A Travellerspoint blog

Fresh Meat

sunny 32 °C

So Vasco’s has now inherited Mark; the awesome Aussie guy who’s following in my footsteps to become a dive master. He’s going to finish off his Rescue Diver course later today after a quick practice run yesterday, diving the Barges along the airport runway. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d forgotten something…. There was such an amazing cloud of suspended sediment on the surface that we couldn’t even see our fins, but once we descended it was almost perfectly clear, and everything on the ocean floor had the strangest hue of green.
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As I was responsible for purchasing Vasco’s new underwater camera whilst in Kota Kinabalu; a brand spanking Canon S95 sex bomb, I figured it only right that I should take it out on it’s maiden voyage and oh man, it is a-may-ZING!!!
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Of course, the camera can only do so much when it’s operator doesn’t have a clue. I’m sure after a bit more practice they will get better and better :)

I ascended and pretty much lost both Jayson and Mark amidst this thick cloud that appeared at 5m and engulfed everything, leaving nothing but a bright white void. Almost how I imagine dying to be, until the immediate thermal change shocked me from a toasty 29 degrees down to 24 in a matter of a meter of so.
-Not such a comfortable experience when you’ve forgotten your dive computer!

Our afternoon consisted of maintenance work, thanks to the delightful typhoon still erupting outside my window. We dived off Vasco’s jetty and set to work repairing the mooring ropes that had been torn away in the wind…. Well, that’s what we were supposed to be doing. I found this adorable little fish dancing around the shallows, lost the boys completely and took off after it with my camera. By the time I surfaced, they’d already got out, cleaned the gear and had a shower… oops.

If anyone can help me identify this little guy I'd really appreciate it!

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 16:57 Archived in Philippines Tagged waterfalls diving philippines camera paradise tropical scuba manila underwater photography typhoon mystery turtle thunder treasure luzon zambales subic torrential mindoro dive_centre olongapo unidentified puerto_galera Comments (4)

The rain keeps on keeping on.....

snow 31 °C

The rain is falling in an impossibly consistent torrent. I’m worried that if I set foot outside I might drown. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it, it just KEEPS coming! Damn typhoon. There's nothing to do except sit in the bar and drink.... life could be worse I suppose?

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We have ditched the dive boat this morning in search of an ellusive surf break just at the mouth of Subic Bay. We have a party of 3, four surfboards, a new underwater camera, diving boots and a pink floatie ring. Evidence of our awesomeness to be updated soon......

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 06:19 Archived in Philippines Tagged turtles boat diving beach surf summer sun surfing bay tropical scuba centre dive wreck break turtle zambales subic subic_bay dive_centre surfboard zambapalooza Comments (2)

Well look who finally came home!

storm 28 °C

The drive from the airport felt like I’d been away for years. Having a beer at the bar last night felt like I’d never left at all. I’m more or less part of the furniture now at Vasco’s.

It’s been more or less 6 weeks; I’ve visited another 5 countries, climbed the highest mountain in South East Asia, eaten WAY to much good food, spent a ridiculous amount of money, had my passport checked 21 times and dived the Celebes Sea; allegedly one of the top 10 diving destinations in the world. Unfortunately not Sipadan, because in my usual style, I showed up without having booked ahead. I got a couple of dives on Mabul and Kapulai islands which are pretty much next door. I found out too late that apparently all it takes is an offer to do it naked and you are automatically on the next boat to Sipadan.

The visibility left a lot to be desired.
The hoards of backpackers, diving hippies and blokes too old to still be sleeping in a hostel, were overwhelming.

Our dive master started frothing when he suggested we “just MIGHT see a ghost pipe fish!” and I thought “Pfft! See ‘em everyday hanging off the L.C.U.” Sure enough, he surfaces elated to see a specimen that’s ‘Top 5 in the world!’

Between to Borneo-based diving websites, Lonely Planet and every other tourist travel brochure printed in the country, the corals of the Celebes Sea are described with the same uniformly irritating slogan, ‘technicolour!’ To be honest, yes the technicolour corals were just that, and I still associate this with the ancient, dull-coloured Disney cartoons from the Saturday mornings of my childhood. Back in the days when we still had a concave screen and we still had to get up to change channels. Disappointingly, there were no digital, plasma, or LED corals in sight…. And not a wreck in sight.

So what’s Subic Bay got to show for itself up against the best in the world?

Ornate ghost pipefish? Check!
Schools of glittering jacks? Check!
Resident green sea turtles? Check!
Shy but elegant blue-painted lobsters? Check!
Super awesome dive master? Check!
Warm ocean temps? Check!
‘Hi-def’ hard and soft corals? Check!
Blue-ribbon eels, pharaoh cuttlefish, barracudas, banded pipefish, giant groupers? Check!
Ocean full of plastic garbage courtesy of island-based local community? Hmmm, surprisingly lacking!
Green Sea Turtle on Nat's Reef

Green Sea Turtle on Nat's Reef

When I was asked “Why aren’t you doing your dive master here, it’s cheaper than anywhere else!?” I thought to myself, well, actually it’s about the same price! But while money will always be a deciding factor to a long-term backpacker, the fact that you are undertaking a job that makes you responsible for other people’s lives makes me think the quality of the training I receive seem a little more relevant.

So does Borneo deserve to be in the Top 10 diving in the world? Well sure, I’d rate it, purely for the reason that I saw a turtle to size of a VW Beetle. But if part of that includes a sweaty 2” foam mattress in a 12-bed dorm room, and a single toilet shared between fifty, I’d rather be holed up in my own little pirate ship, the SS Dog House, where the beer is cheap, the sun is shining (except for today because there’s a typhoon) the people are beautiful and I can spend my days fluffing around naming reefs after myself. Arrrrrrrrrgh!

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 12:27 Archived in Philippines Tagged waterfalls sunsets_and_sunrises diving beach surf storm surfing sunglasses dive scuba_diving typhoon whale turtle thunder subic sunburn torrential lionfish cyclone vascos dive_master subic_dive_centre dive_centre p= Comments (4)

Final Day

:(

sunny 31 °C
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Have thrown a tantrum and am hiding in my room with a headache because I havn't had my obligatory cup of coffee yet and trying to finish a really good book, ignoring the fact that I really need to pack my stuff. My room looks like a chinese laundry of dirty washing, an accumulation of unnecessary but inseparable books, sand, shells I scrounged out of the ocean, and a rats nest of tangled camera cords, ipod cables and assorted battery chargers. My flight to Bangkok doesn't leave until 9.45pm so I don't have to leave Vasco's until about 7, which is simply a torturous delay of the inevitable and not even chocolate can make me happy right now.

Of course, I picked the perfect day to leave, having just discovered an amazing new reef yesterday that still remains almost completely unexplored. Our two new divers just beginning their open water course joined us for the big unveiling which they were very excited about. Since we have somewhat settled the contentious issue of n@'s Reef, Gregg happily conceded to naming our newest find "Gi's Reef," which made the gorgeous girlfriend in question more than satisfied. So I guess any new divers with Vasco's have to opportunity (with a bit of prompting, whining and/or bribery) to have a new reef named after them.

Gi's Reef lies right on the mouth of the bay with a gentle swell rolling in that gives it a gentle surge beneath the surface, which nullifies the need for any use of your fins, and long flat canyons of glittering coral highlighted by an unprecedented FIFTEEN meters of visibility. There was at least 12 nudibranch that I counted up yesterday (still my favourites) and a similar number today. I dived in yesterday and landed on top of a cave harboring a giant blue-painted lobster with tentacles hanging out of the cave by at least a meter.
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Of course, my ever prepared-ness which over the past two months has extended to forgetting weights, boots, computer and fins, unfortunately also includes forgetting to charge to battery for the camera, so you will have to wait for photos of Gi's reef for when until I return, provided I am not kidnapped and held ransom during the next 6 weeks... Unless of course Vasco's dive crew has moved on to some bigger and better discovery :)

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 14:10 Archived in Philippines Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches birds boats diving philippines world bay tour scuba dive war wreck two wwii subic apocalypse end_of_the_world vascos dive_master subic_dive_centre uss_new_york 2012 Comments (1)

Hong Kong Disneyland!!!!

Fulfilling all my childhood fantasies in one weekend...

sunny 31 °C
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I awoke at 4am in fear of having wet the bed, but realised the rain had made the roof leak (blush). Our flight was relatively uneventful 100_1173.jpg until we arrived in Hong Kong International Airport to begin our weekend food safari with a culinary indulgence at Burger King.100_1176.jpg

The Wax Museum:
100_1183.jpg After stuffing one-too many people inside an excessively small taxi, we took a = vertical train up to 'The Peak' where we had some fun with the wax figures....
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Disneyland:
It changed my life! All I wanted was a photo with Mickey and after 6 hours of ice-cream and fairy floss, way too much sugar and riding the Space Mountain roller coaster until I was sick, I got a big hug from Mickey and a kiss from Minnie :) 100_1296.jpg
Got chased by a mobile rubbish bin singing the YMCA100_1237.jpg
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The City:
Hong Kong has some of the most amazing modern architecture I have seen in my travels but their fascades are still attended to by ancient bamboo scaffolding!
100_1356.jpg100_1407.jpgThere is a really great mixture of old and new in Hong Kong that just seems to work.

The Hostel:
Finally made it to the alleged address of my hostel at about 11.30pm, absolutely shattered after 8 hours of Disneyland. It was in an ethnic ghetto full of old men loitering in the shadows, staring at the little white chick that smelled of gum leaves. 100_1352.jpgThe lobby full of Indian stalls selling fake dvd's, electronics and phone cards. I met one really friendly guy who was happy to call the hostel to find out if it in fact existed. I was given directions to 'C-Block, Level 15.' Yes, it my hostel was in prison block C. There were bullet holes in the stairwell 100_1350.jpgand my room was smaller than a prison cell. 100_1348.jpg Took my shower standing over the toilet and pushed my sandals under the door frame so I wouldn't become the victim of a 'Psycho'-inspired shower scene. Sheets were very clean but pulled the pillow case off to find my pillow covered in blood spatters. So grateful not to be raped in my sleep or awoken to the sensation of having my organs harvested. Hong Kong Hostel Horror

Ocean Park:
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100_1372.jpg Meeting Lazy Gator
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Deadly roller coaster which reached out over the South China Sea
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Resident sleeping panda at Ocean Adventure
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Panda Poo... That's enough.

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 15:56 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged disney hong kong disneyland ocean_park theme_park Comments (3)

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