A Travellerspoint blog

Off to Tagbilaran, Bohol

Hooking up with JM to go diving

sunny 28 °C

After spending the night in Manila domestic airport I boarded my flight to Tagbilaran at 6.40 a.m. After only catching a couple of hours kip on my rucksac in the departure lounge I was delighted to find myself with 2 spare seats next to me on the plane to lie my weary head on. On the approach to Bohol I was greeted by a beautiful view of the sandy beaches and gorgeous blue sea from the air. The short flight was very comfortable and I was looking forward to meeting up with Jamie and getting some dives in. Being a tiny airport, the baggage collection consisted of pulling your own bag off the back of the truck which suited me fine!! Greeted by a dozen moto riders I took the one nearest the back of the crowd just to get some space to negotiate the price, which was about $3 for the half hour ride out to Lona Beach. A pleasant ride through some countryside and I was at Jay's hotel room door. The lazy Canuck was still in his pit (granted it was only 10.00 a.m) but arose and we went out for some brekkie on the beach! I'd met Jay in a hostel in Chengdu and we'd arranged to hook up in the Pines, it was after speaking with him about diving that I decided to visit the country and check out the dive spots on offer.
After brekkie, over a few games of pool, he filled me in on his exploits during the remaining week he'd spent in China and what he made of the Pines so far. He'd already done a couple of dives with a company next to the hotel but wasn't impressed with them so we checked out what some of the other dive operators offered. We found a company called Underworld, run by a crazy German guy called Helmut, who had decent gear and was pretty sound so we arranged to go the following morning. That night we tucked into a few beers and some awesome seafood bbq on the beach.
It was a fairly early start the next morning (as is typical for scuba-divers) and we had a decent breakfast at Underworld before choosing our gear and walking down to the boat. It was a beautiful morning and the sea was calm as we headed out to our dive spot called sanctuary, pretty much perfect dive conditions. Visibilty was about 20 metres when we got down there and we spent a very relaxing hour down there amongst the fishes and coral. Jaap, our divemaster, pointed out a 1.5m baracuda in the vicinity watching us swim by and when we got to surface he said it was a resident of the area he'd seen many times before. We had a spot of lunch and hung out at Underworld during the early afternoon before Jay, Jaap and Helmut went out on a second dive. I came down with a stomach bug and was gutted to miss out, opting to retire to bed for the afternoon. Jay returned absolutley psyched about the dive he'd been on so I was pleased for him but gutted for myself! We hung out playing pool the next day and this became a theme for our trip around the Pines! He was winning the series at about 12-10 with the lead never being more than 2 games for either of us when we left Tagbilaran the next morning.

Posted by worldwideG 18:56 Archived in Philippines Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Learnin' to scuba-dive @ Coco-beach

sunny 32 °C

On the 7th September 2006 I arrived in paradise! From Manila I took a minibus south to where I transferred to a small boat and took a short ride to the resort of Coco Beach on Puerta Galera. I was welcomed by the staff with a necklace made out of sea shells and a coconut to drink. Then I was shown to my bungalow and told that if I needed anything to let Mama know and she would take care of it. I was taken aback at how comfortable and well laid out my room was and completely awestruck when I reached my balcony and took in the view of the palm trees, beach and stunning blue sea. To say it was a welcome change from the grime and shabbiness of Manila is an understatement! I had come here to undertake the PADI open water course and immediately got down to business. The friendly Danish and Filipino staff of the dive shop set me up with an itinerary for the next 4 days which involved a lot of reading, some tests, some pool dives and then some open water dives.
I sat down poolside with my PADI book and got down to business studying the skills and learning the knowledge I would need to become a safe and competent scuba-diver. That afternoon I read the first 2 sections and completed the reviews before retiring to my bed. I hadn't even taken a dip in the pool or the sea yet because I had so much to get through before I started my pool dives in the morning. After a great nights sleep I had a delicious buffet breakfast and visited the dive shop to take my first tests. I passed those comfortably and Rex (funky cold) Medina taught me how to gear up properly. After practising some very basic, but important, skills I was ready to take to the open water. On the boat on our wayto the dive site I was filled with anticipation, excitement and anxiety about doing the real thing whilst trying to keep cool and remember what I had been taught. One of the most important things is to remain calm underwater and breath deeply and slowly at all times in order to stay under for the longest time possible with the given oxygen supply.
The only time I had dived before was in a swimming pool at a Water Park in Majorca with my mate Nick and I had no idea what I was doing back then. This time I was doing it for real in the sea and I was a little nervous. I entered the water backwards off the side of the boat and was ready to go down into a whole new world. All went well on the descent, although I was breathing faster than I had in the pool. Within minutes we were blessed with the sight of a large sea-turtle less than 10 metres away. It was so peaceful underwater and everything moved so gracefully with the exception of myself. We practised some skills on the bottom for a few minutes at the end of our dive before resurfacing. So far so good underwater. It was back to the books when we returned as I had to have read and undertaken a practise test on the 3rd section before the next day. It was happy hour so I treated myself to a couple of long island iced teas to celebrate my first dive before settling down by the pool with my book.
The next morning I was in the pool again practising some more difficult skills this time, such as allowing my mask to fill with water before clearing it by blowing through my nose and completely removing my mask, replacing it and then clearing the water from the mask. I also experienced what it is like to run out of oxygen underwater when Rex turned off my air supply before turning it back on when I signalled I was out of air, not something I would like to experience for real. After the pool dive we were back on the boat heading out to the dive site for another open water dive. This time I felt a great deal more relaxed about the dive itself but a little anxious about practising the skills I had learnt earlier in the pool. I hate getting water in my mask and I was going to have to practise this in the sea, 15 metres below the surface. When the time came and Rex signalled me to remove my mask I hesitated and really didn't want to do it but Rex encouraged me and I didn't want to let him down so as quickly as I could I removed my mask, put it back on and cleared the water from it. I hope I never have my mask come off because I hate getting sea water in my eyes, man it stings. We were low on air by this point so we slowly resurfaced and returned back to the resort. Another textbook dive and I felt really good about my progress under the tuition of Rex, so good that I really enjoyed happy hour by the pool with Henk, his wife Elizabeth and a few long island iced teas!
It was that afternoon I met the beautiful Sammy by the pool and was subsequently gutted to find out that she was married! She joined us (Henk, Elizabeth and myself) for a delicious barbecue dinner that evening and we shared a few laughs upstairs watching Henk play pool. It was a pity that Sammy had to leave so soon after meeting because she was a lot of fun to be around and it was interesting talking to her about her experiences growing up in Toronto as she is Filipino by birth. The next morning I passed my final exam and we went out to the dive site for another open water dive. I learnt a very important lesson on this dive: do not consume 4 long island iced teas in the afternoon and follow them up with more drinks in the evening before diving the next day! I had a very poor dive due to my inability to cope with my mask filling with water every 2 minutes. I would have handled the situation in a calmer manner had I not been boozing the night before! I returned feeling pretty disappointed by myself and sorry to have let Rex down. Lesson learned. Later in the morning I had my final dive and I was determined to get the most out of it. Henk accompanied us on this dive and it was also his final dive as part of his PADI course. We went backwards off the side of the boat to enter the water already geared up and had a pleasant and peaceful time underwater. All went well and I finished on a high note.

Posted by worldwideG 05:43 Archived in Philippines Tagged luxury_travel Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 2 of 2) Page [1]