Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Dumaguete and Diving Apo Island

Had a 4 day weekend this past weekend. No, not for the US Thanksgiving, but I'll take it anyway. I figured that was enough time for a proper trip out to somewhere more exciting than around the neighbourhood and luck would have it that I have a friend not too far away in Dumaguete.
So I left early Friday morning from here in Iloilo first for a quick 1 1/2 hr ferry ride to Bacolod on Negros (the next island over to the southeast) and a 7 hour bus ride from there to Dumaguete. By the time I had waited for all the transport connections and got there it was a little over 11 hrs. My longest travel day in a long time. I think I'm getting old or something, we used to do those a couple times a week... A few interesting things happened on the ride, as is quite usual when travelling alone. The first is kind of strange but worth mentioning as it was a first for me. I had a half-retarded beggar lady of unidentifiable age kiss me on the cheek after I refused to give her money. I have never been kissed by a beggar before (and you'd think that after all the millions I've seen this would've happened sooner somehow) and the locals sitting behind me thought it was funny as hell.
The second was that a university student sitting next to me toward the end has invited me to come as a guest speaker to his class and say something comparative about southeast Asian cultures since I've seen so many. It's in Dumaguete so too far away to pursue seriously but it was an interesting thought...
In Dumaguete I was able to stay with Nicole, a co-Divemaster from Koh Tao. She's 50 and from Alaska originally with tons of diving experience. Very, very interesting person to talk to. If you think I've had an interesting life.... Anyway, back in Thailand we'd been talking and had more or less decided that the Philippines was a better country (even though she hadn't been here before) and we swore we'd meet up and dive together if we both ended up here. She's now trying to work her way into a job with a small dive resort in the area and so I decided to come see how things were going.
Dumaguete is one of the top diving areas in the country because of several good sites nearby, including Apo Island. I dove Sat and Sun, 3 dives each day and while it was expensive (1/2 months salary in the end) it was also the best diving I have ever done. I think I saw more species of fish in one dive there than I did in over 100 dives in Koh Tao. Seriously. The difference is amazing. I knew from diving in Bohol before that the diving was good here, but to come back as an experienced Divemaster and actually have a real eye and appreciation for the site makes such a huge difference in the enjoyment too. It's not even the best time of year for visibility and sightings of some species, but it was still great. 5 of the 6 dives were over an hour long too, as the dive profile usually followed a slope or wall at just over 20m for a while and then ended at 3-4m on top for a long look at the corals. I did get down to 38m looking for sharks (there were none though) and still got an hour dive out of it. But maybe the biggest and best difference of all was that there was only 6 or 7 of us diving and even if there were other small dive boats in the area, we never saw any other divers. To have it all to yourself, compared to hundreds on Koh Tao just does not compare at all.
I then spent all day Monday coming back and was totally exhausted Tuesday in class. A handful of students have just left so it is really quiet here right now. I just can't wait to go diving again during Christmas. I have my flights booked for Palawan already :)


At 10:22 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Ammon,
The diving sounded amazing, and made me jealous of your time to dive. Of course it would take a huge amount of lead to get my fat arse to the bottom. LOL. Not to mention that I am an air pig and always have to dive with dual tanks, just stay down as long as the rest.
Loved your rant, it is so true about the little seemingly inconsequential things that become a tradition and therefore embeded in stone and difficult to change. You do have to admit, some of your travels have been to fairly dirty areas... open sewers, and garbage everywhere, your immune system is so stoked it takes on most things. You have got to go to Korea I think to get a feel for the country and it's people, just like all the other countries. But I think OCD is a national policy. LOL
Of course this from the guy who uses OCD for fun and profit.
Heard breifly from your Dad, something about being in Holland, tried to tell me the weather was great, but with family in Ireland, I watch the weather there pretty close. I am hopeing it improves this next year, they have had three bad years there on the farms.
I'm working straight through from Christmas to new years so will be thinking of you diving with jealousy.
What ever happened to the course you took?

Take care my freind,
Love and Big Bear Hugs
The Bear

At 5:34 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey I hope you're no where near the volcano..... but knowing you, you're going to get a closer look.


At 2:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


Hope you're okay, it has been awhile.



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