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What We Do When We're Bored

When the weather's rubbish and you've got no customers, why not spend your time building your very own artificial reef!

overcast 29 °C

The recipe? One solid-concrete mold of half a cannon, add some available soft corals, giant clams and throw in some schooling fish and VOILA! Instant artificial reef available today at Vasco's Dive Centre, Subic Bay.

Last night was the official farewell for Vasco's regular Mark Vickers and his lovely partner Shirley who after 5 long years in Subic have made the brave decision to return to the UK. On behalf of the whole crew, I wanted to say goodbye and good luck Mark! My gift to you is this quick video below. Forgive me, it has taken 3 months in Subic to discover I am actually capable of producing my own home movies (even longer to work out how to pack my 'Pack 'N Go' raincoat into it's pocket) and this first attempt may be a bit rough but at least you will get to see what I was up to on the day I told you I was interior decorating 6m below sea level.

What We Do When We're Bored

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 20:07 Archived in Philippines Tagged fish rainforest beer ocean beach adventure philippines life safari rainbow puerto tropical marine manila hard soft you reef coral cocktails cannon all hands luzon galera treetop anilao corals flatworm zoobic jest artifical 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)

This is meant to be a roadtrip.. All we're doing is driving!

Part One

sunny 34 °C

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Party of Six: Matt, Gregg, Karen, Tanya, Me and Ryan

Well we fell at the first hurdle of our road trip, surviving the epic 6 hour bus drive over potholes, invisible speed humps and dodging the occasional road chicken, we emerged in Baler about 2 inches shorter, and decided we weren't going any further. Totally worth it! We'd arrived in paradise and it was freakin' beautiful. large_IMG_0632.jpglarge_185.jpg

Baler, Aurora; our base for the week was also the location for parts of the film Apocalypse Now (it makes Vietnam look good).100_2296.jpg100_2298.jpg100_2297.jpg103.jpg

Remember that Charlie don't surf? Well, apparently now he does.
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Ryan's Birthday!
The beach out the front of our beautiful hotel was like glass; perfect for swimming, tanning, long romantics walks and whatever else you put in your online dating profile... but not so great for surfing. So we ventured half an hour down the road and dragged out the mals, which are kind of like paddling a boat. It was Matt, Tanya and Ryan's first time learning to surf and they smashed it!
Here he is in fine form, catching his first wave ever... 309.jpg
and here he is in even finer form... 100_2303.jpg
I mean, you're on holidays, so why not celebrate turning 29 by getting naked and chasing Matt down the hallway?
Happy birthday Ryan :)
The next day, a few Coronas convinced him he was able to defy the laws of physics and this beer bottle remained in the corner of our balcony for the entire week.

This particular day, we conveniently forgot to apply sunscreen before heading into the water. Big mistake! We were all feeling slightly crispy and medium to well-done and so recovered with the biggest, fattest lunch in a little road side restaurant featuring some mystery ingredients we would prefer never to disclose. remarkably_sunburnt.jpg
I have to admit if I had started this whole Asian Invasion being picky and sifting through my meals, I would have starved. Always better to the just close your eyes and enjoy.

Here is just a sample of how well we ate on the beach in Baler. 100_2363.jpg
100_2369.jpg Here is me enjoying a Rocky Road Frost; like drinking easter eggs. Something that good shouldn't be legal! We even ate chocolate fondue. 099.jpg Rosa cooked me breakfast in bed every morning; Filipino Beef Tapa + columbian coffee = spoiled rotten!!

Bahia de Baler:
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The 'unique' restaurant beach shack with the live band, surrounded by hundreds of coconut palms but runs out of coconut shakes, and plays highly questionable music throughout dinner...
Weird Al Yankovic: You Don't Love Me Anymore

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We only wanted to enjoy a beer and a cocktail on the balcony until Mr 'Unleash the Animal' decided to pick a fight with the poor waiter on his break. We didn't manage to translate much but I think his actions speak louder than words....

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Like a bunch of 5-year olds we required plenty of time out for naps to prevent tantrums.
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Baler Beach:
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And I'm ready to go swimming!

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Gregg having a rinse off after a heavy surf session
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This is Chris; a mate of Karen's AND a pro surfer, who, when he wasn't playing tour guide or surfing instructor for Charlie Does, had but one intention; to make the rest of us look bad. It only became a problem on the last day when Gregg tried to upstage him, stacked and heard an almighty CRACK! coming from his foot. 100_2432.jpg This was the end of Gregg's surfing holiday.

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Local fishing village in the center of town

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This is actually NOT the scariest toilet I've seen in Asia...

Driving Around Aurora:
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The view from atop a weather station; the million dollar view which nearly cost us our sanity trying to get up the ridiculously steep one-way road.
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Quality main roads around Baler.

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We love Baler locals.... 100_2314.jpg...Yes we do!!!

Drifting away into a paradise sunset.
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This says "Having fun... thrilled you're not here."

Check out tomorrow's blog for our trip to a waterfall and the conclusion to our Baler road trip!

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Posted by VascoDiveMaster 20:10 Archived in Philippines Tagged waterfalls sunsets_and_sunrises beaches people parties trees rainforest beer sunset restaurant beach surf jungle breakfast pink philippines summer sun surfing cuisine sunglasses paradise national bay tropical tour scuba underwater real coconut photography scuba_diving turtle treasure subic sunburn apocalypse now swell surfboard sunbathe theme_park baler Comments (1)

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)

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