinsiya. :)
We were told that the river is shallow. We can stand on our feet if we fall out of the tubes. Though, there are deep areas, too. In any case, the best way to go on is just to float freely, Layak team is there to assist and rescue us all the way to end of the ride.
We mounted on to our river tubes, and with proper distance and timing, we were let go to the river one by one. It was worrying at first since we were just about to apply what we were told during the briefing. But once you find your balance and learn how to maneuver yourself in the rapids, you’re already a master of this water sport. ;)
With the flowing current, the tube will freely run down the river until you reach the landing spot, where everyone stops and waits until all of us are together.
There are risks, of course, just like any other outdoor activities. You may fall out of the tube and get bruised by rocks. So being alert will help a lot to avoid and steer away from huge boulders. This will save you from bumps and bruises. I especially use my feet to push myself away from the rocks and carry on with the flow.
Here’s a funny video as we approached the “surprise” part of the cruise. Good Luck!
It isn’t all about floating on your own. There are also group float positions like Trio, and my favorite Train Ride where all our tubes are connected as we made our way down the rapids.
Here’s the video of the actual experience.
Trio is where the three of us are connected in circles. Like Rio Grande in Enchanted Kingdom, we twist and turn as we drift through the waters.
It is best to do the activity in the morning as the river current may already be heavy in the afternoon.
After a while, dealing with the rapids becomes easier when you get used to the flow and the bumps, it was a fun and very enjoyable cruise in the end. And happily, this was the most daring activity I’ve experienced in my traveling days. I’ve never used salbabida this way. And I’ve never loved it this much.
We headed back to the shop to rinse and change clothes. Layak team even welcomed us to their Barkada and invited us for a lunch. :)
**Bring an underwater camera to capture all the fun! Since we need our hands to paddle our way to the river, Kuya Lonax took charge of taking all the photos and videos. Thanks a bunch! :D