Trip planning and ticket purchasing
«The Kingdom of seven thousand islands» — this is how they call Philippines in the promotional videos that surf world wide web. Having watched these videos it’s impossible not to want to see at least the smallest part of this country with one’s own eyes. «You don’t like this island? Then why don’t you visit another 7106!».
We decided to go to the Philippines about a year and a half before the trip, we bought the tickets three months before the trip (Emirates: St-Petersburg-Dubai-Manila, ~$920). And we started to work through the itinerary of pur trip.
The main objective of the trip was diving that’s why such places as Boracay (world-known beach resort, which is in the top ten of world best beaches) were consciously left out in the cold. Day and night googling and studying of Vinskiy forum eventually bore some fruit, giving birth to the next itinerary: Manila-Busuanga(Coron)-El Nido Puerte Princesa-Dumaguete-Iligan-isle Bohol-Donson-Manila. We bought all the connecting flights and ferry tickets in advance. And we understood it later that we should not have been that greedy with our desire to see everything in 20 days. In fact we spent one third of the whole journey on the
way … 🙁
Manila greeted us with it’s traditional tropical sauna. It rained… And it was hot, wet and cloudy. Although while we were landing the darkness fell and nebulosity didn’t mean a thing.
By the way, I couldn’t find any book store with guide-books and maps in the international terminal NAIA. But there was a Department Of Tourism Office on the terrace of the first floor in the departure area where you can take a good map of Manila and also some books and papers to look throughfree of charge!
The hotel driver met us at the airport. We decided to book a hotel in the internet in advance for we thought that we won’t be able to look for the hotel after a 20-hour flight. We have chosen a fairly decent hotel for a comfortable price Kabayan. Double room: 1800 php, breafast and lunch for two persons included. Taxi from the airport: 330 php. In fact we could have reached an agreement with an owner-driver fo 200 php, but we had neither energy nor desire to do this. Our only desire was to leave our baggage, take a shower and have a rest from a long flight. The hotel was big, it was located on a busy street; with lots of people and cars. Rush, noise, jeepneys roar…
We left the hotel to look around and check out the diversity of local food in shops. We found a shopping mall, took a couple of beers, some fish, checked out the prices for the local alhocol and happy about everything we went back to the hotel to have a supper and to surf the internet. The food turned out to be cheap, asian version of business-lunch costed $4-5:
- vegetable soup on a meat-broth,
- cuddlefish rice,
- some kind of beverage more like Yupi.
But we bought beer in a shop that’s why we didn’t care about a beverage. The hotel had a free wi-fi, but we had some problems with wi-fi in a room, so we had to surf the internet downstairs in a cafe.
We packed our things in the morning, had breakfast, took a taxi to the airport and set off. The driver turned out to be very sly and all the time danced around the question of price for the taxi and said that it depended on a traffic. Having arrived to the airport the driver named such an inadequate price and we said that it was very expensive and that a seperate taxi takes 300 php and we were going pay the same price to him. The driver complained the traffic and expensive gasoline. So he managed to bargain another hundred php more (that’s what we counted for) and went away…
Just one hour flight from Manila and skyscrapers of asian megapolis gave way to the almost post-card -like views of coral islands framed in coral reefs. Couple of minutes more and we landed in the airport of Busuanga, located on the similar island – one of the largest Calamian islands. In order to avoid the confusion I would like to clarify it. The largest island is called Busuanga, so is the name of the airport where all the airplanes land, but the town is called Coron (Coron-town). Coron island is located near-by and people go to this island to see it’s interesting things…
Manila-Busuanga flight with Zest Air: 1450 php.
At the exit of the arrival area a lot of cab-drivers offered their services. You could take a taxi or a minivan. The second transport was cheaper that’s why we got into a minivan with other pale-face travelers, said the name of the hotel and set off. It should have been noted that the nature around was very weird. Not that it was not that picturesque but one usually imagined the flora of tropical islands differently. There were flat and almost woodless hills covered with sunbaked grass only sometimes you could see separate trees and bushes…
We booked the hotel in advance and payed for it by a card on Agoda.com.
We have chosen Ralph Pension House. Triple Delux-Room with the air-conditioner: $40. Taking into account that there were three of us it turned out to be rather reasonable. Minivan debarked us on a square of Coron-town and left, so we went to look for our hotel using a free sketch-map, that we took at the airport. The town was rather small and everything was located near-by. In a few minutes we were at the reception-desk. Left our baggage in a room. Now we could say that the holiday has stated…
Having accomodated in a room we decided to plunge in the sea as soon as possible. For starters, we went to the tourist’s office, located on a square to grow familiar with the town and get some more information. We found free of charge maps, booklets with general information about Calamian people, fly sheets of local hotels and guest-houses. We asked the receptionist of the hotel if we could swim to snorkelnear-by… He showed us some place on the map and told us that we could take a tricycle for an adequate price. We thanked him and went to bargain…
Was it something we misunderstood or was it something the man didn’t tell us, but the drivers were of no tractable spirit and didn’t want to drive us for the money that we proposed. They wanted 500 php for a round trip. We said that we needed only a drop by. One driver agreed to take us for one-hundred and when we reached the place he demanded one hundred per person. I said: “Are you crazy? I told you one hundred for three of us”. The driver made a sad face and complained on expensive gasoline (well that’s sacred in these places and no ride can do without a complaint on the expensive gasoline). So i showed a lack of determination and gave him one hundred php over and he left…
The beach turned out to be rather unclean: a couple of local companies hung out and gaped on us like we were some kind of show, the water was too muddy for snorkling and the entry to the beach was fee-paying фи. Sure, how can they get without a fee?… But the main objective was achieved-we swam in the sea, walked along the sea-shore and though the water was muddy we even got to see the corals, sea-stars, sea-eggs and some sea fish – all in all that was enough to get a feeling that you finally swam in the SEA)).
The sun began to set, we didn’t have a lot of time for we had to make arrangements about a tomorrow’s diving and moreover there was no tricycles on the beach for us to get back so we decided to walk. According to the map it was a short distance just 5 km long so we got back to the hotel in an hour, gazing at the surroundings, taking pictures. The gold rays of the declining sun turned the ordinary landscapes into almost post-card-like views… On our way to the hotel we took a flusk of dark Tanduay in a small shop and we finally tasted this legendary beverage and later no day was spend without this beverage…
When we got to the hotel it was almost dark. So we went to look for a diving center. We googled for diving centers in advance. That’s why we were looking for certain diving center — Coron Divers. As I have already written, the town was small and everything that a tourist needed was located in a 5-10 minute walk. “Coron Divers” diving center was no exception and it turned out to be located 50 meters away from our hotel on the same street actually. The price for the diving was — 2700 php for 3 dives a day. Their competitors — Sea Dive had higher prices. The price on their site was — 3950 php for 3 dives. Probably it was possible to get a discount at their place but we didn’t want to try. Sveta and Karastel didn’t have diving certificates, they only studied the theory in St-Pete OWD, that’s why the price for them was a little bit higher. We booked two days for 3 dives a day: the first day included — wreck + barracuda-lake + reef, the second day included — diving to 3 wrecks. So we took some beer and got back to the hotel.
On the verandah of the hotel we met a company of local Filippinos, they drank local brandy and invited us to join them. The evening was great and we hung out. Filippinoes turned out to be sociable and friendly and were partial to drink. Our vocabulary acquired such new very important phrases as “how much does it cost?”, “expensive!” and “give me a discount!”.
Next morning I went for diving with a buzzing head and took a bottle of water with me. Our guide looked at me and wondered if I was ok and if I was sure that I was ready for a dive. !!!!!Everything is according to PADI! I understand this now passing the exam for «divemasters» certificate:-)
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. 😆
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.
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…
Ferry Coron — El Nido
Next morning we planned a ferry to El Nido. We bought the tickets in advance via El Nido Art-Cafe and payed via PayPal (1600 php per person, this price included simple lunch and a bottle of water). People getting to El Nido gathered on a wharf at a resort restaurant Sea Dive and went on a small boat to a ferry. There are a lot of stories about the horrible episodes of trips on this itinerary starting with a heavy pitching during eight hours of a trip and driving rains that wash down everything on deck and ending with wrecks and overturning of this ferry with tourists and their baggage. 😯 But we didn’t even care or think about it.
The weather was excellent. The ferry set off according to the schedule at 8:30, but actually the ferry set off after nice o’clock. We were lucky wit the weather for there was ship motions, no rain. A couple of bottles of beer and a bottle of rum made this trip into a pleasant amusement. We even had time to sleep and to look around. Throughout the itinerary the ferry goes along or between some islands. The landscapes are so diverse here you can find vulcanogenetic black rocks, stripes of beaches with coconut palms and local villages and also small unnamed uninhibited islands. Seven hour trip went too quickly and at 5 pm we saw mountainous calciferous cliffs of El Nido Bay.
In St-Pete we booked a hotel (Marina Garden Beachfront Inn) in El Nido. As it turned out to be it was in vain. Because we could do everything on-site, but we decided not to give a rat’s tail about it and stay in a hotel for 3 nights like marshmaloow shoes. The hotel was quite respectable with a beachfront so to say you wake up to the sound of the sea lapping against the rocks. Everything is as it should be. 🙂 We paid 2600 php per night for the pleasure to live in a triple -room (breakfast included). It was huge money by philippino’s measurements! While we were looking for our hotel some people came to us and offered inexpensive accomodation about 1000 php per room. So it is safe to say that if you want to save some money on accomodation you shouldn’t fuss and book a hotel in advance. You can check out everything on-site and chose what suits the balance of the price/comfort level.
El Nido turned out to be the only place during our trip where we had ill luck with the weather. My attempt to wake up next morning at 6 am to take a picture of El Nido Bay in gold rays of the rising sun – was a complete washout. 🙁 The early morning was cloudy, gloomy and rainy. As a result we decided to spend the whole day in a town in idlness and were given to our bellies.
The whole town it’s just a couple of streets which go parallel to the shore teeming with cafes and local diners, tourist’s booths offering a standard set of everything (boat (ferry) tours along islands and lagoons, bus and boat tickets, diving, bike and minivan rent and lots of other stuff). The food is cheap. It will cost you about 200 php in a standard european -oriented cafe. And if you’re not fastidious to have a bite a local diner you can spend only 70 php.
Having explored everything all around we decidedd to book diving to tomorrow. In a diving center Sea Dog they told us that everything was busy for tomorrow and they sent us to their partner Plankton Divers. Prices for diving in El Nido are almost the same, but higher than in Coron — 3300 php for 3 dives. We suggested 3000 php. They agreed to give a discount easily. 🙂 The rent of the diving equipment (BCD, regulator, fins and diving suit) is included in the price everywhere. If you have your own equipment i suppose you can get a discount. :whistling:
Next morning turned out to be gloomy again. It’s not that we were upset about it taking into account that we were not going to the beach, but underwater, but anyway even when it’s sunny the reef underwater looks more picturesque than in a dull weather. Our instructor proudly introduced him-self as Kaka. Well we didn’t want to dissapoint him saying that his name sounded not really euphoniously in Russian (kaka in Russian means caloy or something disgusting, shit, trash).
The first dive (site South Entalula) was not any remarkable – fusiliers, clownfish, a flock of small barracudas. Everything is beautiful but more or less smooth. Then we relaxed on the beach and went to the second dive (site South Minilock). That’s where we liked a lot – the site had a big deversity of fish. Enormous flocks of big-eyed snappers and mackerel. It was awesome! During the second dive the port of my camera lens began to sweat and for some time i was left without my camera, but anyway i took some pictures. On the third dive we met a flock of huge (one meter long size) humphead parrot fishes. Just like in Sipadan. We also saw a turtoise beetle. =^_^= We also met the representatives of a macro-world: nidibranch, shrimps and a black ribbon eel. Taking five-point-grading scale i will estimate diving as a solid “4”. I will give firm “5” to the overwater beauty!
El Nido — Puerto-Princesa
Coming back from diving we had a very-far simple task to plan our next day so as to leaving El Nido in the morning we could manage to visit the “Subterranean River National Park” in the afternoon and get to Puerto Princesa in the evening, where we had a flight to Dumaguete the next day. A task turned out to be extremely difficult of accomplishment and especially for us in this particular case unachievable. On “Vinskiy (Vinsky) forum” I read people’s reports, where they managed to do this trick, but all our endevours to arrange this trip ended up in people’s saying that it was impossible to do this in one day. The problem was that to visit the National Park we should get a permission in the Park’s office. They said that all the cards of admission were given for the next day and we could only make it in two days – to come to Sabang tomorrow to get a card of permission, overnight at a hotel and see the River the next day. 🙁
This plan didn’t suit us so we decided to forget about the River moreover initially we didn’t plan it as the foremost object (stalactites, stalagmites and subterranean rivers couldn’t astonish me after the huge Mulu caves I saw in Malaysia), we just wanted to try to see it on our itinerary. That’s why we decided to buy tickets for a late bus to Puerto Princesa (the latest bus turned out to be at 13:00) to see something else for the rest of the day. We bought bus-tickets in El Nido Art Cafe. The bus-ticket is — 600 php per person. The duration time is 5 hours.
To benefit from the remaining time we decided to rent bicycles and go to see something interesting in the neighborhood of El Nido. You can hire bicycles in El Nido Art Cafe (350 php for a half day) or you can hire a bicycle outdoors. The second varient is cheaper (250 php). So we chose to see the waterfall. The brochure said that it took 20 km to get there. This distance was quite reachable for a bicycle.
At the beginning it went more or less smoothly not taking into account thefact that we slightly over-estimated Sveta’s physical capacities — she had a hard time with uphill ascents and we constantly had to adjust to her velocity, stopping from time to time to wait for her, in between we observed the routine scenes of rural living of Philippinos. Five kilometers away from El Nido we passed a turn to «El Nido Airport». Funny. But airplanes really fly from this place: a small company ITI offers daily flights to Manila and back.
We moved faraway but when we asked local people how close was the waterfall they all gave different answers. In 10-15 kilometers the road turned into a dirt-track or rather filled with coarse chips and our trip became harder. And suddenly it rained. It not just rained but it was a real downfall which finally turned everything into a real swamp. Riding the dirt, puddles and rocks all covered in dirt soaking wet clock – watching from time to time and not estimating our abilities to get back in time we kept going.
Later grave doubts began to come in on us regarding the reality of our task. Finally after another question:«how long to waterfalls?», one man said that it was about along coarse chips and we can’t get without him as a guide. We understood that it was a total failure so we decided to turn around and go back otherwise we could miss our bus. Suddenly another surprise got me because of the constant rock jumping the chamber on a rear wheel of my bicycle blew out and i felt that my wheel rim rode coarse chips. Here we go i thought. That’s all i needed. 😯
The situation needed an urgent strategic decision for the prospect to miss the last bus (and as a consequence to miss tomorrow’s morning flight from Puerto Princesa) was getting more real. So i sent my companions forward to checkout from the hotel and pack the things not to miss any time and so i got off my bicycle and walked hoping to stop any transport to get to El Nido with my bicycle with. But by hard adventure there was no transport.
So i walked for about 2-3 kilometers but didn’t meet any transport except people on motobikes. Those people drove by, looked at me and indifferently drive ahead… And suddenly what a miracle! I saw an upcoming tricycle and started to gesticulate. A family (mother with 2 kids + a pig) kindly agreed to take me with them, probably startled with my desire to ride in the iron basket with a pig. 😕 To my question how much would it cost they said they didn’t know, how much would you give… So we settled and fitted my bicycle. We ride though slowly but it was good anyway. I felt relieved it seemed like I still had some time.
And suddenly was it the bicycle to touch the pig or was it a bad dream the pig had, but she began to jump on me and for a moment i even felt her teeth on my leg! We stopped, i jumped out of a tricycle and a woman said: «that’s ok. we gonna solve this problem!». And she started to cord up the pig closer to the corner of the basket and do some kind of a muzzle from the rope. :sceptic: the pig squealed – growled and bulked. Finally they made it and we got to the place of destination. Being happy that i got home i gave them 200 php thanked them for the their help. They were at a loss from my generosity and left very pleased. 😎
We got back the bycycles, complained that couldn’t see anything, complained the rain and bad road. I thought they would fine me for the broken chamber – but they didn’t. They even offered me to take another bicycle, and give another try i said no, thank you! 😀 We checked out from the hotel, had lunch, took two flusks of white and red rum with us and got into the bus. Tanduay made our way positive and relaxed. 0:-)
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.
We ignored the inscription in an electronic ticket “to be in the terminal 4 hours before the departure” and it was right. Our ferry set off at 7:30 and we had no desire to wake up at 3:30 in order to nid-nod for 4 hours in a departure lounge. The reception-girl told us that it was more than enough to leave the hotel at 6 o ‘clock. And so we did. We put an alarm-clock at 5:30.
At 6 o ‘clock we sat at the reception of the hotel, the tricycle came over. When we asked: “how much for the three of us to get to SuperFerry terminal» he barked something unarticulate. I said 70 php. He said Ok. The city is small and everything is close, so if you have just one rucksack you can easily walk to Superferry terminal. Well you can walk to the aiport as well…
On entering the terminal you should pay fee. Well it’s an obligatory thing in Philippines they can’t get away without a fee. It costs 15 php to enter the terminal. We looked at our electronic tickets, fixed the tokens. Then we went through a personal inspection just like in airport. X-ray control didn’t work and they asked to open our bags. We went through. Then they suddenly found a knife in Karastel’s bag which he should checked seperately and he may take it after coming to Iligan. So we checked the knife. He started to write out a receipt for a knife and asked for our tickets. He stared at our tickets like a stuck pig. Then said: “These are electronic tickets and you should go to the office and change them for original tickets”. Here we go! 😯 Those two goblins saw our tickets, let us in and didn’t say anything.
I wonder if this story with a knife hadn’t happen would they allow us to enter a ferry the last minute?! 😕
SuperFerry office locats outsite the terminal on a street at the main entrance. You should write in the name of a card-holder who bought these tickes, it’s duration and sign it. But they don’t ask for a passport so this means anyone can do this. And then they exchange the elecronic tickets to original tickets printed on a matrix printer. These tickets look like those we had earlier for long distance trains.
They didn’t ask for our passports neither before the embarkment nor after the embarkment.
While we were waiting for the imbarkation to a ferry we had breakfast here (chicken fillet au gratin – 50 php, boiled egg – 10 php, instant coffee — 15 php) and registered. Well actually the taken security measures gave us a nudge that either ferry is the most unfortunate kind of transport or we’re going to the unfortunate place. :-). After the inspection we were registered, they took a picture of everyone on a web-cam. Before going to the ferry we were made to put our bags before the gangway for the cynological inspection. A group of guys in camouflage gear with tommy-guns, looking like Somalian pirates, observed everything gloomly (where are we going?! :cry:). As we got it later dogs were looking for explosives.
We had the cheapest tickes (692 php with taxes), accomodation on RED1-A. It is a huge drafty deck without air-conditioning with two rows of two-story beds stuffed with, mildly saying, not really well-to-do people. It is like our couchette car but with a bigger capacity. According to the layout hanging on the wall i counted that it’s possible to accomodate more than 1000 people on our deck.
It was a medley of all kinds of people: a lot of Moslems (probably from Mindanao), lots of people were with large trunks, boxes and even with furniture and plunder, it looked like some people were on the road for quite some time, some butt-naked kids were running all around, well everything as it should be. It’s Asia. We didn’t see any european on a ferry at all. So what to say about our deck. 😆
One deck higher there was the same deck as ours + cafe (beer – 60 php, a lump of tuna + vegetables – 140 i think). Another deck higher there was a deck with air-conditioning with reception and the official representative of the company. It was a tourist class. And it was nice in here. 10-seated bunkrooms. A lot of bunkrooms were totally vacant. We asked if it was possible for us to move in here, they told us that we should pay extra 300 per person. But we didn’t do this because we were soon to come the place of destination. On that deck there was a small nice well air conditioned and almost always empty cafe (beer costed — 65 php).
Higher there was an — air-deck. The highest open iron deck where you can wander on and look around.
The first impression of approaching Iligan was that we came to some cloacae. While approaching the shore the water turns from blue colour into a colour of tea with milk. Probably it’s by virtue of cement plant, located near-by. I assume that it’s also because rather a large river runs into the sea in this place.
The clouds overrun from the shore and it rained heavily. We came alongside. Butt-naked kids swim under the ship from both it’s sides. The passengers from the upper decks throw them small change. The kids try to catch the money, if they can’t do this, they dive into the muddy water and manage miraculously to fish the money out and put it behind the cheek. A kind of entertainment. It is such a gloomy scene. 🙁
Crows of porters line up in two ranks alongside the quay. At one point the gangway descents and the show starts. The porters take the gangway by storm and spread out the decks in search of passangers who need help. They rush like crazy between the crowd and trunks, jesticulate, yell and grab some bags. How do they specify that quickly who needs their help and how do they know what bags to take – it remained an enigma for me. Well that was like HELL!
Considering the fact that about 1000 people were leaving the ferry all the people carried bags and boxes and the gangway was narrow, however crazy porters were running all over the place as a result it took us about an hour or even hour and a half to descent from the ferry.
The city does not make a pleasant impression either. As soon as you leave the sea terminal the beggars start to bother. We see a door of some miraculously occured in here tour-office and make haste to hide in there from the street beggars. We try to explain to the people working in here that we need a hotel somewhere near-by. The conversation gets kinda complicated, they discuss something, argue and it’s incomprehensible why the question about a hotel arouses a discord.
We find a shabby schematic map on a reception desk with marked hotels on it and we go to ook at these hotels. The first hotel turned out to be in 5 minute walk. The receptionist listlessly showed me a room. I decide that we should go and look for something else and we go to Jalexiss Inn. According to the map this hotel is also near-by and we find it in 10minutes. This hotels looks more comfortable than the former one, the prices are ridiculous and we decided to take separate rooms and live like self-respecting human beings.
A single room with a hot tub and air-conditioner costs 530 php. Double costs about 700 php. Except us there is no one else in the hotel. The tourism is so-so in here. Wel actually there is no tourism. Locals watch us like some kind of a show. 🙂
That very evening luckily for us we managed to get acquainted with a girl in a small shop, that suggested to become our guide for tomorrow. When we asked how much would it cost us she said that she didn’t need anything and that she was going to close her shop tomorrow and would show everything to us. «Some luck!»we thought. 😯 We agreed on meeting tomorrow morning at 8 am and go to see the waterfalls on a public transport (jeepney). According to her words jeepney is the cheapest transport in here. And if it was not easy for us to pore over the itineraries,then it would be easy to do it with her and we would get to see everything budget – friendly.
Next day she came by car! We were overtaken by with surprise! What is more it was not her car, she managed to take a car of her sister’s husband or somebody else! To boot she bought her girl-friends with her! =^_^=
So it was not clear who came to look at whom. 😀 Looks like a show «european tourist is in town» it’s gonna be fansier than waterfalls for us. 😆
Sightseeings of Iligan
In the first place we went to the main sightseeing of Iligan – Maria Cristina waterfalls. What do i say, the waterfall is just incredible! Downstream there’s a power-plant supplying Iligan with electricity,it’s a sensitive site taking into account terrorist problem the cars entering the territory are checked severely, all the visitors are registered in the journal-book. The entrance is fee-paying but the price is ridiculous (75 php i suppose). A small zoo is located near-by, but there is nothing remarkble in there just ostrich, crocodiles and some kinds of lizards. There’s a small park of butterflies and a garden of orchids. Well that’s a small additional to the the waterfalls.
Having riden the main road our guides proposed to stop for a lunch and came to a small motorway restaurant. A huge roasted whole pig were on a table right by the side of the road! Sakes alive! We came to a Moslem’s lair and they regale us with roasted pig? 😕
While i was taking pictures with my camera, a woman was cutting off a fat piece of a pig with her hatchet and laid it on plates. On the side she served bakes bananas, rice and batata. Our guides began to crunch the roasted pig crust, inviting to join them and telling us how tasty it was. But we couldn’t understand what was the pleasure eating fat roasted pig -skin and lard in 35 degrees heat. But we tasted some out of regard and even said that it was delicious. Well just not to hurt them… :whistling:
The second place of destination of our trip was Tinago waterfalls. The road to the waterfalls was not that well-troden so we had to ride up hill and finally pass into the unsurface road. We left our car and walked. There on the conventional entrance was a box notifying that the entrance was free of charge but anyone could donate any amount of money for the site improvement.
On the way to the waterfalls we overpassed the ruins of abandoned resort thick-set with tropical vegetation. This could become movie set for some movie about a city lost in the jungle.
Tinago – means «hidden» in Filipino. And it completely pays off it’s name – some hundreds of steps lead to it along the overgrown rainforest cleve. This waterfall is not that powerful and high, but very photogenic and manipulating the shutter speed it’s easy to take great pictures. There’s a a pretty large lake with clear water under the waterfall – having swum enough in the lake we made our way back. On the way back i found a marvelous spider in the ruins of the abandoned resort, that was busy devouring it’s prey. Later i even managed to speciate it: Nephila pilipes.
The last waterwalls we visited was Mimbalut Falls. Despite it’s considerable dimentions and vigour it didn’t look that photogenic and no matter how i jumped all over it, taking pictures of it in different camera angles it didn’t work out well. 😐
The afternoon was well along and three waterfalls were more than enough for us (actually there are 23 waterfalls in Iligan) so we decided to move back. On our way back we stopped by to see a local sightseeing – a house where 2 presidents of Philippines lived at different times. Just an ordinary house. Nothing remarkable about it.
The conclusion of our trip was a visit of a district that was annihilated by a typhoon just two months before our trip. The sight was quite dramatic:the entire blocks of tumble-down houses, people had the key of the street and lived in boxes. The propical storm “Washi” battering Mindanao two months before our trip claimed lives of more than our thousand people, hundreds of people are still missing…
Iligan — Cagayan de Oro
Next morning we finally decided to get enough sleep and go to Cagayan de Oro by bus, where we planned a ferry to Bohol island. Buses to Cagayan de Oro go very often – every hour or sometimes even more often. Bus ticket costs 140 php, it takes about two hours to get there.
The road didn’t have anything remarkable save one moment when about halfway the bus stopped and the driver asked all the passangers to leave the bus and tread on a duster soaked in some delution. When we asked why should we do this they said: «desinfected». What kind of desinfection it was it remained an inigma for us. :-]
In Cagayan de Oro we stayed Nature’s Pension hotel. Triple room with air-conditioner, hot tub but without wi-fi costed us about 900 php. Well there was neither wi-fi in the room, nor in the hotel. That was the only disadvantage of this hotel. But on the other hand as the night falls a huge night market opens with different asian lumber and eatables around the corner.
Next morning we planned to go to Superferry, but when we came to the sea terminal we were in for a surprise. As it turned out there was no ferry to Bohol today. But not only today there was no ferry to Bohol at all. As we found out this later this itinerary has just been called off. Now the weirdest thing was that they didn’t even informed us about it – not even by e-mail. Luckily for us we found out that a ferry of another company went to Jagna in an hour so we ran to buy new tickets. In general, despite the fact that we had a narrow squeak, everything went according to the plan! :ninja:
While we were waiting for the ferry we found a poster «wanted». It came out to be that there were serial killers on Philippines and lots of them! 😯 The reward for the most rabid maniac was 10 billions php! :rightful:
Ferry from Cagayan de Oro goes with one stop on Camiguin island and if we had more time we could get off the ferry and live a couple of days there and then go further to Bohol island on the same ferry. Camiguin island has something to see underwater.
Jagna is a small fishermans village. SO small that it fall under the impression that there is only one hotel here. And we saw it as soon as we got off an ex quay. DQ Lodge (double with air conditioner and a bathroom costs — 500 php. An additional bed costs — 100 php). There is Wi-Fi. Conceiving that hardly there will be any choice we decided not to search anymore and checked – in to that hotel.
We decided to go to the beach to snorkle. We wanted to tap into the sea again taking into account that the last three days of our trip were not planned for diving. We went to Can Uba Beach. 4,7 kilometers away from finder dock. Tricycle costed 10-20 php per person.
The beach was beautiful and it was almost empty, beer San Migel in a booth across the road in front of the beach costed — 65 php per 1 litre. An old lady looking after the beach took 50 php for our sitting at the table under the cover. We swam to our heart’s content, saw different star-fish, (finally! =^_^= ) met the sun-set and walked back to the hotel – the road was good. 5 kilometers along that road – was a short distance! 🙂
We decided to wander about the vicinity to find some place to eat. But there was nothing but the local diners in the the so-called “down-town”. Having noticed the pointer «IDEA Pension House and Grand Cafe restaurant» we hardly find it in the dark depth of the vilage blocks. And indeed it was a well european restaurant that was quite unexpected for such a lonely spot. The hotel and the restaurant was founded by the Philipino deaf and mute Assotiation and the prices were higher than in the hotel we stayed. (double costed — 850/950, extra person — 350 php) ideapensionhouse.daodiamond.com.
We had supper (it costed us about 300 php per person including 2 beer) and went to sleep. Next morning we had to decide how to get to Tagbilaran from Jagna, calling on Chocolate hills and tarsier.
We woke up at 7 am, had breakfast in a cheap tavern right under the hotel (piece of beef, rice, rice noodles and coffee – costed about 80 php) and went to look for the transport. When we talked about Chocolate hills tricycle drivers tried to change the subject, saying that it was faraway. So it may be concluded that it is difficult to come to argreement with tricycle drivers when the distance was over 20 kilometers especially i the way back was not supposed. Car-drivers came up very quickly. They asked us where did we want to go. We said: Jagna-Chocolate hills-Tarsiers-Tagbilaran. They said 3500 php. We made faces but didn’t say anything. He said – 3000 php. We shifted from foot to foot and said that it was too expensive. We suggested 2500 php. He made a face and began to distuss it with his companions and finally agreed.
Ayway the price was high but we had no choice so we decided to go. High price was justified a little by the fact that we ride by the minibus. If there were 5-8 people with us the price per person would be quite budget. 🙁
As far as i understood you can reach the Chocolate hills (Villa del Carmen) from Jagna two ways — the shortest way (via Sierra Bulones) and by a good road (via Velencia). We went the shortest way, for we kind of paid not much and the fuel is very expensive. 🙂 The road was really difficult – at some place the serpentinous road turned into unpaved road, there were uneasily descents and ascends. Approximatel in half an hour we reached the Chocolate hills. Well, there’s nothing to describe. Everything you can find in the guide-book. The entrance fee is 50 php per person. It’ rather descent
Another half an hour and we came to tarsiers. Thanks God they were in cages but you can’t say they were in the natural conditions. A lot of hide-outs, paths between them and a lot more is built up on a net enclosed area on a side of a hill. Guides in yellow T-shirts show the coched tarsiers to the inattentive people and keep watching that nobody couldtouch transiers or tried to steal them!
Tavers Pension House Hotel. The advantages – free of charge transfer from/to the airport (although the airport is only 2 kilometers away from the hotel, actually at a walking distance). The disadvantages – WiFi is fee paying (100 php). We decided not to pay for Wifi and had the internet in a chineese restaurant during the dinner. Double with air-conditioner with hot water + the additional bed in the room costed — 1095 php.
Tricycle from Tagbilaran to Alona beach (Panglao) is 15 kilometers – 200 php. And to get back by a taxi costs the same. The entrance fee to the public beach is 35 php. It was Sunday and it was not easy to push through the locals. An attempt to get to the beach of an expensive resort failed miserably — a guard showed us the price for weekdays 350 php and for Sunday 500 php per person. But he sais he was ready to let us in for 350 per person despite it was Sunday. Of course in our thoughts we wished him to go to hell. :whistling:
We went along the opposite side of the beach for about 100 meters leaving the locals behind, threw our things under a tree and had a great swim. We saw an unthinkable number of sea dwellers: sea hedgehogs and sea stars of all kinds, a sea snake and even a small moray eel. If you swim far behind a line of anchored boats you can see a reel reef starting on with beautiful corals, fish and a cliff into the blue abyss.
Next morning we had a flight to Legazpi via Manila. And this flight turned into an another adventure. The flight from Tagbilaran was delayed for an hour causing us to miss our connecting flight Manila-Legazpi. Cebu Pacific Air didn’t have anymore flights to Legazpi that day and we were fevereshly thinking about the variants of further development of events. Finally we were proposed a flight to Nagi, which is located about 100 kilometers away from Legazpi with a chance to get from Nagi to Legaspi under our own power by bus. 😯 We had no choice so we agreed. 🙁
In Nagi we found out that the bus terminal is 15 kilometers away from the airport. Taxi drivers proposed to take us to Donsol for some extremely high price, that we were not ready to pay. So we decided to go on the road and catch anything that goes to Legazpi’s direction. And then fortune smiled upon us and in five minutes we saw the oncoming bus with a sign «Legazpi». We boared the bus happily and managed to get to ill-fated Legazpi and we had to get to Donsol from there.
Having got off a little bit earlier the final stop in Daraga by the skin of a teeth we managed to find a jeepney to Donsol that drive us by a charter having taken 200 php per person. It was 30 km to get to Donsol and in 40 minutes tired of a crazy day we finally got to the place of destination. :-]
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!
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…