Friday, 4 January 2013

The Philippines - Donsol and Ticao Island

After an early start (the benefits of jetlag) and being delivered to the wrong airport we finally flew to Legaspi. The first time in my life when I asked for tea I was not given sugar or milk. I was told it’s a black tea. Hm. Interestingly, we flew together with David Pomerand!! Don’t feel too ignorant if you don’t know him, we didn’t either but lots of Filipino wanted to take photos with him. Apparently he’s a famous American singer. We’ll google him later.

We are ‘big in the Philippines’. I feel very self-conscious as I am a head taller than most of them. This means 1.5 head for Paul! Look at this. Can you spot him?

We are also having serious trouble understanding the Filipino accent, even Paul. They even gave him a new name, they keep calling him Sir Paul Hugs. This makes me Mrs. Hugs. Kinda makes me happy that my passport has my maiden name on.

From Legaspi we were together with a Canadian couple, turned out we are on the same program for a few days. From the sunny Legaspi we were transported to Donsol for the whaleshark interaction. The journey was an hour by car and it was raining almost throughout. By the time we got there it was sunny. We had a quick lunch, then were put on our separate boats. We were told that the day before there were 5 sightings but in the morning there were none as the visibility was not good. It was raining, you see. Usually you can fit 6 people on them but we had a private boat sorted out for us.

We had an army of people, 5 of them were on the lookout for the whalesharks. Two on the front, one lower than the other, and two at the back. Later realised that the fifth was standing right above us, sometimes I saw his foot peeking out.

The sky was sunny and the water emerald green. We were poised to the ready so when they say ‘get ready’ we could quickly put on our mask, snorkel and fins and jump in the water from the sides. They said they usually spot the whalesharks from their shadow in the water or from their dorsal fins. Then we looked up and realised that today is not our day. We saw it was raining in the distance and we were going right in that direction.

For the next 3 hours we were going up and down in the bay with our boat but there was no chance of seeing anything, the water was so dark. We could only hope for a dorsal fin but the whalesharks rarely come up to the surface. We had a little sleep on the boat. Do I have to mention that by the time we got back the sky was clear? I could see a trend setting in with the weather.

We were then transported back to our resort on Ticao Island. The first place we will spend more than a few hours. Turned out that with the 2 Canadians we were the only guests in the whole resort! Made me happy that the other couple was with us. I would’ve felt bad for all these people working through the New Years just because of us. We were also happy that they seem such nice people, it would’ve been awkward with for example a Chinese couple who did not speak English at all. Also, David is into underwater photography so Paul can get a few tips from him.

Half an hour later at 7pm we had our dinner which was plenty. We finished at 8 and had a quick word with the dive centre’s stuff. At this point I was falling off my chair. We went back to the room, and this is what was waiting for us:

had a quick shower and were in bed at 8.30. Yay for jetlag.

Finally, I want to show you one of the things we had to sign which I found quite funny:
‘DET does not guarantee the presence of whale sharks, manta rays and other wildlife during your visit. DET will not be liable for the missing presence of whale sharks, manta rays or other wildlife. It is understood that the whale sharks, manta rays and other wildlife are wild animals and are beyond the control of DET’.

Special thanks to James Harrington for giving us the chance for the whaleshark encounter and to the Cone family for our special beachfront paradise.

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