Philippines above and underwater

Donsol

Donsol is a small village and noone knew about it while in 90’s some diver noticed that whale sharks often appear in here. And divers from all over the world rush to one of the cosmopolis of obsevation over the whale sharks.

The first thing that caught the eye was an inadequate price for the offer terms. We were inspecting some offers homestaysthere are houses of locals with rooms equiped for let out in the center of a village. For a room wihtout an air-conditioner with a bathroom unstairs they want 800 php, i say:”here is an air-conditioner, does it work?” They say if you want a room with an air-conditioner in the room and with a bathroom on your floor it will cost you 1200 php! Wow — 1200 php for such a digging 😕 We go to look at another house the situation is almost the same but a little bit better but there is no air-condinioner at all, with a shared bathroom costs 700 php. “Something is wrong” we think and go to look further. :sceptic:

We see a big beautiful Giddy’s Place Dive Resort — the prices for accomodationer here are stratospheric, but they have some backpacker’s rooms for 600 php. We go to look at them. Аааааа! A wood kennel on the magins made of veneer, the interior design reminds me of an outhouse. 😯 A huge cockroach runs on the floor! Air-conditioner and conveniences are out of the question there is no furniture in that kennel, the place is enough only to leave some bags in here. And they want 600 php per person for this! 😯 I went to the booth to buy some beer because i needed to calm down immediately and comprehend this blant horror we just saw. :-!

I drink a bottle in three gulps. Take another one and calm down. Now i need to decided how to contact the manager for a diving center where we booked diving for tomorrow. I got her phone number in my e-mail but i have no internet. Boldly i ask the password from their Wi-fi at the reception-desk of Giddy’s Place and find the necessary letter. I ask a phone to call from the locals in the booth (for i have no conscience to ask for a phone at the reception) and I call the office.
Oh happy day! Finaally i hear a ringing voice of Ruby in the phone – they must be tired of waiting for us for according to the plan we had to come few hours ago. Conceiving them as saviours i start to complain about Seba Pacific Air, hardships of our travel and very expensive accomodations at Giddy’s Place and ask them to take us from here and advice something more adequate for an overnight.

15 minutes later a tricycle came for us and having crossed the bridge we rode along the shore to Donsol Bay Resort, where according to Ruby’s words were good rooms with air-condition and hot water 1500 php for 3 of us. Having driven about 5 km we reached the place of destination. The resort is built relatively recently and the impression is that it’s partially constructed. And there were no visitors except us. But it didn’t upset us – the room is excellent and can’t be compared in any way to that cloaca where they wanted 600 php per person at Giddy’s Place. 😎

So we checked-in and decided to manage our tomorrow’s diving. And we are in a dilemma: should we go just for three dives tomorrow,two of which are on Manta Bowl but there are no sharks or should we take two dives and then go to another place to snorkel with a whale shark. The second variant is 1500 php too much because we are to get to another place after a second dive and we need a boat.

Having found out that we have already swum with whale sharks in Oslob, Ruby dispels our doubts and tells us even not to think about it – the local amusement according to her words does not differ that much from one in Oslob. It’s the same line of boats taking snorkelers to a huge fish, the only difference is that there are no divers underwater because diving with whale sharks is officially forbidden in here. So we agreed for two dives – the first one at San Miguel Island and two more at Manta Bowl.

At our request the hotel staff cooked a sophisticated dinner for us from some shrimps left in the fridge, we drank beer with them, Karastel sang «No Women No Cry», well all in all we had a good time. Having found out that we were from Russia the hotel guys boasted of having a couple of divers Alexander and Natasha at their hotel, who stayed in here for a whole week. Hotel guys paraded their knowledge of Russian language – «stol (means a table in Russian)», «stool (means a chair in Russian)». 😀 Having wandered around the cafe i found a huge toad, after that their vacabulary was renewed with a word «lyagukha (means a frog in Russian, has a derogative overtone»… We drank a couple of beers and went to bed. :zzz:

Diving at San Miguel island

The morning turned out to be gloomy – disgusting almost St-Peter’s-like rain drizzled. We did’t want our last day in Philipinnes to be like that. But one should believe. While we had breakfast, put the equipment into a boat and the finally the desired tropical sun came out.

Diving at San Miguel island didn’t promise San Miguel Big fish. Macro-dive, as they say. And they didn’t deceive us! We saw several species of fascinating nudibranch, some species of prawns and a very strange specimen of a star-fish – i never met such kind of star-fish. I’m not much of a photomacrographer and that’s because the most of what i saw i couldn’t photograph in a satisfactorily quality. 🙁

Then we moved to «manta ray». There are pretty strong streams in these parts of a dive-site. That’s why everyone got a rope with a clinch which was meant to hook at the reef to save some energy during the inaction periods. A short breathing and to the bottom again.

As soon as we dived a whip-tailed shark appeared, that circled for a couple of seconds and dissapeared in the blue. Unfortunately that shark was the only big fish we saw that day. No matter how long we crawled over the bottom, hooking it, no matter how hard we froze on a 25-meters depth (water there was colder than on other dive-sites) no matter how hard we peered into the blue with hope – it was all in vain. We didn’t get to see any manta ray that day. 😥

I never regret anything during my travelling and that’s why we took our frustrated meeting with manta ray with humour. Well we were out of luck. But yesterday they even saw four manta ray. We filled-in our log-books, packed our things (brought from the resort to the office in advance), take a picture of an old whale shark and our last sun-set and got in a van.

We have a flight to Manila at 7 am and we decided to get to Legazpi and stay the night over as close to the airport as possible in order to wake up later then. 0:-) A quite comfortable minivan with air-condition got us to Legazpi Airport Hotel which costed 300 php per person. The name of the hotel speaks for it-self – the hotel is close to the airport.

Despite the stereotype that stuck in my mind that all the airport hotels are not really budget the Legazpi Airport Hotel turned out to be quite at a reasonable price. Double with an additional bed costed us 1400 php. The hotel surprised us with an excellent buffet breakfast. All ther rooms of the hotel have Wifi, air-condition and hot water. You can easily pace out the distance the exit from the hotel to the entrance of the departure area — I strongly recommend this hotel whose who have an early flight from Legazpi!

Manila

On coming to Manila some news waited for us that gave us a pain in the neck early in the morning and made us search the whole airport several times in order to find a way out of this idiotic situation.: International Manila airport does not have a left-luggage! ]:-) I wanted to believe that it was really under repair or something else. But it blows my mind to think that there is no left-baggage in the international terminal of a huge airport where thousands of tourists from all over the world come in transit! :sceptic:

The idea of wandering the town with rucksacks the whole day (a flight to Dubai was at 23:40) didn’t make us happy at all. We didn’t want to check in the hotel just to leave our things for the day either. The airport workers suggested to leave things in the Emirates office but it was just 10 am and the office opened up at 13:30.

Finally we decided to go to the shopping mall Of Asia and leave things in the a free of charge self-luggage. The taxi from Terminal 1 to Mall Of Asia — costs 200 php.

The rest of the day we spent hanging out in a huge shopping mall, spending ourlast money on souveniers and different small useless things. In the evening of the same day we said good-bye to the capital of Philippines and a huge iron bird took us home…

Traveler, photographer, editor.

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