the prefered mode of transport in the Philippines.
I am sitting in a bamboo style restaurant overlooking a moonlit sea at a resort called Coron. But let me back track a little… I am now in the Philippines… Oh that isn’t far enough is it; I left you the day before I was to dive Sipadan - it was amazing. I am not going to go on and on about it, but I will say it lives up to its reputation and I would recommend using Scuba Junkies if ever you want to dive over there… and definitely stay for a few days on Mabul, which, as it happened I liked just as much (or even more) than Sipadan. However I should mention that Sipadan has a massive Coral wall which drops to well 600 metres (!) and I felt so small and insignificant compared to the vastness of the endless deep blue ocean on one side and the huge, beautiful coral wall on the other… a very memorable dive.
Julie and I then headed on another bus (with more inappropriate videos… this time there was a very graphic sex scene and a young child sitting next to me! - oh I’ll miss these bus rides!) to Kota Kinabalu
a lake in an island in a lake in an island!
where we then got a flight to Manila… and the final leg of my journey.
We met a nice couple of Swedes (again!) and went for food on our first night in Manila - it was rather unusual as there was a live band playing to an empty room (we were out on the balcony!) and my vegetarian meal had great chunks of beef in; I had been warned about the lack of love for non meat eaters in the Philippines and since travelling I have become a ‘pescatarian’ (is that a word?) due to the poor conditions the meat is kept in both when it is alive and when it is dead! .. however I think this is going to be a problem here in the Philippines where everything has meat in it!
Well Manila had been given a very bad press from the travelers I’ve met and so I did not have high expectations.. and actually it was not as bad as I was anticipating! It is loud and smelly (saw a little boy pooing onto a plastic bag in the street on day one!) and big and fast (they love their tricycles here; rickety old side car
this was taken by our 'resort' in Donsol..
type contraptions attached to small motor bikes)… but nothing compared to India! - and you know how I feel about incredible India! So after two days spent searching for a camera housing for Julie’s camera (involving more inappropriate videos on local buses - glad to see the Philippines are following in Malaysia’s footsteps!) we headed out to Tagatay and the Taal volcano. In the lonely planet it gets a big write up as ‘the island on a lake on an island on a lake’ and whilst it was interesting, and was indeed an island on a lake on an island on a lake it wasn’t as impressive as I had imagined and our accommodation was not great so we only stayed one night. Although I should mention that we did get a ‘police’ escort up to the top of the volcano - I say ‘police’ but Ray looked just like an ordinary man who showed us his gun on the way up and was supposedly there to keep us safe? although I’ve no idea what he was keeping us safe from!! (I have to explain about the accommodation here because it did make me smile; we found what looked like
the whale shark..
do i need to say anything about this?
the only hostel in Talisay on the side of the lake; ‘Natalia’s’, and met Natalia who showed us a very ropey looking room including a large cockroach and mouse poo. When we pointed out the mouse poo she smiled and said, ‘yes mouse poo, yes, yes you take room?’ Her son then explained what we had just said and she instantly rushed into the room and brushed out the poo saying, ‘no, no mouse’! you would have thought that would have put us off, but given the lack of alternatives, we did indeed stay at Natalias! But in a different room - still with a cockroach the size of my thumb which we chased around the room for a while .. and probably some mice.. but no mouse poo so we figured ignorance is bliss!!! Whilst we were having supper at Natalia’s we saw an impromptu cock fight which wasn’t so nice; it seems that cock fighting is big business here and there are cocks all over the place (excuse the pun!!) the cocks have blades put on their feet and only seem to fight for about 1 minute but it was not a nice sight - the local men
this is the cockeral i watched fighting... poor thing.
may have seen my horrified looks as after two fights they then moved to the other side of the caged dog and caged monkey (god knows what they are kept for?!)
So after Tagatay we left Manila and headed on a plane to Legaspi and then on to Donsol to swim with whale sharks. Now first things first; the flight with Cebu Pacific was awesome - they have a competition during the flight where they ask the passengers to hold up different items and if you do it quickly enough you win a prize - the prize is a small lunch box type soft case - not terribly exciting but my competitive spirit came out! - the final item was a large smile so I jumped up and flashed a smile and won!! Woop woop
At Donsol we met a lovely French guy called Vincent and ended up all sharing a room! We had an amazing time swimming with the whale sharks - they are huge, beautiful and so graceful - we were very lucky and got to swim with about 8 different ones all of varying sizes. A very memorable experience. The next day we went diving with manta
The view from where i am writing this blog!!
rays, although this did not go quite so well and whilst we did see 2 manta ray we did only get about 45 seconds of their company! (and we also lost one diver so our second dive was only 28 minutes long which resulted in us getting some money back! - unheard of but true!!)
So after these two memorable experiences we headed on to Coron - by plane; with Cebu Pacific where I won another case for ‘showing the biggest smile’!! I now have two of these fairly useless and unwanted Cebu Pacific cases!!
So here I am in Coron. Julie and I have walked up a large hill to watch the sunset over the bay (technically we missed the sunset as there were 719 steps and we aren’t as fit as we thought!!) but we did see a beautiful view and we followed this with a visit to the amazing hot springs - which were very hot, and large!!
Today I went on my first wreck dive. It was great… the wrecks are Japanese ships that were sunk in World War 2. We lost two of the divers we were with (there is a definite pattern here) however
for some reason our guide didn’t feel the need to stop so we still had a nice long dive at a completely illegal (well in PADI terms anyway!) depth of 37metres!! (I say illegal because I’m not supposed to go lower than 30 mtrs.. then again Julie is only supposed to go to 18 and she went to 32!!)
But the wrecks were great and now we are mentally preparing ourselves for a ten hour boat trip to El Nido which is still in Palawan but just a little further south. Wish us luck!!
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