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Entries about waterfalls

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)

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)

Well look who finally came home!

storm 28 °C

The drive from the airport felt like I’d been away for years. Having a beer at the bar last night felt like I’d never left at all. I’m more or less part of the furniture now at Vasco’s.

It’s been more or less 6 weeks; I’ve visited another 5 countries, climbed the highest mountain in South East Asia, eaten WAY to much good food, spent a ridiculous amount of money, had my passport checked 21 times and dived the Celebes Sea; allegedly one of the top 10 diving destinations in the world. Unfortunately not Sipadan, because in my usual style, I showed up without having booked ahead. I got a couple of dives on Mabul and Kapulai islands which are pretty much next door. I found out too late that apparently all it takes is an offer to do it naked and you are automatically on the next boat to Sipadan.

The visibility left a lot to be desired.
The hoards of backpackers, diving hippies and blokes too old to still be sleeping in a hostel, were overwhelming.

Our dive master started frothing when he suggested we “just MIGHT see a ghost pipe fish!” and I thought “Pfft! See ‘em everyday hanging off the L.C.U.” Sure enough, he surfaces elated to see a specimen that’s ‘Top 5 in the world!’

Between to Borneo-based diving websites, Lonely Planet and every other tourist travel brochure printed in the country, the corals of the Celebes Sea are described with the same uniformly irritating slogan, ‘technicolour!’ To be honest, yes the technicolour corals were just that, and I still associate this with the ancient, dull-coloured Disney cartoons from the Saturday mornings of my childhood. Back in the days when we still had a concave screen and we still had to get up to change channels. Disappointingly, there were no digital, plasma, or LED corals in sight…. And not a wreck in sight.

So what’s Subic Bay got to show for itself up against the best in the world?

Ornate ghost pipefish? Check!
Schools of glittering jacks? Check!
Resident green sea turtles? Check!
Shy but elegant blue-painted lobsters? Check!
Super awesome dive master? Check!
Warm ocean temps? Check!
‘Hi-def’ hard and soft corals? Check!
Blue-ribbon eels, pharaoh cuttlefish, barracudas, banded pipefish, giant groupers? Check!
Ocean full of plastic garbage courtesy of island-based local community? Hmmm, surprisingly lacking!
Green Sea Turtle on Nat's Reef

Green Sea Turtle on Nat's Reef

When I was asked “Why aren’t you doing your dive master here, it’s cheaper than anywhere else!?” I thought to myself, well, actually it’s about the same price! But while money will always be a deciding factor to a long-term backpacker, the fact that you are undertaking a job that makes you responsible for other people’s lives makes me think the quality of the training I receive seem a little more relevant.

So does Borneo deserve to be in the Top 10 diving in the world? Well sure, I’d rate it, purely for the reason that I saw a turtle to size of a VW Beetle. But if part of that includes a sweaty 2” foam mattress in a 12-bed dorm room, and a single toilet shared between fifty, I’d rather be holed up in my own little pirate ship, the SS Dog House, where the beer is cheap, the sun is shining (except for today because there’s a typhoon) the people are beautiful and I can spend my days fluffing around naming reefs after myself. Arrrrrrrrrgh!

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 12:27 Archived in Philippines Tagged waterfalls sunsets_and_sunrises diving beach surf storm surfing sunglasses dive scuba_diving typhoon whale turtle thunder subic sunburn torrential lionfish cyclone vascos dive_master subic_dive_centre dive_centre p= Comments (4)

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