Coron, Palawan

Spent the weekend with some friends on a crash tour of Coron, Palawan. We went there on a Friday night, spent two days going around Coron and were back in Manila by Monday morning. It was almost hectic and sometimes tiring but the time we spent there sure were an awesome two days.

On the first day, we went island hopping. First stop was Cayangan Lake. Supposed to be one of the cleanest lakes in the country. It probably is but the trail to the lake was so muddy that by the time you get to the lake your feet are already muddy too. And guess where people would be washing up. The lake itself is great. It sits amidst towering limestone cliffs. The water was clean and clear although there was really nothing to see once you were actually in the water. Second stop was Twin Lagoon which was a natural feature accessible via a small opening on the limestone cliffs. Again, it looked magnificent with towering limestone cliffs. But this time the water was littered with floating leaves and other floating things trapped in the lagoons with nowhere to go. The was also nothing to see once you were in the water except for the eery depth of the lagoons themselves. Third stop was a sandy white beach on some island. It looks great in its desolation. Swimming is out of the question though as it was knee deep all the way from ship to shore. The last stop was at Siete Picados. This is a group of 7 islets surrounded by corals. Sadly, quite a lot of the corals were dead but nevertheless, we were able to snorkel around and look at some interesting corals, fishes, and other reef dwellers.

It was on the second day when things got more exciting, altough not right away. A friend and I went diving the idea of which is exciting enough by itself. However, we were not allowed to take the first dive, Irako, due to the extreme depth (40m) for our experience. So we had to sit out the dive. After waiting for the first dive to end, lunch, and a lengthy rest for digesting all the food as well as for allowing those who dived sufficient time to off-gas, we dived Kogyu Maru, the second wreck. It was pretty huge and also quite deep (35m) so we didn’t have enough time and air to go slower and examine things closely. I did see some interesting things like the bulldozer, the truck, construction materials (“funny stones” as the divemaster referred to them), and some angel fishes that were swimming oriented to the deck. After surfacing and taking a decidedly shorter surface interval than for the first dive it was on to the third wreck, the East Tangat wreck. The wreck is that of a gunboat lying with it’s bow under 7m of water and its stern under 20m of water. Altough, supposedly less challenging than the previous dives of the day, I actually enjoyed this dive more. It was my second wreck dive so I was more adjusted and relaxed. It was also much shallower and smaller so we were are able go around the wreck around three times. This allowed me to take a better look at the wreck and appreciate it more.

The one thing I didn’t like about the trip was the resort where we stayed and ate (though I have no complaints with the affiliated dive shop which has a nice and helpful staff). The staff could have been more welcoming and accomodating. As it was, the people we dived with were more hospitable. Perhaps the staff was just too jaded with all the tourists coming and going.

Dive and Trek, Anilao, Batangas

I joined Ren’s party for scuba diving this weekend. Again, this is another one of those after a long long time things. The last dive I had before this was December ’04. At the rate I’m diving, I’m going to be a perpetual newbie.

We went to Dive and Trek, which is the first time I’ve gone and stayed in that resort. The resort is pretty spacious and provide reasonably nice food but they don’t provide towels for day dive guests. No towels for day dive guests?!? Come on! Good thing I had packed my trusty MSR PackTowl, so it wasn’t too much of an inconvenience.

The resort is known for its house reef and the giant clams inhabiting it and it is where we did our first two dives. It didn’t disappoint: The viz was great and I saw a couple of giant clams. I even saw a huge titan trigger fish on the second dive. On the third dive, we left the house reef behind and dived around the Ligpo Island reef where I saw the usual reef dwellers. I also saw three giant jacks which startled me when they suddenly appeared from out of the blue.

All in all a great weekend for a dive.