Island hopping in El Nido, wreck-diving in Coron & visit to Taal Lake
The center of El Nido wasn’t that big at all and was mainly occupied by tourist vendors and travel agencies offering island hopping tours and also dive shops. Main reason for me was the diving since there was some really diving to be done in the area. But more on that later. First up was the island hopping tour.There are 4 different pre-packaged routes that all the agencies offer. Depending on what you want to see, you can select a tour that visits the major sights or one that visits the hidden lagoons. But be sure to check out the Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon. Since I’m alone, I got put on a boat with other people of course and there was this cute Filipino couple there as well. As we were waiting for the boat crew, the guy started talking to me by greeting me with “Hello sir, how are you?”. At first I was taken back by the polite way he was greeting me since I don’t think I’ve ever greeted someone with “sir” before. But the Filipino people are kinda known or better yet TAUGHT to greet people with sir and ma’am. For the reminder of the trip he kept addressing me with sir too. Anyway, the island hopping tour was pretty chill and fun. I think I picked tour A that went to the popular ones, it took the whole day and there’s lunch included. You can also go snorkeling at some spots and kayak. I only went for the snorkeling itself though. It is a bit touristic, but the scenery was amazing though. The lagoons, islands and even the view from the boat was stunning. Earlier I mentioned that El Nido has some excellent diving as well. The first days I walked around asking for prices and finally settled on a 3 dive package deal. So the next day we sail out for our first dive, it was a rather easy site, no current, lovely corals and wildlife as well. After the first dive we sat around the site a bit and just as we were about to sail out, our boat gets stuck on something on the side and flipped the whole boat upside down with us in it! I was used to a boat swinging from side to side, so at first I didn’t think much of it, but once I saw that one side went up too much for my own liking I tried to re-enact what I remembered from watching the Titanic. I tried to walk over to the other side since I was sitting on the side that was being pulled down. You do have to remember that there were oxygen tanks on the side of the boat, so as the boat started to capsize, some of these tanks were falling down on us. As I just made it to the other side of, I saw a few of these tanks about to slide down, so I quickly grabbed one of the tanks and guided it past my head. It did hit me a bit in the end but not enough to knock me out or anything. Anyways, everyone made it out alive and just looked shocked at eachother, not really believing what just happened. Most of the equipment was still lodged under the boat and some of our lunch was floating around as well. My small camera and wallet was under the boat as well and pretty much ruined. Luckily a nearby boat saw us and came to the rescue and picked us up and dropped us off at a nearby beach while we wait for the diveshop to send another boat. We had to swim out to reach the other boat and some of us got hammered by the sharp corals. It was quite an experience, I’m glad I made out alive, but was just too bad that I didn’t get to do more diving in the area though since I was leaving the next day to Coron.
Because of a typhoon, my boat from El Nido to Coron was delayed a day and even the next day, the waves were quite choppy so the boat ride itself was quite bumpy. That’s when I started to fear the ocean more than flying. The reason why people go to Coron is almost solely for diving. There are a few other attractions in the area but most people come here to dive around the japanese shipwrecks on the floor of Coron Bay.Because of my delayed arrival and my upcoming flight to Manila, I only had 1 day to dive the wrecks. People that went diving can not go flying within 24 hours after the dive. Something to do with the different in pressure I think. My flight was in the afternoon, which made it possible for me to squeeze in 2 wreck dives. The dives themselves were pretty challenging actually, first of all they are usually at deeper depths than an open water license allowed you to go. And second, when you go inside the wrecks, you need to have great buoyancy control to manoeuver around the place. While descending at the first wreck I got caught off guard by the strong current and the buoyancy control. But at the second wreck I got the hold of the control by watching my dive master so I actually enjoyed the second one more eventhough they said the first site was better. Since I was part of 3 dive tour, I just went snorkeling at the 3rd dive site, interesting thought since the top of the wreck was only half a meter below water, so I didn’t really need to dive to see the wreck! Lucky!
My last visit in Manila was quite a hectic one since I only stayed for 1 day and didn’t put any effort in seeing things in and around Manila itself. This time I looked up Mimi, who I met down in Davao. I told her I wanted to check out Taal Lake and she asked if she could tag along since she hasn’t seen it either.The only reason why I wanted to go was because it’s a (crater) lake on an island (Volcano Island) in a lake (Taal Lake) on an island (Luzon)! Other than that, there was no real reason for me or attraction worth visiting in the area. Another thing in my to-do list was to watch a basketball game in The Philippines. Basketball is pretty huge here, so I definately wanted to catch a pro game here. I asked Mimi to join me since she actually got us free tickets. Well not really free since someone gave it to her as a birthday gift. But we both agreed that I paid it with my friendship, our mutual currency. After a few days in Manila I had to say goodbye to The Philippines, another country that captured my heart. It has so much to offer and the people and culture is just so lively. People are so giving and compassionate with eachother eventhough it’s considered to be a 3rd world country by some. Definately see myself coming back for more when I have more time and luxury to enjoy the country and it’s many beauties.