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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)

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:
large_IMG_0740.jpg100_2421.jpgAnd I'm ready to go swimming!

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)

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)

We finally see 'n@'s Reef'


View Dive Master Lifetime Adventure on VascoDiveMaster's travel map.

At last! 54P1010194.jpgWe have images available for the elusive and unbelievable Nat's Reef. There is so much colour, coral and just plain stuff going on here, it has fast become my favourite place to go and at a maximum of only 15m it is suitable even for very-beginners. This morning Gregg and Brian powered on ahead, allegedly running into Mr Turtle from the day before and giving him a tickle on the belly. Lagging at the back of the pack with Ryan the handsome US Navy diver with a day-off, I stumbled upon an enormous octopus
6P1010201.jpg hiding in his Octopus' Garden beneath a rock and yet again, some vibrant nudibranch that always make me smile.
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Here are two new divers who literally began their open water course this morning. 2P1010258.jpg They finished up their lectures and confined water dives super quick and headed straight for the ocean this afternoon whilst I was by the Waterfront bartering with the beach sellers for schmick sunnies using phone cards.
Gregg may think it's pretentious to name the greatest dive site in Subic after the greatest Dive Master to have ever graced these waters ;-) but after informing me that our customers hijacked my underwater camera for their first open water dive which just happened to be on 'Nat's Reef'...... I think the name might be catching!

P6060261.jpgSo after having to farewell said handsome American this afternoon, I am planning on drowning my sorrows this evening over a schooner and then making a spontaneous trip to Hong Kong at 7am tomorrow for a full day of Disneyland!!!!! No, I'm not joking. Blogs will continue in approximately two days depending on my mental state after fulfilling every childhood dream. But for this evening at least, the second NSW vs QLD State of Origin game is being played live in Barretto in the Aussie Bar ironically named 'Arizona.' Go BLUES!!!!

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 16:38 Archived in Philippines Tagged diving us island philippines sunglasses paradise tropical scuba_diving navy waterfront american subic oakley dive_centre diver sunic_bay Comments (3)

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