I Found Nemo (Jane)

Trip Start Jun 22, 2008
Trip End Jul 04, 2013

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Where I stayed
AquaVenture Reef Club

Flag of Philippines  ,
Tuesday, December 9, 2008

We finally were able to get away for the weekend and decided to go to Anilao for some diving.  Anilao is about a 2 1/2 - 3 hour drive south of Manila partly on highway and partly on secondary roads running through small towns and along the coast.  Getting there was easy.  Our driver knew the way.  All we had to do was sit and look at the scenery and twiddle our thumbs.  I think we need to find something to entertain ourselves with on these long car rides.  No more fighting over which exit to get off on or who's decision it was to make that wrong turn.  Kind of takes the fun out of the road trip. 

We stayed at the AquaVenture Reef Club which is a small resort catering to divers.  They have a number of rooms that are basic but comfortable enough.  The food is really good and plenitful. Diving is basically what you do there although there is a pool and a deck overlooking the water for relaxing and reading.  There is no beach for swimming along this stretch of the coast.  The resorts and hotels are all built along the mountainside leading down to the water where there is a strip of rocky shoreline.  We decided to just relax the rest of the day we got there and dive the next two.  The dive schedule is pretty relaxed.  They will pretty much go out whenever you are ready.  There are lots of dive boats, crew members and divemasters available so you don't have to all pile into one boat and then be forced to dive in places to please others in the group.  We had a divemaster assigned to us.  His name was Abet and he really went out of his way to make sure we had a good experience.  It was our first dive in about 18 months so we just wanted to go to the reefs the first time out and do an easy dive to make sure our bouyancy was under control and we got comfortable under the water again.  No problem. Everything came together and we had a great dive.  The first dive was at Twin Rocks which was only about 6 or 7 minutes from the resort.  We weren't sure what to expect as far as the condition of the reefs and the fish life because we had heard the area was still recovering damage suffered from years of bad fishing practices. We were very pleasantly surprised.  There were large schools of fish that we got to swim with.  Abet brought bread for us to feed them and had his camera ready to take pictures of us as the fish swarmed around us.  I got bit by a big Angelfish.  Luckily they don't have much in the way of teeth.

After years of diving in the western world it was nice to see some of the creatures and plant life that are only found over here.  We saw giant clams, lionfish, yellow frog fish, and lots of small tropical fish native to this part of the world including  the various types of Anemone fish aka Clownfish aka Nemo.  There was lots of plant life that looked like the feathers from antique ladies hats and tucked in a sea fan was something I always wanted to see - a tiny pigmy seahorse.  Unfortunately it was so small and my eyes are so bad that I only saw a blur.  But I knew he was there. I really need to get a mask with corrective lenses.  Even though things appear 25% larger under water, the details still get lost in a blur.  At least I can still read my pressure gauge and dive computer.  I guess that's the important thing.  .

Our diving was done in the morning.  The afternoon was spent hanging out reading,checking out what the other divers were up to and watching the Manny Pacquaio fight against Oscar de la Hoya.  The fight had occurred earlier in the morning but the repeat was televised in the afternoon.  We already knew the Pac Man had won but you had to see if happen anyway.  He is a Philippine national hero.  Everything stopped at the resort while the fight was on TV. They told us everything probably had stopped in the whole country.  Even crime. The Inquirer headline the next day stated it was like Christmas for the Philippines.

We also spent some time trading stories of our transition to life in Manila with another American expat we met.  We meet some interesting people here and often wonder what part of their stories they aren't telling us.  Thisguy is our age and hasn't worked in 15 years.  Yet he's got enough money to keep a house in the states and an apartment in Manila and fly back and forth a couple of times a year.  And he has enough money to dive anytime he wants.  And he has two ex wives he had to pay lots of money to.  He was at the resort taking a technical dive course with his instructor who is a Frenchman who used to hold a deep diving record and who also has lived in the Philippines for many years and is a dive instructor who trains dive instructors.  He also seemed to have enough money to live comfortably and keep up his diving habit as well as keep his kid in private school in Manila.  We keep finding people like this who don't have regular employment and just travel or dive or whatever without much concern for their finances. And they aren't beach bums and drifters.  Somebody is not telling us something. There is some secret to theirlifestyles that they are not divulging and we want to know what it is!

Our second day of diving started off at Kirby's Rock which required a boat ride to a nearby island only 15 minutes away.  we had to get an early start though because the current would start picking up mid-morning.  We did our back roll off the side of the banca (boat) and descended to look at the sea life that was living in and around Kirby's Rock. There were a large number of small yellow nudibranchs on one side of the rock.  There was also a resident yellow frog fish and a larger black frog fish. There was enough at Kirby's Rock to keep us entertained for almost an hour before we ascended.

The last dive of our trip was to Eagle Point which is just off the shore from the Eagle Point Resort.  The reef here starts very shallow and drops off.  I imagine snorkelers and divers would be equally happy here.  This was another long dive on a very nice reef.  More giant clams.  Russ found a moray eel.  We saw some sort of green crustacean which I had never seen before.  Abet said it was some sort of shrimp.  I'm not sure he knew exactly.  It looked like a cross between a clawless lobster and a shrimp but green.  Very odd.  We tried to find it in a sea life identification book but couldn't find anything that resembled it.  There's a lot of really strange stuff down there.  Some of them look like life forms from another planet but here they are, right on ours.

Unfortunately, this was the end of our trip and we had to go back to Manila after lunch.  But it was a very nice break from life in the city and it was great to finally dive again.  We've got all kinds of ideas for other dive trips.  Puerta Galera, Palawan, and Apo Island are all supposed to be great dive destination.  And those are just the Philippine destinations.  There's also Palau right in our back yard, Phuket, Malaysia.  The list goes on and on.  All we need is lots of money and lots of time, two things that are not always easy to come by. At least for some of us.
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Regina on

I've been reading some of your blogs and it's quite interesting how you adopt the culture and places here in the Philippines.

Have you tried diving in Cebu? You may try Moalboal Cebu as well..

rjdemp on

Thanks for reading and the comments. No, havent' tried Cebu yet but it is on our list.

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