We came to Puerto Princesa when it was growing dark. In a bus terminal one annoying auto rickshaw – tricycle driver proposed to take us to the hotel for 150 php. Our attempts to get a discount of 50 php have failed but we didn’t try hard, one thing that comforted us that actually it was a price of a shuttle but in St-Pete per person.
There was no free rooms in the hotel where the driver brought us and the receptionist (he was european) called the near door hotel (duchesspensionpalawan.com) and found out that they had free rooms and the driver brought us to that hotel. The triple room with air-conditioner costed 850 php. It had WiFi. So we spent a night in the hotel, in the morning we caught a tricycle to the airport that costed 60 php. We had a flight to Fumaget via Manila the time in between the flights we spent for eating and finding out in the internet the possibility to buy a diving package and to do diving the next day from Dumaguete. Because we had some doubts about the access of dive-sites from the town.
A flight: Puerte Princesa-Manila-Dumaguete — 3950 php.
Arrival and accomodation
All our concerns about the distance were vain. Dumaguete is a small town and as it turned out that all the things needed (from diving centers to the airport) is within walking distance. Coming to town we took a lot of flyers of hotels in the airport and having passed taxi drivers hammering at us, we headed off to tricycles with indifferent faces. One guy followed us having understood that we were his clients. We said that we want to get down-town to the Public Market, he said that it would cost 150 php. We offered 100. He agreed. Later we found out that 100 php was even too expensive. On our way he proposed one inexpensive hotel. And it turned out that this hotel suited us at the price and with conditions of accomodation, so we agreed. It was a good hotel, double with an additional bed costed 930 php. There was a hot shower, air-conditioner, WiFi. Cold beer in a hotel’s hall costed 25 php. Awesome. Actually it’s easy to find a dozen of budget hotels starting from 150 php (in dorm rooms) in the range of walking distance.
Diving and Whale Shark Watching
As soon as we accomodated in our room we decided to sort things out with diving for tomorrow, as it was 6 pm and we only had one day to spend in Dumaguete. Having studied all the flyers from the airport and everything that was in the internet we decided to choose Harold Mansion Hostel. Hotels and diving center all in one. It took us 10 minutes to get to that place from our hotel. At first we wanted to go to Apo island, but when we saw tours to whale sharks to Oslob + diving near Sumilon island, we decided in favour of the second proposition. Diving costed 3000 php for 3 dives. The equipment is included in the price. Plus an extra charge: 250 php for whale sharks, 300 php for Sumilon island. 100 php for underwater photography of whale sharks, 200 php for underwater photography near Sumilon island.
The sharks. Of course i’ve been waiting for something different. The sharks are domesticated. There’s an area alongshore where a coulple of whale sharks dwell, these sharks are constantly being lured from a boat. The area is closed-in with buoys, no net or something like that. But why sharks do not go from that area anywhere to be on their own reasources anywhere – that is still incomprehensible. Probably they got lazy and don’t have a desire to prowl the oceans in search of plankton. We found out that 5 whale sharks inhibit this place. But it’s unclear does every shark has it’s owner or one person owns this business?
This scene looks like this: the boatman sails his boat,throwing overboard the baiting, a huge fish with opened jaws sails after him. About 10 snorkelers some of them with underwater photocameras or videocameras surround this shark. Divers sail under the shark but the only thing she cares about is the food, coming out of the bail of her nourisher. 🙂 Of course It’s cool to dive close to this huge 5 meters long fish, but everything what’s going on, mildly saying, in unnatural conditions,dissapoints me. You can dive like that in a seaquarium… :unsure:
Diving near Sumilon island was great! Not taking into account that my camera lens constanly sweated and during my first and seccond dive i had to look at a box with a blurred screen (but i paid for photography!). Diving was sufficiently memorable. Not only by it’s beautifUl corals, but by a diversity of fauna. I saw: some species of nudibranch, a couple of moray eels, lots of lionfish, a flock of mackerel, a couple of turrums, an eagle ray, a cuttle-fish, sand-eels, a flounder, a scorpion-fish! Both dives the second and the third one were in a relaxed drift mode alongshore at shallow depths (to 20 meters depth).
The rest between dives took place on a beautiful beach of Sumilon island.
Cafe in Dumaguete
We were happy again to find cheap food. In local diners they offer a couple of hot dish helpings (mainly it’s pork, rarely fish, beef, liver, chicken) with rice and beverage (kind of Yupi) costs 100 php. European food in fast food restaurants is a little bit more expensive, but not that expensive. The same is with local cafes and restaurants, located alongshore oriented on a small amount of tourists. Foods is a little bit expensive here, but anyway, it’s enormously cheaper than in St-Pete and moreover cheaper than in Moscow. The only problem is with fresh salads. At some places fresh salads are just not served, at some places fresh salads cost almost like a hot dish and consist of a few slices of tomatoes, cucumbers, some onion + vinegar dressing. But we didn’t understand why fresh salads are so expensive. 😕
Next morning we had a ferry to Mindanao island to Iligan city.