A Travellerspoint blog

Philippines

Manila to Legazpi to Donsol

Swimming with whale sharks

overcast 27 °C

Manila the second time around was a different city. Instead of going to "old Manila" we opted to stay in the upmarket part of town called Makati. its basically the CBD. You would swear it was a different city. There were very few poor on the streets and the city looked modern and cosmopolitan with all the usual outlets. The people were different aswell, much more "effluent kimmy" . I even went for a run through one of the city parks. The shopping malls in this country are massive. We went to one in Makati and although it would be easily twice as the size of any i've been in Patti managed to get the floor plan down loaded in her brain in about 10 minutes. She is like a terminator. Boys went to see a 3D movie for $5 and we just chilled with a coffee.

We decided to take a flight to Legazpi and then onto a small fishing village called Donsol. Its in Donsol that you can swim with the "BUTANDING" or whale sharks. These animals can grow up to 18 meters long but are absolutely harmless. The journey here was once again long but not difficult. There is never a shortage of anyone willing to give you a lift in this country. You just have to negotiate for it. We stayed at a resort right on the water that was pretty ordinary except for the restaurant. Suffice to say it had the best chef in the Philippines, that we experienced anyway.
To say that the experience of swimming with the whale sharks was exhilarating would be an understatement. We were put on a banka boat and set off in a kind of flotilla scouring the bay where they graze for plankton. When one is spotted, the crewmen bring the boat up close and you are launched into the water off the still moving boat and the idea is to right yourself and snorkel gear and swim alongside for a while or until you bugger out or it decides its had enough of you and dives deep. We all managed to see and swim alongside them although the "meet and greet" is over in seconds. The reality of the experience is that it has become very popular with backpackers and it can be a scramble to get close to one. I dove down and was swimming on top of a giant for a few mad seconds and when i surfaced i felt like i was in a washing machine with swimmers all around me trying to get a look. You would have to be a reasonable swimmer to get a proper experience because they move through the water fairly quickly. Still all in all it was worth the journey. We felt very privileged.

We are back in Legazpi for one night and then to Manila and Hong Kong. The Philippines has been a great place to get some of that greeness off us and we are starting to hit our straps now.

Posted by mike1967 02:03 Archived in Philippines Tagged donsol Comments (0)

El Nido to Puerto Princessa

semi-overcast 27 °C

The drive is advertised as an easy scenic five and a half hours in a minivan. The reality is its a hilarious ride of your life if your from a country that has a road safety program. Palawan seems to be devoid of any regular road rules like the basics of keeping on your side. Blind corners on rising hills don't seem to matter to the drivers, the only funny thing was Brenton had a front row seat next to the driver and we were all in the back. Didn't seem to phase him too much, then again he goes driving with P platers at home. Probably a similar experience. The van was packed and at various stages we nearly hit pigs, dogs, children and trikes. Seems like everyone in this country moves to a beat that just sees them not being killed by half a second. We were going to go with a company called Sweety's but it looked a bit rough, took 10 hours and wasn't airconditioned. lucky for us, passed one on the way and there were people hanging off the sides, on the roof and I think the livestock got the seats. We finally arrived, Matt had a vomiting bug and was glad to be out of the bus. Crammed four of us, with all our packs onto a trike( new record) and headed for the first hotel with hot water. We haven't had a hot shower since Manila. The boys are rapt, this place has there own toilet and shower, telly and a pool. I told them it wasn't going to be Disneyland, think they're starting to get it. Exhausting and a little difficult at times but always fun. Andiamo Coles.

Posted by mike1967 00:15 Archived in Philippines Comments (1)

Diving

sunny 28 °C

A few days ago myself (matt) and brenton did an open water dive course, it was pretty awesome. We started the course with a dive at a little island with a beach on it. Our instructor Borge showed us how to set up the scuba tank, it took a few tries but we eventually set it up properly as we got into the water the feeling is just so surreal staying underwater for a long period of time is so cool. Our first dive we made it to a depth of 18.6 metres. Our second dive was at the same place it was cool because we got to see heaps of different fish and coral it was amazing to see how much life is actually living underwater. Our third dive was at a place called Barracuda Lake. This is such a magical place, when you first hop in the water it is freshwater and a nice temperature but when you get to about 8 metres the water starts getting warmer then at about 10 metres the water is 38 degrees it is like swimming in a Jacuzzi as you go deeper the water goes into salt water. It’s awesome. The next day we went back to the beach did another training dive but after that we went to a place called 7 islands and did a current dive that is where you get into a current and follow it till it ends this was good because we saw so many fish and coral.
That night we had to complete a theory exam on diving I was a bit nervous when the instructor was marking mine just hoping that I passed turns out I finished with high scores ☺ I was happy about this so I am now an official open water diver. Later that day we were able to go on an open water shipwreck dive we went to a wreck that was about an hour from where we were staying I forget the name but as we went lower we saw more fish but the visibility wasn’t very good. The second wreck we went to was a wreck called Tangat this was a better wreck we saw 4 lion fish and 2 stone fish that was pretty scary because I almost hit on of the stone fish. We then moved on to barracuda lake again it was cool and the reason it is named barracuda lake is because there is one barracuda trapped in the lake I was up the front of the group with brenton so I didn’t get to see the barracuda but the rest of the group did. Yesterday we hopped on a boat called the Joe to take us to El nido we had a 10 hour boat trip ahead of us but it went pretty quick because I slept the first 1 and a half hours then watched a movie and then slept again. So it was alright. When we arrived at El Nido we caught a trike to a resort called Island Front. This was a resort on the beach but it was to expensive so we stayed 2 nights and are now in a homestay on the beach in heart of El Nido until next time andiamo - Matt

Posted by mike1967 03:18 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

Manila

Our second full day in Manila and I think that we are finally getting the hang of the traffic. We took an amazing taxi ride to the Mall of Asia, the taxi threatened to fall apart at any time, I think it was held together with sticky tape, however we did make it. The Mall was a little disappointing, I don't really know what I was expecting but it was a lot of shops just like home only on a larger scale, including an Ice Skating Rink, Imax theatre and normal theatres.

We decided to brave a Jeepney ride to get back to the hotel area. We were directed to a Jeepney that would take us part of the way and had to swap onto another one. We were a little nervous about how to brave the traffic to jump from one to another without getting run over or beeped too much!! The local commuters are really laid back using them. They jump on and then pass up from passenger to passenger the money to the driver, meanwhile the driver is making his way through traffic seemingly unaware of what is happening in the back but ready to put his hand up to receive the money while continuing through the streets. There really seems to be no road rules but they obviously have a set of their own as it seems really chaotic but there are rarely any accidents.

We had a pretty quiet afternoon and packed up ready for an early start tomorrow morning to Coron.

Posted by mike1967 00:26 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

Manila

Hard lessons learnt already

sunny 28 °C

After our first night in Manila we had a bit of cabin fever and needed to get out of the room. We managed to see a cock fight and put on a bet. It was a mad spectacle. Probably wouldn't go again but good to see all the same. We had a couple of horse drawn buggy's called Kalesa's that took us all around. Man some people are poor. It was incredible to see tiny kids literally playing in the Manila traffic. the drivers took us to a shooting range where we all had a go at some pistols and the boys had a crack at an Uzi. Again probably never do it again but the smile on Matt's face was priceless. This is where we got ripped off the first time, at 50 pesos a round they reckon we used 280 because of the Uzi's which was bullshit but you don't want to argue with a gun shop owner in a foreign city. Call me a a big girl but we paid the money and got the f#ck out of Dodge. Something told me it was not up for negotiation. The second time we got hit was by the drivers, slammed us again. I was that pissed off with myself that I vowed it wouldn't happen again. The problems here are many and most operators will take advantage of tourists if you are not strong with them. Our problem is we are naive and not used to negotiating or bartering a price. I say it because it is our problem. Had I been a bit stronger and aggressive I would be a fair bit richer now. Anyway lessons learnt the hard way, blew our weeks budget in a day. Just about had enough of Manila, doesn't seem to be an awful lot to see except the hustle and bustle and it being so different to home. The people here have been very friendly. They seem to be very quick to smile and are very polite. One more day and we're off to Palawan, the reason why we came. Definately need to see some sand and coral.

Posted by mike1967 02:45 Archived in Philippines Tagged people Comments (0)

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