Friday, 29 April 2011

Whale Rider

On Saturday a friend of mine who I was supposed to meet arrived in Manila. We were trying to figure out our itinerary but we could not decide whether to fly south, or take bus north and if we fly south than where we should fly – Caticlan, Legaspi, Puerta Princessa? In the end we’ve decided for a bus to Legaspi which is an entry point to go to Donsol to free dive with whale sharks – the biggest fish. It reaches up to 13 m and 36 tons. But on the other hand eats only plankton and is not dangerous at all. Huge pet.

We got there on Monday, but somehow did not feel at all like going for a dive that day, so we’ve only signed in i.e. paid fee of 300P and announced that we’re gonna come tomorrow morning. So we’ve been hanging around the whole day. We’ve checked out what’s going on in the city and found out that there are some preparation going on for the Butanding Festival 2011 (Butanding – whale shark) and even came across school kids training choreography for that event.

In the evening we went to Baracuda restaurant where I had the best ever sashimi from Jack fish (whatever that is) and tomato vinegar salad and potatoes and grilled fish (don’t ask me what kind of fish, we just picked something from the huge bowl) and prawns big as tube of a tooth paste. That was more than delicious.

The next day we got up early enough to be on time in Visitors Center to meet up with a guy who we met yesterday during the dinner and who was arranging a group of six people to fill the bangka (Filipino boat) and to reduce rental cost as much as possible.

We got on the Bangka, took snorkeling gear and started to spot whale sharks. Ok in fact we were enjoying the sun and the captain was searching for them for us. But the problem was weather – a little bit cloudy and it was raining in the morning what is not the favorite of whale sharks. We were jumping into the water and then coming back and jumping again. First time I did not see anything. Second time when I dived I saw whale shark 3 times. It was about 8m long but still quite deep. I’m not sure if I saw the whole shape. But when we jumped in for the 3rd time it was impressive. Whale shark – 12m long was swimming just under the surface. I’ve taken a dive and first I saw a lot of fish. I thought to myself – what is it about? I was supposed to watch whale sharks and not fish, I’ve seen fish already. But when I’ve turned my head it got almost scared. Huge head was just in front of me. The biggest head I’ve ever seen. I think I could have touched it. I did not do it as I was running out of air and had to go up. I was diving again and again and swimming along with the whale shark. It was swimming so shallow, its fin was maybe 20 cm under the water. I had to touch it. It was not really allowed to do so, but it was too close not to do it. I could spot all body parts of whale shark: eyes, gills, fins, tail. I should have movie soon where you can see me swimming with the whale shark.

The same day when we were saw sharks we’ve packed and started the journey to Boracay. That was long and adventurous one. I’m not sure if I manage to recall all the means of transport that we come across and all the places where we’ve been. Let me try:
1. Tricycle from GH in Donsol to Donsol city
2. Jeepney from Donsol to Pilar
3. Ferry form Pilar to Masbate
4. Minivan from Masbate to Mandaon. In Mandaon we’ve been sleeping in the worst place I’ve ever been. Small smelly room, no running water, some Filipino couple in the second room with a cock in a box. In fact we were three ppl sharing double bed. We were sweating whole night as it was boiling hot. I don’t recommend that place. Definitelly not. We went there to have some beer in local KTV bar, which except us and one table full of locals was empty, but karaoke was on and all the time there was someone singing.
5. Big Bangka from Mandaon to Estancia. This was really nice, sever hours on the sea.
6. Tricycle in Estancia to bus station.
7. Bus from Estancia to Roxas.
8. Tricycle from Roxas bus station to jeepney terminal
9. Jeepney from Roxas to Sigma (to make it clear jeepeny’s roof)
10. Bus from Sigma to Kalibo
11. Minivan from Kalibo to Caticlan
12. Boat from Caticlan to Boracay. On the boat we met local girl who showed us good and cheap place to stay in Boracay in station 3 (supposing the cheapest area in Boracay)

The best thing about it all is that we never had to wait longer than 30 minutes for the next bus or boat. When we would plan it, it definitely would not work this way, but without a plan, spontaneously it was just perfect timing that we had.
So now I’m in Boracay and actually I’m planning to take some kite boarding classes.

Mt. Mayon. Perfect volcano.

Jeepney ride from Legaspi to Donsol

Donsol. It was reminding me of 4000 Islands in Laos.
Bangka. Traditional Filipino boat, it used to carry whole family from one island to another.

Triple colour flowers

Kids longing for photos

Sun set in Donsol
Mandaon - KTV in local bar

Very cosy room for three in Mandaon

Big bangka from Mandaon to Estancia

Filipino crew and me ;-)

Can u see CR sign? It's Comfort Room - Toilet. In fact it's a hole in the floor.

This picture is taken from the roof of jeepney. It was as packed as this tricycle.

Jeepney's roof ride. Actually it was good to have some roof ride experience, like I had the one riding on the trabant 's roof. Luckily this ride did not end that painfully for me as Trabant ride, where falling down I've twisted my ankle and thumb. Prolly jeepney was slower than 60km/h

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