Philippines above and underwater

Tangat Island diving (Tangat Island), Busuanga

The first day

The first dive-site (East Tangat Gunboat) was only one hour by boat. The ship laid on a slope almost close to the shore (that’s why the diving starts offshore), on a 20 meters depth. Actually Coron is world famous among wreck-diving fans-for the waters washing Calamian islands have a real colection of ships that sunk in 40’s when Japaneese fleet, trying to reinforce it’s positions on Philippines was attacked by U.S aviation. There are a lot of sites in the internet that describe Coron’s wrecks and it’s history here is one of this sites — coronwrecks.com.

Our diving instructor was a funny guy: my companions did their first diving, got into a wreck and submerged to 30 meters depth… They were thrilled to bits! You bet! Usually the first certificated diving takes place in ordinary facilities… And there you have the first dive with a level of Advanced! There’s no need to describe diving to wrecks, but it’s better to show some pictures.

The second dive took place on Barracuda Lake. From here on I would like to say a little bit more because such kind of diving you will remember the whole life. I would like to say that the island where this lake is located is incredibly beautiful. You can’t help but constantly taking pictures while approaching it. High calciferous cliffs turned into sharp peaks by the driving rain during thousands of years, shooting up out of pure lightcyan water. It looks absolutely fantastic. Like a picture-postcard! By the way, those who is not into diving can take a boat-tour, you can check out the itineraries and prices on this site Coron Tours.

The most interesting part starts on a lake underwater… It’s a fresh lake, well not really fresh. As a matter of fact it is connected with the sea by underpasses and the water is brackish over there. Our instuctor told us that there was a thermal layer – layer of warm water that’s why we had to dive without diving suits.

We took the diving equipment from a boat, pass a small cliff and jumped into the water from the catwalks. The lake looked marvelous! It was surrounded by high calciferous cliffs. The water was of such an incredible transparency and I never saw such transparent water. You could clearly see all the details in the water several tens of meters deep. The fauna was scarce in this lake but even without fauna the lakes made a deep impression on us.

We dived deeper and suddenly on 20-meters deepth we got into a layer of almost hot water. Of course i could imagine what was the thermal layer, but I never experienced it first-hand. The world went dark before my eyes, the outlines of the objects became blurry. I had a feeling that I got into a hot tub with scuba… Anxiously I looked at underwater housing with a camera inside and wondered if it was designed to work in those kind of conditions? :-) Our instructor showed us the bottom that looked like some ooze, consisted of remnants of shells of some shellfish inhabiting the bottom of the lake. You could put your hand into the ooze and it easily sink to the elbow length. Our instructor decided to give us a small show — he did some power kicks and stuck his head in this ooze! Just like in the cartoon where an ostrich hid his head in the sand. Such a funny guy!

We dived deeper and at a depth of more than 30 meters we swam to the cave. The instructor took a flashlight from one the divers, dived into the cave, checked it with a flashlight and invited me to get into that cave. Because I was an advanced diver, and the others had just open water certificates :-) It was a little bit scary for i didn’t have a flashlight and it was rather dangerous to get into an unknown narrow cave with sharp stones in the darkness… So i took it upon me. The others were waiting at the entrance of the cave. The instructor showed me to swim ahead, he swam behind me and lit me the way. “Lit me the way” that’s rather overstated! But actually i could see something and that was good.

The cave began to converge so I had to control with all eyes the buoyancy not to hit the scuba tank against the cave roof and not to get hooked on something. At some time the cave split into very narrow holes. I was perplexed, did I really have to get in THERE?!Different bad thoughts ran through my head… If i were to swim inside there was no way to get out of there, because it would be impossible to turn around in that hole. But maybe there was a through output? But i looked into the darkness and understood that if there were an exit i could see at least a small glimpse. But there was only darkness…

The instructor shines this hole with his flashlight, but i don’t understand what he wants to say, because i can’t see him, everything i see is the beam. Do i really have to swim into that hole?! I don’t want to do this. I do a timid small move forward, but thanks God he tugs my fin and shows me with the help of the flashlight that we should swim back. I turn around with an effort and we swim back to the exit… Coming back to St-Petersburg I found the description of this cave: this cave connects the lake with the sea and it is allowed to swim inside this cave only 30 meters deep from the entrance. The minimal level of training required for diving into this cave — AOWD.

In general, in spite of a scarce aquatic fauna (I didn’t see any barracudas, I doubt that they dwell this place), diving in this lake made the greatest impression on me. Diving into this lake is worthy visiting Coron!

The third dive that took place on Twin Peaks riff, not far from the Barracuda Lake, was kind of relaxing, that was very handy after two rather deep dives rich with impressions.

The second day

Three wrecks were planned for the second day. The first one (Tangat Wreck), which was in more than an hour boat-trip distance, is a big vessel, laying on a decent deep (25-30 meters) on another part of the Tangat island. There are pearl farms near-by. The conditions are more comlicated, the visibility is worse, there are some streams and the steamship is bigger with a number of compartments where you can swim.

The second wreck (Olympia Maru) is just a hundred miles away. The wreck is a big 120 – meters long cargo vessel on it’s beam ends. They charge fee for the possibility to see it. A small boat moored alongside our boat and we pay 150 php per each. I didn’t understand why is this wreck better than another, that one should pay to see it…

We didn’t visit a third wreck that day. Because the guys said that it didn’t go according to plan, so they proposed to confine our-selves to 2 dives, because we didn’t have enough time for the third dive.

In general, diving close to Coron and Busuanga islands is a real Klondike for the fans of wreck-diving. There are few places on earth where you can find a number of wrecks, accessible for recreational diving within a radious of several tens of kilometers. Forbes Traveller Magazine included Coron and Busuanga islands into a top ten interesting diving places.

A joyful initiation ceremony of our new-sprung divers by the means of drinking beer through a snorkel, was waiting for our certified divers. The instructor went to a shop to buy some beer and they carried out the rite of initiation accompanied by the applause of bystanders. It was funny. :lol:

After diving we decided to climb a mountain where in the theory one could see a great view of the sunset. We didn’t calculate the time and drenched in sweat we climbed to the top of the mountain by the time the sun has already set, but we got to take some pictures.

Balut

In the evening i got familiar with balut. Before our trip to Philippines i didn’t even know about this “delicacy”. I saw the first balut sellers in Manila but didn’t notice because i thought that they sold boiled eggs. Karastel crack a joke about it: «Here are the unborn embrios of ducklings I read about in the internet.Try it!» I had no scruples to do it in Manila and I thought that i have to do this. What about the immersion the culture, the acquaintance with the country and it’s traditions.

This “delight” costed 15 php. The seller gave me an egg, one should peel the half of an egg to see an unborn embrio, it looked disgusting. The seller offered me to season it with salt and pour it with vinegar (so it wouldn’t be that repugnant, I suppose)… All the local gapers were watching me with interest and smiled. At first one should drink the liquid where this nestling floats. This is the most delicious part as they say! I was lucky the egg almost didn’t contain that liquid. Thanks God! So I take over right away to solids. I’m trying it. It tastes loathsome! :-! It tastes like an egg but you feel that you’re chewing some part of a bird, instead of a boiled white-egg. Well I couldn’t eat it up. :| And when I saw the dark fragments of forming feather I understood that it was time to stop the show. I appologized, throw an egg away and made the overwatching Philippinos laugh. It put me off my food for some time that evening…

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