Manila from the 11th to the 12th of February 2011
There is not much happening here, because most of the times I spend on the Computer. Writing the Résumés on Micronesia and building the Philippines site. And I started to put my "Best of Micronesia" video together which might take me another two or three days. So the only times I get out of my room is to get to a shopping mall nearby and enjoy the food variety, which I missed the last months.
Cebu from the 13th to the 15th of February 2011
Sunday the 13th of February 2011
Travelling day. Packing up and to the airport. I was a little bit afraid of 60kg baggage. 20kgs for dive equipment, 10kgs for my Video Housing and lights, 20kgs for clothes and other stuff lige chargers and whatsoever. The last 10 kgs are dedicated to my Computer and Cameras. At Philippine Airlines you can purchase a Sports Pack which last for a year and gives you 20 kgs extra for sports equipment. My two carry-ons I negotiated in with a friendly supervisor. Tough work, though. The plane was a A330 and was booked 40 %. When you sit in the plane then you ask yourself what this is for.
You think you fly on an island and Cebu is a bigger fisherman village. Population of 3 million is not really that small. In the evening I went to the closest mall. Filipinos love their malls. No shortage of food options there. Probably close to a hundred restaurants.
Monday the 14th of February 2011
Business day today. Visa extension and flight bookings. In the afternoon I went to a movie. "Black Swan". Pretty tough, but Natalie Portman plays brilliant. Another video editing session in the evening.
Tuesday the 15th of February 2011
Dedicated to finalize editing. And the "Best of Micronesia" is finally done.
Malapascua from the 16th to the 23rd February 2011
Wednesday the 19th to Monday the 21st of February 2011
I have to summarize a few days, because I am so busy ... To a certain part this is really true. Malapascua is known for the Thresher Sharks. The best chances to see them are right after sunrise. So I got up the whole week between 4 and 5 am, that you can dive at 6. You have to be a little bit crazy to do this, but "No pain no gain". You come back have breakfast and then you do next two dives. When you get home around $ pm, you have a shower and an early dinner. Then to bed early because the nights are short. The real chances to see a Thresher are between 10 and 20 %. It is some kind of luck. Today I was lucky and I have seen one for about a minute. So the work was worth it. The name of the divesite is Monad Shoal. Yesterday we did a dive a Quimod Soal and we saw 3 Hammerheads. Really nice.. Close to 40 Meters and really dark. No video, but still good. The rest of the diving here is Macro. Nudies, Pygmy seahorses and so on. I can't film it properly because my batteries or the lights are still in USA. (-> Guam Dary) The last days I have been diving with a group of Thai. Really nice people. Was fun. Thor has a diveshop in Bangkok. He is an expert in diving Asia. Got a lot of Infos for the rest of my trip. During the last days I did my dive number 500 !
Tuesday the 22nd of February 2011
Gave it another try with the Threshers. No luck today. Then Lapus Lapus at really heavy current. In the afternoon the usual, wash the gear and hope it is drying.
Wednesday the 23rd of February 2011
Slept in till 7. Felt like a relief that the alarm didn't go off at 4.30. Then breakfast and a walk around the island. Chilled in the afternoon.
Cebu/Moalboal from the 24th of February to the 2nd of March 2011
Thursday the 24th of February 2011
Pack up and 9 am we left by boat. Half an hour to Maya, the sea was flat as glass. The 3 Hours to Cebu by car. Bride (a backpacker from Australia) shared my car. We have been diving together. She is as old as my nephew Tim and she is travelling on her own through the Philippines during Semester break. Respect. In the evening the inevitable Mall visit to get a different tast of food.
Friday the 25th of February 2011
Transfer to Moalboal. Looks almost like a german neighborhood to me. After having the relaxed part on Malapascua, everything is well organized here. People are Tourists not Travellers here. It is a big difference, believe me. They have packed in all their problems, that I have left behind by now. Sometimes you want to force people to relax. Pretty much tension here. In general travelling has changed. With the Internet and all the Cellphones it is hard to escape home and calm down. You can feel this here pretty well
Saturday the 2th of February 2011
The departure time of the boat was 10.20 am. 5 Minutes to 10 they knocked at my door and said that everybody is waiting for me. I am always on time, but this is definetly a bit too much. Diving was really nice. No big stuff. Small stuff like frogfish and nudies and so on. And we saw two turtles. Many people though. I am looking forward to my liveaboard, because then you have some dive sites on your own.
Sunday the 27th of February 2011
Got a little cold again. It is really cold here (given the fact, that we are in the tropics). You adjust way too fast to the warm weather. It is raining and the temperature surely dropped to the beginning twenties. No comments from Europe please !!! So I decided to leave the fins. In the afternoon we went to a cockfight in Moalboal. Interesting but really cruel. I do not think I will ever watch this again. But until their death the roosters live a much better life than any of the chicken in the farms. There are always two sides of the story.
Monday the 28th of February 2011
Finally the sea is calm enough that we can go to Pescador to see the big school of Sardines. Really beautiful. It is a nature reserve but a couple of weeks ago a big fishing trawler showed up in the middle of the night and took about half of the school. Ruthless. It is still beautiful, but they have been everywhere before that incident. Afternoon dive at the House reef. Beautiful nudies and soft corals.
Tuesday the 1st of March 2011
Did one dive today. Although my nose is clear my sinuses are not really ready to dive. Because the next week will be "dive free" anyway, there is n ot a big problem in that. It rasined the whole afternoon, though the task to get things dry was a bit challenging.
Wednesday the 2nd of March 2011
My appointed driver came to pick me up on time. He arrived with a broken power generator, though we had to drive on battery juice. We made it until an hour to Cebu. He called another driver, they exchanged batteries and the new driver took me to the Hotel. Had to organize some things- On the move the rest of the afternoon. There is always something.
Puerto Princesa / Cebu / Puerto Princesa from the 3rd to the 10th of March
Thursday the 3rd of March 2011
To the airport in the morning. The taxi drivers seem to hate it like the pest when they have to put the meter on. Just on the ridees to the airport. Somehow they do black money there or whatever. With 4 pieces of bagagge your position to negotiate is limited. You fly for 1100 Peson to Manila and the Taxiride to the airport is 300 Pesos. Kind of a mismatch. Peso to Euro is 60 to 1. 5 Euros for half an hour Taxiride is not really a lot, but ... In the afternoon I walked around Puero Princesa. A bit more laid back here.
Friday the 4th of March 2011
It looks like that my batteries are about to be arriving today. Called Gary and he said I can pickthem up tomorrow. So i booked a flight back to Cebu. If you asked yourseld why I didn't stay in Cebu, it is not that easy. Because I travel with a lot of bags and extra weight I have to book that in advance. When I rebook that flight I lose the prebooked extra bagagge. So I flew with extra bagagge to Puerto Princesa and fly back with just a carry on and leave my bags there. I don't want to make the math. Probably it wouldn't have mattered, but ...
Saturday the 5th of March 2011
Flew through Manila. Had an hour connection. The plane was late 40 Minutes. The information guy ran with me through security and when we reached the gate we found out that the Cebu plane was an hour late ;-). Late the afternoon I picked up my batteries. What a relief. If you think it through what logistics are envolved that I can shoot Macro again ... You have to be a little bit crazy. But now I am back in business. I just love happy ends.
Sunday the 6th of March 2011
Did some sightseeing in Cebu. Almost had I fight with a cab driver. Drove me 15 Minutes in the wrong direction. He had no idea where I wanted to go but said "No Problem". Happened a lot in Latin America to me. Never get used to that attitude. Went to the movies again. This time something more easy. "The adjustment bureau". Really liked it. Very good entertainment.
Monday the 7th of March 2011
10 am to the airport. 3 hours in Manila. Arrived 6 pm in Puerto Princesa. Got my bagagge and called it an easy night
Tuesday the 8th of March 2011
Took a tour to see the underground river. The river is undergrounds for 8 kms, where 4,5 are accessible by boat. We went in by about 1,5 kms. Really nice. Pictures are online. On the way weg we walked up a hill through some rocks. Down with a zipline. Funny.
Wednesday the 9th of March 2011
Last day here. Had to change Hotels again. Then I went to town. Sometimes it is unbelievable how cheap it is here. A botte of rum is 1 €. The superior (8 years) is about 2,10 €. For the 15 year old you have to invest 4,30 €. It is really good stuff. What a shame that I hardly drink Alcohol at the moment :-). Tomorrow Tubbataha. For weeks I am really look forward to it.
Philippine Siren from the 10th to the 23rd of March 2011
Thursday the 10th to Wednesday the 16th of March Tubbataha Reef
Met the rest of the group from Germany at 9.20 am at the airport of Puerto Princesa. Then Transfer to the boat. Forecast was for a very windy trip. The crossing to Tubbataha was a rough one. The plan was 15 hours, but we needed 22 hours. Got seasick for the first time in a long period. My roommate Michael gave me a pill during the night and I started feeling better. Friday we did just two dives. The usual schedule is to get up at 6. Briefing at 6.30 am. Then first dive and breakfast. Usually around 2 hours surface interval, then the second dive. Lunch. Usually we do 4 dives a day, but whenever you do not feel like it you pass. For non divers this may appear stressy, but for me it is much more relaxing than diving land based. The time window to dive Tubbataha is 3 months out of the year, because the rest of the year it is to choppy. At the moment it is really rough, so we can't dive every site at all times. I really like the reef. The gorgonians are outstanding. You can see that the reef has been left alone for the last 10 years and that it is recovering. The sins of the past are still visible, though. We had Mantas twice. Reef sharks are on every dive. Lots of small fish. We had a couple of big schools of Jacks. the bid rare thing didn't show up. This is due to the choppy conditions and when we could dive the best places, we had no current. Nevertheless I loved the reef and will be happy to come again. The weather is something out of my influence.
Thursday the 17th to Friday the 18th of March 2011 Crossing to Negros
Pretty big waves where it feels, that our ship is at its limits. We were supposed to arrive at night, but then we arrive late morning. We did one dive at Arena (fishing village in the middle of the ocean). Then off to Negros. Planned time 17 hours. The actual time was 40 hours. Friday morning the dive platform cut loose and destroyed a cabin window. The mood on the boat wasn't that good before, but now they are making plans to sue the company. I would have loved to have a stressfree environment for that journey. Somehow I can understand, because water in the cabin and the noise what the boat does when it is rolling is really annoying, but you can't blame the boat or the agent for bad weather. And that things brake during a journey. I have plenty of examples. But everybody deals different with stress situations.
Saturday the 19th of March APO/Dauin
Chartered a Bangka today and dove Dauin and Apo getaucht. Black sand in Dauin and looking for small stuff like ghost pipe fish and so on. Really interesting. The reef in Apo was nice as well. Really liked it. After the nice day today the mood on the boat got better.
Sunday the 20th of March Panglao
he whole day on the search for small stuff. On the night dive we saw a blue ring octopus. He is the "George Clooney" of the octopuses. Pretty rare. Everybody got excited, which I cannot totally understand. Of course it is beautiful to see something rare, but the thing is really unimposing. My video is not really good either, because everybody got so excited and I had no space to put the camera down. If you can't put the camera down with macro the video really gets shaky and nobody wants to watch it.
Monday the 21st of March Balicasag
Beautiful dives here. Especially the third dive was spectacular. Big school of Jacks that liked to play and stayed around for about half an hour. In and out, film it in any perspective. Really nice. Second dive we had a couple of turtles. Hard work to keep up with them. They won't stay still ;-)- So I kicked and kicked and kicked. My best dives in the visayas so far. Had some nice critters on the night dive.
Monday the 22nd of March Cabilao
Just did two dives today. Then the drying part started again. Was nice today, but yesterday has been my highlight since Tubbataha. In the evening we had a little party with half of my fellow travellers. The rest was busy. We had fun, though.
Wednesdayday the 23rd of March Cebu
Leave the boat at 9 am. Then "office". Homepage and emails. After two weeks things add up.
Donsol from the 24th to the 29th of March 2011
Thursday the 24th of March
Travelling day. Cebu airport. Fly to Legaspi. Transfer to donsol. Chilled the rest of the day.
Friday/Saturday the 25th to the 26th of March
Couldn't motivate myself to do a lot these days. Diving was cancelled due to the sickness of the guide. So I chilled and started the preseection of my videos.
Sunday the 27th of March
Diving today. Manta Bowl wasn't possible because of the weather. So we went to San Miguel. Almost the whole day pouring rain and a water temperatur of 25 degrees (77 ° Fahrenheit). On the edge with 3 mm. I got really cold at the end of the dive. The rain didn't help too much to warm up, though. There is not a lot to see so we limited the dive time to 45 minutes. Third dive was all right. Lots of nudies. Overall you won't miss much if you pass on diving here. In the evening I really had trouble to warm up again.
Monday the 28th of March
Today Tré and his group arrived. A totally nice surprise that my friend and instructor Nick from Palau is with them. So I speed up my preselection of my clips and got a useful hints from Nick. 3000 dives with a videocamera is hard to beat.
Tuesday the 29th of March
Because today has been my last chance for whaleshark watching I went. Every supposed to be good for the sharks here. 6 People on the boat. 1 Boat per shark. 10 minutes interaction per boat. Bla Bla Bla. Total nonsene. We had 14 boats "fighting" for a single whaleshark. Snorkelling is a battle. I had a triathlete on board. She said, that compared to that a triathlon is really tame.No chance to get footage. All that you see is a bunch of fins. This is total bullshit here. I can say just one thing: Stay at home and forget about Donsol. This is just Big Business under the cover of "eco tourism". My highlight in Donsol has been to meet Nick and Tré again. The rest is just a bad experience.
Puerto Galera from the 30th of March to the 4th of Apri 2011
Wednesday the 30th of March
Get up at 5. Transfer to Legaspi. Fly to Manila and Transfer to Batangas. Boat to Sabang Beach/Puerto Galera. I have never seen so many old idiots with young girls walking around. Disgusting.
Thursday the 31st of March
Three dives today. Unfortunately the water is just 25 degrees here, too. I started to wear my 0,5 on top of my 3/2 mm. The it is okay. 5 mm would be perfect but rental equipment in tent size is hardly available. The dives were okay, but the "big" Critter Dive still has to come. At least the sun is shining.
Friday the 1st of April
Day trip to verde island. I do not think I ever saw that many Nudies on one dive. Minimum 25. Sometimes 10 centimeters (4 inches) long. And an abundance of scorpion fish. Pretty nice. Third dive "Washing machine". The diveguides warned us to leaver the cameras, becuase the current can be extreme. Looks like the washing machine has been on delicate cycle. But, you never know.
Saturday the 2nd of AprilThree times diving out of Sabang. The viz is reduced at the moment. This is a very friendly expression. My highlight was a frogfish of 30 centimeters. Never saw a big one like this. Black. Had the impression he swaööow my light. You dee a big black something on the video. But what did I write earlier in this blog: I still got eyes.
Sunday the 3rd of April
Pretty good day dives in still really bad viz. Really good video of a frog fish. We saw a Helmut Gurnard (strange name for a fish). At the night dive we saw a little octopus of about 1 Centimeter. In the fishbook he stands as undefined. My video is pretty good actually pretty good. Night dives are spectacular here.
Monday the 4th of April
Two more dives with my dive buddies from Spain. Nice people, but one is a disaster under water. I can't count anymore how many time I got hit by his fins. The diveguide are even treated worse. When they point something out, he shoots there like a rocket. He has issues with his brakes, though. Sometimes they really have a tough job. In the afternoon the usual game. Hoping that the stuff dries.
Manila/Singapore from the 5th to the 10th of Apri 2011 The way home
Tuesday the 5th of April
Travel day. Boat to Batangas. Then Transfer to Manila. Went shopping to buy a few things in the afternoon. Had dinner with Atom.Wednesday the 6th of April
Airport. Flight to Singapore. No special things happened.
Thursday the 7th of April
Organizing day. Hired an agent to get my 60day visa to Indonesia. It is easier an more reliable that way. You get your passport back in the evening and everything is done. Well worth the extra buck. The I had to send my batteries in again. This time just one is dead, so I still can shoot. Really annoying anyway. In the evening I had dinner at the "Maharajah". This used to be managed by Robert.
Friday the 8th of April
Tourist program today. Sentosa Island. Went to the famous aquarium. It is a stange experience to see the animals caged, which you usually see in freedom. The only thing that helps me enjoying this, is that if kids see how graceful sharks are, they might stop eating the stupid soup. Especially in Singapore which is the biggest sales market for sharkfins besides Hong Kong. But, actually my expectations aren't really high. In the afternoon I walked Orchard road. My Hotel is close to Clarke Quay. Really nice in the evening with bars and restaurants.
Saturday the 9th of April
Dedicated this day to finish my video Part one of the Philippines. First time really bad weather in the evening. Thunder and Lightning. Finished the day with a Singapore Sling.
Sunday the 10th of April
Everything comes to an end. Packing up and hang around the day. Nightflights are kind of nice, but the day before is not the real deal.
To be continued in the Philippines Section: Diary