“Now! Jump! Swim, swim! Look down!” OMG! I am swimming six feet above a 20’ long whale shark. Welcome to Donsol in the Philippines, where finding whale sharks is a gazillion times easier than finding an ATM!
Why were we there?
It may take two and half days to get to Donsol from Moalboal, but only two and half minutes to find the world’s biggest fish. Guaranteed! Almost…
Paul’s Swimming Challenge #3
I passed challenges #1 and #2 like a f#@kig champ. I swam with turtles in Apo Island. And, in Moalboal I swam over a deep dropoff (accompanied by millions of schooling sardines). If I pass challenge #3, Laura will open our splurge fund and let me do an Open Water PADI course. If I don’t, I will continue to suffer the lonely life of a dive widow.
This time, I have to drop off a boat into the deep blue sea. The supporting cast will include the world’s biggest fish, the whale shark, and numerous non-swimming and raucous tourists.… Read more
Who wants to swim with a shimmering swirling cyclone of silvery sardines? You do! Awesome. Pack your bag and head for Moalboal on Cebu Island, Philippines. This is one wildlife encounter that is straight out of Discovery Channel’s Blue Planet. It is exhilarating and frankly unmissable if you are in the area.
Why were we there?
Laura had set me a few swimming challenges in preparation for doing a PADI Open Water course. I needed a big distraction to take my mind off challenge number two. And, a million metallic minnows seemed to fit the bill.
Paul’s Swimming Challenge #2
I sailed through part one with ease. I swam with turtles on Apo Island. We snorkeled with several of these gorgeous beasties for hours but they were easily within my shallow water swimming comfort zone. Part two would be psychologically more challenging. I had to swim over a deep dropoff. I would be staring down into the terrifying deep blue Abyss, which I had singularly refused to do on my last opportunity on Pulau Hatta in the Banda Islands. There was a dark blue line drawn in the sand (well, ocean) and I could not cross it!
Why the … Read more
If you have never seen a huge sea turtle, you should head to Apo Island in Southern Philippines. Unlike monuments or mountains, wildlife encounters do not come with guarantees. Weirdly, the Philippines turns this notion on its head. Apo Island, a speck in the Visayas just south of Dumaguete, was the first of several marine life areas in the Philippines that came up with the goods!
Laura throws down a challenge: see a turtle
Laura challenged me to push on with my swimming and snorkeling skills. I had to see turtles, swim over a drop-off, and see some big pelagic fish. We had a bet and this was one I really wanted to win.
The Philippines is a huge country of 7000 islands, but we only had three weeks to travel there. It took us ages to sort out an itinerary and we wanted it to be all killer and no filler. We knew that the Ifugao Rice Terraces would be a guaranteed hit, but where should we go for the best underwater action? It would be a bummer to travel for a couple of days and find out that the resident Horny Spotted Dork Rays had moved on for … Read more
Everyone knows fishermen exaggerate the size of their catch, but it is a little known fact that novice snorkelers can be a little generous with fish size too. But, really you should have seen the damn size of this enormous Napoleon wrasse. When I first saw him it was at least the size of yours truly. By the end of the week it was of Moby Dick proportions! Maybe I was overcompensating for the fact that Laura had seen a massive school of 50+ hammerheads the day before!
Welcome to Pulau Hatta in the Banda Islands, where the island is tiny but the undersea life is truly gargantuan. It was to be the setting for my first real attempt at snorkeling. And, I am glad I plunged into the briny since Hatta has given us some of the most fantastic experiences of the entire trip.
So, here it is part two of Paul’s conversion to fully-fledged water boy. After my first forays into water in the magnificent Togean Islands, I decided to do an intensive swimming course in Ko Lanta, Thailand while Laura was doing her PADI Open Water diving course. My eventual aim is to do a PADI course … Read more
Gili Air- fantastic tropical island, just be careful with the mushrooms
We are not the most enthusiastic beach bums on the planet but after a few months on the road it was time to kick back and stare blankly at sand and sea. We stocked up on good reads in Ubud- Laura picked up a couple of mystery novels and I dug out a couple of light reads Andrew Marr’s ‘History of the World’ and Daniel Kahnemann’s ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’. I am looking forward to exchanging these two fine books for some equally cerebral tomes at an island hostel. ‘Oh, wait…what are these ‘Shades of Grey’ books I am seeing everywhere.’ Damn…you get a different class of traveler around the world these days. When I first traveled, it was all Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Neruda, and Borges. Now, it is all lame soft porn…no wonder, everyone is practically naked in Indonesia!
Getting to Gili Air was extremely easy. We booked a fast boat online and the company (Blue Express) picked us up in a shuttle and took us to the port of Padang Bai, about an hour from Ubud. The sea voyage took about 90 minutes. All very painless, ruthlessly … Read more