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The Value of Getting Certified

"A mind that has been stretched will never return to it's original dimension." (Albert Einstein)

sunny 35 °C

I've had the pleasure of being introduced to a brand new batch of school teachers here in Subic, who've all told me how keen they are to start their Open Water while they're here. Woohoo! More friends for me :) It makes my job a whole lot easier since it's not hard to convince someone to come on in when they're already dead set on getting certified. The problem lies with that small minority of what I like to call 'dive snobs.' The type that thinks snorkelers are a waste of boat space, or that tec divers are nothing but waterproof nerds.

It's a strange, passive-aggressive attitude, which begs to question their insecurity but after chatting to a guy not long back, I found out the cause:
He wasn’t certified.

I know, that’s heresy to some and applauded by others, but to me, that’s like driving without a license for 25 years. He was certainly a 'diver,' but the bluff and bravado that came with that was simple overcompensation. And it certainly didn’t change the fact that he wasn’t certified.

So, with that said, here’s the lowdown on tips you can use to convert the odd dive snob you may encounter, to the ranks of officially certified divers:

  • You won’t have to justify why you should be treated any different than all the other newbie Discover Scuba Divers.
  • Divemasters no longer try to hold your hand (literally) underwater.
  • You can explore the underwater world with your dive buddy at your convenience; all responsible, like a big kid!
  • Achieving an open water diver certification is something you can be proud of and a priceless holiday memory.
  • You’ll meet other divers and find out about dive destinations – where only certified divers can go.
  • It’s great conversation starter.
  • You become part of an international adventure club.
  • My personal favourite; divers go down longer and come up wetter!

I am unsure whether my particular dive snob ever continued on the do his dive certification. If not, I just can’t help but think that he’s limiting himself and what he can do. Anyone who dives will say you never look at the world the same way after your first breath underwater. But, imagine how different you look at the world when you take your first breath underwater as a certified diver. It’s like taking the training wheels off and an accomplishment you can never forget.

Contacting a Scuba Diving International affiliated dive centre... like Vascos ;-) could be the first step in a lifelong journey, as it has been for me. Even if you are only interested in the occasional dive, or have a gap of years between dives, most centres, regardless of institution will offer a form of diving refresher course to get you back in the game. Here is our Vascos Refresher Course:

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Feeling refreshed?

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 17:39 Archived in Philippines Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches birds boats diving beach philippines bay america tour scuba dive wreck subic vascos dive_master subic_dive_centre Comments (1)

Roadtrippin' Part 2

Ditumabo Falls

sunny 35 °C

The journey to Ditumabo Waterfalls, the highlight of our road trip, was an amazing experience in itself and the reward was more than worth the journey. I tell our tale through pictures......

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To reach waterfall base camp takes less than twenty minute drive from downtown Baler. Well that is, if you're not held up by a standard Baler road block....
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From this point, our party of intrepid travellers made a magnificent thirty minute trek into lush rainforest, scaling the pipework of a mini hydro-electric plant, clambering over slippery rocks and structurally-questionable bamboo bridges.

Or you can cheat and just walk through the river!

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The mini 'pre-waterfall' waterfall

What we saw when we arrived is what I'd like the call the REAL Philippines; the kind of scenery that belongs on the cover of a travel brochure.
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These photos just don't do it justice due to the amount of spray in the air but it was so beautiful and SO COLD!!!

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We clearly weren't bothered.

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Of course, it wouldn't be Asia without the occasional oddity to keep things exciting.

So after reaching our peak at the waterfalls and having way too much excitement, one too many injuries sustained through stupidity and a little too much sun and good food, we threw in the towel and decided to head home :(
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These were my new little friends that I met on the way to the ATM, before sadly departing back to the real world.

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Of course we couldn't say goodbye without picking up the obligatory souvenirs that we didn't need but can't live without

So exhausted we nearly didn't make it home after colliding with a giant penis carving 1395.jpg100_2448.jpg
a goat with testicles bigger than it's head and two or three road cones. Don't worry, only one cone was mortally wounded. But now we're all going to need a holiday to get over our holiday!

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Aahhh home at last!

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 15:44 Archived in Philippines Tagged waterfalls mountains lakes bridges churches people children animals sky planes beer boat sunset diving ocean beach surf cambodia jungle driving white museum island breakfast philippines sand summer surfing cuisine sunglasses camera national bay america resort big tour scuba manila dive underwater asia coconut scuba_diving wreck computer break sihanoukville pottery discovery luzon zambales subic sunburn now south_east_asia clams swell mindoro dive_master dive_centre uss_new_york surfboard barretto olongapo sunbathe zambapalooza puerto_galera wreck_diving baler Comments (4)

To Much Excitement

semi-overcast 34 °C

We have a positive outcome from meetings between all the local dive shops and SBMA, thats Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. Following some tragic recent events on the USS New York, SBMA banned diving on any and all wrecks in the bay for a week while they deliberated changes to diving permits etc. So we have been left a little stir crazy and I had begun to form a salty crust around the edges. But finally!!! We have received the good news that not only will they reinstate diving permits for our favourite wreck diving sites, they will FINALLY allow diving on the Japanese WW2 ships; Oryuko Maru and Sein Maru! This would be the only two wreck dives in the whole of Subic Bay, situated at recreational depth that I havn't dived yet! It's about time they stepped up and realised to significance of the diving here in Subic. Thanks to the USS New York, Subic Bay is still the only place in the world where you can dive a World War I battle ship. Here here!

On a more exciting note, yesterday I had a delightful girls day with Yellow and Kiyo at 'The Ritz' spa in town. We had swedish massages and lunch. Pure relaxation and gossip ;-) 100_2240.jpg Closely followed by a big barbecue dinner on Gregg's balcony with the whole family and many friends and beers. What more can you ask for?

On an even MORE exciting note, Ryan finally arrived yesterday. Very considerately flying into Manila at 6am so I had to get up at 3.30 but I forgive him because of the present he bought me.... a brand new PINK dive computer!!!!
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Here's me; the spoiled brat haha

On an even MORE exciting note, Gregg, his sister Tanya, Aussie mate Matt, lady-friend Karen, me and Ryan are embarking on a week to 10 day long road trip tomorrow, ending up in the northern most point of Luzon province in search of some awesome surf breaks! I can't wait to get some photos up, after googling some of our destinations, I am just that little bit too excited to sleep. But for now, I am off to take my pretty pink computer, and my special man out for their maiden dive adventure.... Woo hoo!!!!

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 12:50 Archived in Philippines Tagged beer diving beach pink philippines surfing america road scuba trip dive computer free roadtrip bbc clams vascos barretto Comments (2)

Got my first hater!

sunny 32 °C

To be honest, I never felt like I was doing my job here properly until I started getting comments and new subscribers. But now, I can take it up a notch because I've got my very own hater!
It's supposed to only be celebs who get haters but now at least I know I'm doing my job and my blogs and videos are getting around! Notorious3 says in not so many choice words that he hopes I drown. As much as I hate to disappoint my fans, I must confess that I could swim before I could walk!

So this is for Mr Notorious3:
I am assuming you are of course a bloke? I spent yesterday violently sea sick and blowing chunks out my nose, I spend most days diving in one of the most beautiful and unique locations in the world, I have managed to tour almost all of Asia this year with next to no cash, I have climbed epic mountains, seen endangered wildlife, met some amazing people and my fair share of crazies. I have dodged dysentery, malaria and the odd car accident. I haven't seen winter in three years. I have met a fantastic guy who is flying half way across the planet to come see me in less than a week and two amazing parents who have just done the same. I eat restaurant food every day and consider myself damn lucky for all of the above. .... What have you done lately?

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 11:52 Archived in Philippines Tagged mountains beaches diving cambodia sun camera paradise america manila disney dive asia war disneyland turtle american luzon south_east_asia mindoro vascos dive_master subic_dive_centre dive_centre uss_new_york diver ocean_park zambapalooza Comments (7)

Subic Summer

semi-overcast 33 °C
View Dive Master Lifetime Adventure on VascoDiveMaster's travel map.

I am still in a state of shock after finding out about the death of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan after almost 10 years. While it must be a relief and a sense of comfort to those families who tragically lost loved ones as a result of his terrorism plots, what a dreadful shame that we still see images of people celebrating this out on the streets; drinking and partying like it's new year. Congratulations you are a credit to instilling a sense of revenge and hatred in our next generation. Hate breeds hate.

Have vented my frustration with the BBC's glorification of Bin Laden's demise by smashing out my rescue diver scenarios this morning; including mastering rescuing Jayson, who played the unconscious diver inside the salvaged FedEx aeroplane and then threw in a little drama as the 'distressed' diver, focusing on calming the person before swimming below them, coming up from behind to grab their first stage, their inflator and dragging them back to the boat/shore. Between the physical exertion of dragging someone from the bottom of the ocean and today's 35 degree heat plus humidity which has hit my like a brick to the face, I am stuffed.

On the plus, I am slowly revving up the paces to becoming a dive master. The first lesson this afternoon was in filling tanks, which requires checking about four switches, two valves and three different gauges to make sure nothing explodes... no pressure right?
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Today we picked up two divers who are diving with Vasco's for the entire week! They are staying in Sheaven's hotel;THE most beautiful hotel over the bay in Barretto, owned by Brian's ex-wife, also Gregg's mother. Vasco's regularly takes the speed boat out, or the beautiful bunker and picks up divers from their resorts all over Subic, diving equipment in tow, which saves them a lot of travel time. Mark, one of today's divers noted that it was a big advantage for Vasco's to do hotel pickups which is a service not offered by other dive centres in Subic.
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I got to experience a brand new wreck today; in my opinion the Japanese Patrol Boat is the best I have seen so far! Comparing it to the L.C.U. wreck which sits on a dramatic almost 50 degree angle to the sea floor, which we dived again today, the Patrol Boat sits perfectly flat in 24 m of water. It could almost be mistaken for a garden, being absolutely overloaded with hard and soft coral, flooded with tropical fish (my favourites including moorish idols) with some fabulous swim-through's. Out on the L.S.T. again, I was really looking forward to the couple seeing the beautiful spotted eagle ray who is a resident of this awesome wreck dive. Unfortunately he was nowhere to be seen. I assume he has a Wednesday book club commitment or some such engagement.

One BIG thing I have learned from today's divers is to be aware of your fins. The coral here is so delicate that the slightest knock can damage it. Fins are an essential part of the diving get-up but divers are seldom reminded to watch where they end up. So this is me having a whinge- BE AWARE!

When it is as hot is it has been these last few days, forget the fan, forget air con, forget beer or iced water. There are few things that will satiate the heat quite like a good swim in the ocean. Out the front of Vasco's, the water is, in fact in ALL of Subic Bay, the water is so ridiculously clean sometimes I forget it is actually a shipping port! What you wouldn't believe is that there is also an abundance of beautiful coral here to rival some of the best dive spots in the world. When I am doing laps and watching the steam rise off the water I am counting my good fortunes on my fingers and toes.

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Posted by VascoDiveMaster 12:31 Archived in Philippines Tagged beaches diving terrorism philippines paradise america resort pakistan wreck cnn bin bbc dive_master osama laden Comments (0)

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