Sangat Island Reserve

Trip Start Apr 26, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Philippines  ,
Monday, May 23, 2005

Sangat Island Reserve

Our last 2 days in the Philippines took us to the dive/beach resort run by an English gay named Andy. Sangat is a beautiful island about 40 minutes away from Coron. The main "resort" is situated on the southern side of the island in a beautiful crescent bay among limestone karst slopes & thick palm trees.

Andy has spent about 10 years trying to make the island both environmental but also a stylish yet relaxed dive & beach resort. Recently Sangat Island has been made a marine reserve so the waters & island will now be even more protected. This is a really great place for divers as many Japanese ship wrecks from the 2nd World war are within a 10-15 minute boat ride. In the bar there are amazing pictures of some of the ships being sunk taken from the fighter planes during the attack.

We had a beautiful hut on high stilts set back slightly from the beach. As the Island only has 10 huts it feels very exclusive & low environmental impact.

When we arrived we soon met Andy (the owners) parents who were staying for a short while on their travels. Nick and Joyce were fascinating, we spent hours discussing anything and everything. Nick is a pioneer - he started diving 60 years ago and the b &w photos, from the 50's, show hundreds of people lined up to watch Nick & a few friends dive off the beach in Great Yarmouth.

Andy has over 30 locals who work here. They are great crew who seem to really enjoy their jobs. You hear people singing away (a national hobby) in the Philippines and always laughing.

in the evening and early morning monkeys creep down from the jungle to steal things. The baby ones are still learning the trade and spend most of their time play fighting.

On the beach there are canoes that we borrowed and then paddled a couple if miles around the island to snorkel in coral gardens of the cliffs. Great fun but trying to climb back into a canoe floating in the sea is not easy or elegant.

We left early in the morning to catch our flights to Java. The boat trip was stunning; the sea was so calm it was like a mirror and tinged with the reds and purples of dawn. We scooted around the island taking 10 minutes to cover an hour's paddling yesterday. After 20 mins we turned into a mangrove swamp, shooting down rivers between the mangrove trees. We were delivered to a small village, to meet our car.

The villagers despite being poor have put a great effort to make the place nice. Every house, even those over water, have bamboo picket fences and pot plants hanging from the entrances and walls.

Our car was about 40 mins late due to a flat tyre. So we sat and chatted to a retired old toothless man who in his working days used to manage bands, sending them all over the world. Singing is a national passion here. In particular warbling ballads by Tom Jones, Elaine Page and Celine Dion - locals often break to a spontaneous warble, every bar has a band of gyrating warblers and we ran from anywhere boasting a karaoke. The country has definitely conjugated the verb "to warble". On a serious note, many Filipino bands get to earn very good money in hotels from the US to the Arab states and every young person dreams of travel, money and fame this way. Exporting warblers is certainly a better export than sending nurses, desperately needed here, to the NHS or providing young wives to overweight old European business men - which are the other trades in evidence here. Certainly our old man was very proud of his part in the music industry!

When the car arrived, the driver set out on a mission to make up the 40 mins. But this was on winding gravel roads - this man could teach George Bush a thing or two about blind faith and stupidity - we slid around the corners, raced down the wrong side of the road and beeped everything out of the way. With no seat belts we sat in the back clinging to handles and seats watching the crucifix swinging on the mirror (hoping it worked). we arrived on time with only 1 casualty, a big rooster too proud to run off the road and instantly converted into someone's next meal.

Busuanga King's Ranch airport is located on the high plateau that is hidden from view in the centre of the island surrounded by the karst pinnacles that edge the island. Our one hour flight back to Manila was on a small 18 seater Asian Spirit plane & the views over the sparkling jewelled seas & golden beaches made us vow to come back again soon.

When we arrived back in Kuala Lumpur it was quite a pleasure to be back in familiar friendly, efficient & modern surroundings even if only for ore night! We were ecstatic to be able to cancel our Australia (Brisbane) flights - for no charge, contrary to Trailfinders charge of €250 pp to cancel these flights! So now we can enjoy more time in S. E. Asia - hurrah!
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