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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)

Cheese Burger in Paradise

sunny 32 °C

I like seeing people working hard... Mark and Jayson got stuck sorting a least half a container load of masks, snorkels and fins, some of which Gregg is donating to deserving kids, the others will now be included in any discover scuba and open water divers courses!100_2266.jpg
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This box, like three others is filled entirely with snorkels. Slight overkill.
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Here is the boss, supervising operations...

Plenty of construction and interior decoration taking place at Vascos recently. Lolo is slaving over the timber varnish for Brian's latest venture; The Treasure Trove. 100_2270.jpg100_2269.jpg
Soon to be a very unique gift shop next to the restaurant where Brian's going to start selling a couple of his particularly special blue-glazed chinese antiques.
I like seeing people working hard.

Felt a bit down today actually. I can compare my life almost singularly to one Simple Plan song. Tragic.

....On second thoughts, Jimmy Buffet's 'Cheesburger in Paradise' might also do it.
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[Heading out today on our epic surfing road trip. So excited! Details when I return in 7-10 days :)]

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 23:19 Archived in Philippines Tagged boats surf market shopping storm philippines summer sun surfing paradise resort scuba marine manila underwater scuba_diving souvenirs luzon south_east_asia swell subic_dive_centre uss_new_york surfboard wreck_diving baler Comments (0)

Diving and Marketeering

The L.C.U. of Triboa Bay

sunny 36 °C
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Learning to clean a reg has it's advantages; not just to the owners of a dive shop who can then employ you as a slave, but breathing through a freshly scrubbed reg is more like breathing silk. It makes diving feel like a completely new experience!

I may have already done this dive close to six or seven times but the L.C.U. still leaves me feeling inside out and back to front.

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The 'Landing Craft Utility' lies on the sea bed of Triboa Bay on a queer angle of about 50 degrees. If you forget yourself whilst swimming across the deck, you may find yourself grazing a rust covered wall that came out of nowhere and disappearing into thick orange cloud which leaves you sideways with bubbles dragging up your mask.

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It is absolutely alive with marine life, and upon entering the boiler room you become surrounded by tiny, curious tropical fish who don't seem to mind if you reach out and give them a stroke. A tiny pipe fish made his way along the ships hull and the obligatory lion fish got a big agro and flared up at me...
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We ascended up the line to a family of fifteen or so baby squid in a streamline and glittering formation.
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The visibility is always unreal.
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This afternoon I went shopping with Rose to the Olongapo local market. From what I assumed would be a giant food market I found so much more. A treasure trove of souvenirs, mountains of colourful clothes and tourist t-shirts, bags upon bags of rice, amazing fresh banana fritters, thousands of pirate blu-ray DVDs (don't ask me about their quality!), garlands of jasmine flowers, piles of fresh and exotic fruit and an intoxicatingly pink store dedicated to Hello Kitty.

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You can even have a handbag made out of a cane toad if it tickles your fancy.
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I was most surprised by the local's attitude to my camera. I expected the familiar refusal or the Thai choral "One dollar!" and instead found the shiny, happy people leaping in front of my lens for a single opportunity to be caught on film.
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Posted by VascoDiveMaster 12:56 Archived in Philippines Tagged diving market shopping resort souvenirs wreck service equipment treasure subic fresh repair produce subic_bay salvage subic_dive_centre regulator dive_centre vasco's Comments (4)

The Best Treasure.....

Trying to blog but have just been rudely interrupted by a couple on holidays that I met in Vasco's bar last night. I must have been charming because they have just decided to start their SDI Open Water Course.... tomorrow! Honestly, the nerve!

sunny 35 °C
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So it seems I have inherited a slice of Brian's treasure hunting finesse during my time at Vasco's.

This morning we took his young bloke Connar, and cousins Amanda and Justin; all undertaking their open water, to the site of some sunken barges close to Subic Airport.

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It's a really shallow, easy dive and Brian sent us all out the find glass coke bottles which look amazing on the bar in Vasco's Restaurant.
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Needless to say, we did actually find one or two coke bottles, but I did him one better....

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Surfacing not wearing my mask, but sporting a pair of brand new, made in Italy, VERY real Ray Bans!!!

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I'm pretty sure my find is valuable enough to rival some of the more rare and ancient pieces uncovered by Brian in the past.

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Just before our second dive of the day, Connar requested I take some photos of him learning to dive with Jayson so he can take them to school for show and tell:

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Pieces of the barges as we drifted across them:
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Some beautiful marine life I saw along the way:
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Posted by VascoDiveMaster 15:44 Archived in Philippines Tagged diving resort wreck service equipment treasure subic repair subic_bay salvage subic_dive_centre regulator dive_centre vasco's Comments (6)

History of Homan: Part 2

The Nuestra Senora de la Vida

storm 35 °C
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It was going on day three of this nightmarish, cyclonic, torrential downpour, however it seems to be just peetering out. Clearly diving was not an option so I have spent today getting acquainted with my new pad; 'The Dog House.' It is a not only a family sized room; WITH a lounge room and air conditioning, of course but is actually the remnants of one if Brian's old ships! The floor is slightly angled in, the walls are all the original ship's thick heavy timber and there are gorgeous big windows looking out onto an amazing view of the bay. I am just a little bit spoiled and it is just a little bit schmick.... My New Home!

Part of becoming a dive master is learning how to service your own equipment; an excellent skill if you hate paying for someone else to do it for you. Alternatively you can now pay ME to do it for you! Jayson and I sat down with a really old and dodgy regulator and proceeded to pull the whole thing apart. Needless to say, we made a mess!

Needless to say, we made a mess!

And do not discount the ever-present and necessary cup of coffee!

Fortunately Brian knows how to distract me in a tense situation. He salvaged a box of treasures from the deep of a shelf by an open window of the restaurant which was rescued just in time since the rain beating in had disintegrated the box; leaving musket balls, coins, porcelain, human teeth (arrgh), a hazelnut shell and Spanish coins all over the window sill.
100_0980.jpgBrian's necklace contains a gold Spanish coin he salvaged and a blue Sapphire from his mining days

Brian's necklace contains a gold Spanish coin he salvaged and a blue Sapphire from his mining days

Treasures From The de la Vida

A History:

These treasures were all salvaged from the 18th Century Manila Galleon the 'Nuestra Senora de la Vida' on it's voyage bound for Central America. While the only existing Manila Galleon keel was discovered sometime in the 70's, it wasn't until 1984 that it was salvaged properly by Brian and his team of divers while exploring the northern end of Busuanga. History has documented the sinking of the 'Nuestra Senora de la Vida,' in 1620 as the result of a grave miscalculation by the ship's pilot, and biting a reef. The angry passengers, among whom were probably owners of the valuable cargo, hanged the hapless pilot as the ship was sinking.

The Spanish Pieces of Eight, from the Nuestra Senora de la Vida:

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 14:29 Archived in Philippines Tagged diving resort wreck service equipment treasure subic repair subic_bay salvage subic_dive_centre regulator dive_centre vasco's Comments (0)

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