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Sailing Around Subic

semi-overcast 32 °C

I have spent the most incredible final day in Subic that I could have imagined. It was Gregg's birthday weekend extravaganza which culminated in an all-day cruise around Subic Bay in Marty's beautiful yacht the 'Dona Maria.'

The initial plan was to take the yacht to Silanguin, just outside the bay but the swell around Grande Island was incredible and we turned back when poor Bee started to puke over the bow. Marty and Kate were late getting to the Yacht Club but it didn't stop us diving into cheese and biscuits before we'd even left the dock. Gregg was impatient to get out to Silanguin Island but I could have been just as happy sitting there at the Yacht Club with the sun blasting down, cold beer in the esky and smiles on everyone's faces. 100_2502.jpg 100_2516.jpg

The change of plans took us yonder, to Camayan Beach next door to Ocean Adventure theme park.... Sort of a round about way to spend the day at Camayan since it would have taken 7 minutes in a car :)
We commandeered a buoy belonging to Ocean Adventure and rode the dingy to shore to spend the day swimming, surfing and eating copious amounts of barbecued seafood!

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There was one spectator up in the trees who tried more than once to join our lunch feast, and when he realised he wasn't invited, tried to steal it!

Escaping the beach for the shelter of our SS Dreamboat was timed absolutely perfectly, with the first spots of rain appearing as we stepped foot on deck. By the time we were loaded up and chugging back to real life it had escalated into a fully-fledged tropical storm. Exhausted by this point, Karen and I collapsed in the lounge room and promptly fell asleep.

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I was returned safely right to Vascos front door while the others went on back to the Yacht Club. A painful opportunity to say goodbye to some of the great friends I've made during the past four months.
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One last dodgy photo of my dream boat as it sailed away into the storm. When I grow up I want to have a boat like that! ;)

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 17:24 Archived in Philippines Tagged club philippines sailing bay yacht subic Comments (2)

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!

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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)

Mystery Fish Success!

sunny 35 °C

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We have had remarkable success in deducing the species of our resident mystery fish!

Originally spotted in this video:

....It wasn't until we pulled apart the fish identification journal that we discovered it is a juvenile sweetlips! How a baby fish that is so delicate and beautiful can grow into something so bland and unimaginative I will never understand but that is what the fish bible says so that is what it must be!

Of course, I have had an ear infection for the past few days. Lucky me! So diving is absolutely out... Pfft! I thought I could get a sneaky one in yesterday in just 5m of water which has only succeeded in aggravating the problem further. As it is with my luck, the weather today has been some of the most magnificent I have seen since arriving in the Philippines, not only is the sky blue but the ocean is the most irridescent hue of emerald green I have ever seen in my life. To make matters worse, I can stand out the front of the dive shop, and look straight down at the bottom of the ocean, and follow the sunken barges to the hideout of our little local; the baby Sweetlips. Today he teased me and my debilitating short-comings from 6m below the surface as he danced around with his friend the excessively-large trigger fish who also calls Vasco's his home.

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 18:00 Archived in Philippines Tagged trees diving beach sweet philippines paradise scuba manila dive coconut wreck luzon zambales anilao puerto_galera lips Comments (1)

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)

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