Firstly, sorry for the lack of bright and interesting pictures but the WiFi is struggling bit.
We have the boat to ourselves again today. As we did yesterday, we will suggest that the afternoon dives are started earlier so that Nanie, our guide, Wendel, our captain, and Jake, our crew, can go home a little earlier. They work so hard, and when it is just us on the boat, it’s nice if we can do something, however small for them.
So without a picture, I shall have to describe the view. Blue sky and flat sea! What else could you ask for. 😄😄
Oh, USER ERROR! WiFi ok. Over quota on the club website. I won’t mention too much that I thought this could be an issue. Either way, it works!!!! Now going back to add the photos over the last couple of days. Also, no excuse for those of you going to the Red Sea soon. Nice to know that the UK government has decided that flights can go into Sharm again. Let’s hope that doesn’t get messed up again.
Dive #21 – Bethlehem
Coral reef sloping down to rubble at about 20-22 metres.
The rumble has such life on it. All of it small but very.beautiful.
It is very easy to get carried away and forget the time. Nanie was aware!
Very many beautiful nudi
Picture taken during the surface interval.
Dive #22 – Olympic
Another dive on rubble and finishing on coral outcrops in the shallows.
Other usual susoects
I have been thinking of Monkey Awards nominations…
Two days ago, I struggled to get a seal on my mask…. Due to my sunglasses getting in the way.
Yesterday, I put the batteries in my strobe the wrong way round.
Today, and by far in the lead… Richard, rolled back off the boat, surfaced, at which point ,Wendel asked if he would like his mask!!
After lunch, a quick turnaround and diving at 2pm.
Dive #23 – Heidi’s point
Always amazes me how we get back to the boat at the end of the dive when there are no landmarks at all.
We saw lots:
Tiny flamboyant cuttlefish
Large flamboyant cuttlefish
Blue ringed octopus (only one blue ring on each cheek)
Skeleton shrimps fighting
A white skeleton shrimp
Bright red frogfish
And we have another contender for monkey…
On the bottom, Richard comes over to me, points at his wrist. Something missing? Computer? Gets spare out of his pocket. Oh no… Error! Can only mean that although his wrist did all of its stops on the previous dive, his tummy did not! Gave him my spare computer. So that’s all good then. Yes, no, exactly.
Dive #24 – Arthur’s Rock
Wow! What an amazing dive site!
Sandy slope with coral outcrops, then going into a rock formation jutting out into the sea, followed by a wall.
A huge turtle (over 4ft)
Lilac frogfish in lilac sponge
Smaller white painted frogfish
Lots of posing nudis
Soft coral shrimps
Another day begins, cockerels signalling that we really should be getting up, I’m sure I heard locals playing basketball outside at 04.30 this morning.It looks like another excellent day is greeting us, flat seas, and little wind.Darrell, Diane, Graham and Sue leave today for Australia so there will be ‘fresh meat’ on the boat today, hopefully they can cope with us.We’ve dived lots of sites but still have lots of sites to dive, the range of diving here is excellent, lots of ‘muck diving’, apparently Anilao is the Muck Diving Capital of the Philippines, as well as all manner of reefs, some with amazing underwater typography such as Kirby’s Rock, Arthur’s Rock, Twin Rocks and Red Rock. I think that if it’s got Rock in the name then there’s going to be some sprctacular underwater scenery.
There’s even a wreck, albeit the wreck of a once floating casino. From the ironwork that’s left I suspect this would have looked like a large floating box of some kind.
Dive 17 Red Rock.
A massive pinnacle that starts at about 5m below the surface and goes down to around 25m. The pinnacle of surrounded by a rubble area full of nudis and shrimps. There are amazing rock formations, all covered with every colour of featherstar known (and some unknown).A large turtle was also seen wandering around the area.Another 80 minute dive, excellent.One slight drama in as much as Jo had a failure on one of her strobes, thankfully this was later tracked down to a hitherto untried ordering of the batteries. This will not be repeated and the traditional approach of doing it the right way remains the method of choice for future dives.Back on board, Wendel (our captain) was catching up on sleep during our surface interval.
Dive 18, a Muck Dive called Gasang near to Red Rock, we drop in on a sandy slope and, as usual, nothing seems to present itself as photographic opportunity for a minute or two, then it starts! In no particular order: Tiger Shrimp, Coleman Shrimp, Seahorse, Grouper, Mantis Shrimp, Cockatoo fish, Moray eels, monster Nudis’s amongst several others. Another epic dive.Today, the boat was ours and ours alone which was nice though we missed having the others on board, the lively banter, and the sweets!
Back to base for a swift lunch and to say goodbye to our antipodean friends as they fly tonight. We will catch up with them soon however on our Bali adventure.Jo and I jump on board for first afternoon dive.
Dive 19 Manit Point.It is difficult to put in to words just hour much colour there is here, a spectacular rocky outcrop on the tip of a point. Absolutely smothered in life of all kinds and so very much colour.Nudis galore and all other critters including a ‘lobster’. A 90+ minute dive in technicolour overload, amazing.We head back to base for a swift got drink before returning to sea for the last dive of the day.
Dive 20, Near Twin Rocks.A most excellent reef bimble as the sun sets, lots of coral outcrops and places to explore.Peacock Mantis Shrimps with eggs seem to be very popular right now! Along with plenty of Nudi and shrimp action. Another most excellent dive.Back on shore, dinner consists of Sisig, which is finely chopped and fried pork (plenty of crackling in there) with chilli, chop suey, fried rice and deep fried Lumpia. The food here is absolutely lovely. We must try to order less.
Another beautiful morning. I could show you a picture from the balcony but currently lying on bed after breakfast and really can’t be bothered to move.
Diving at 8:00, no idea where yet. We shall have to wait to see what the day brings…
So far we have had an excellent time. Good diving and good company.
This is the last diving day for Darral, Dianne, Geoff and Sue. 🙁🙁🙁🙁
They have been great company but go back to Aussie tomorrow. Their temperature at home is hotter than it is here. I am sure the same can’t be the same for us.
I seem to be getting on okay with the new camera. Trying different diopters, stacking them and going without on last night’s night dive. Hoping for some very nicely positioned critters today, so that I can try out some different lighting.
Richard is currently reviewing his photos! I know, in the past that has been my job, but when he takes so many more photos that me, I think it is only fair.Here’s a picture of the progress.
Oh, and I also got the balcony shot!
So, he can do it!😄😄
Dive #13 Aqua Garden
Excellent dive. Sandy slope.We saw:
Here are some photos from our surface interval…
Dive #14 Sun View
Another excellent dive. So much to see.
Sandy slope and reef with soft corals at the end. water was soooooo warm. Didn’t want to get out!
Camera going well.
After lunch we go diving again!
Dive #15 Manit School
Sloping coral reef and sand.
A huge cuttlefish about 2 feet long
Lots of things to take pictures of
Dive #16 Saim Sum
Tiny baby painted frogfish (1cm)
Tiny orange frogfish (0.5 cm)
So far so good, up a little early today and just spent an hour on the balcony listening to the cockerels again!
It’s light now the sea is flat and only a slight suggestion of air movement.
No idea where we are going today though I feel confident that water will be involved.
New to the resort this year are a series of motivational though diving related signs, you know the type, seize the day and that kind of thing.I shall endeavour to include some in the blog, here is today’s:Inspirational indeed, more to follow.In the way out to the first dive:Dive #9, Daryl Laut.This is ‘the wreck’ which is the remains of an old floating casino. Lots of nudis and a lot of steel work which is covered with corals (soft and hard) as well as all sorts of life.
Dive #10, Sombrero.This is a large area hiding behind an island and consists mostly of hard corals, all of which are covered in all sorts of life. The area is also absolutely full of fish.At 88 minutes, our longest dive so far.
Back for lunch, I had burger and fries (love the local food) whilst Jo had B.L.T.
Back to the room for a swift look at some pictures and some R&R before the three o’clock dive. Perhaps I’ll just take in the view for a moment:Ok view taken!
Dive #11, Heidi’s Point, this ended up being fairly spectacular. A sandy slope with apparently nothing to see, well, morning except for frog fish, nudibranch, seahorse, flamboyant cuttle fish and all manner of shrimps and crabs. It was a little breezy this afternoon with a bit of wave action at the surface but lovely underneath.
We head back for a mug of hot chocolate in the pool. Jo asked asked for green tea so I made a cup of tea using a tea bag from the green box. Apparently this was not what was ordered, I had made mint tea as it turns out!Before long we are back in for the night dive.
Dive #12, vivyra?
Another sandy slope with not much to see expect nudis, crabs, shrimps and all the usual night time fodder.
Back on dry land it’s time for tea. We have just enough time for a swift Red Horse and a rum based ginger cocktail, lovely.
For tea, it turns out that we had over ordered, that’s so not liked us! Deep fried lumpia, special fried rice, pork sisig and sweet & sour chicken, all very lovely.
On to our second day of diving.
Yesterday was great. First-time in the water with my new camera.
Got some in focus shots. So far so good.Going to the other Island this morning.
Dive 5 – Coconut PointLittle bit of current. Another muck dive on a sandy slope.
Lots and of shrimps and lots of frogfish.
Shaun the sheep nudis.Feel like I am getting to grips with the camera.
Dive 6 – Secret BayIt would appear that I used the battery up on the previous dive. Short battery life isn’t something that I am used to.
Tried out my new +6 glasses on this dive. Worked really well. could see a lot of detail. Didn’t magnify as much as above water, but still very good.
We saw a couple of clean white seahorses.
Richard got viciously attacked by a fire urchin just for putting his knee on it. Unfair? perhaps not.Lots of shrimps and nudis.
Lovely dive! Shame about the battery!
BLT and club Sandwich for lunch with a side order of Coleslaw.
Dive 7 – House Reef
Stacked my diopters for this dive. added the +5 to the +10. Getting results closer to my old 105mm lense with the +10. it makes taking the photos harder but I think that it will be worth while.
Lots of critters on this dive to take photos of. Slugs, shrimps, lovely tiny bright red shrimp with googly eyes in a hole.
A dip in the pool with hot chocolate and a cup of tea before the night dive.
Here is a picture of the sunset…
Dive 8 – Secret Bay Night Dive
Oh dear +15 diopters are not good in the dark. Took a nice close up picture of a tiny octopus but that was about it.
Richard spent 10-15 mins with two squid. Lovely pictures. Brilliant to see. They weren’t budging, even Richard couldn’t scare then off.
Followed by tea, getting pictures of the camera, and sleep.
Here is a picture of our room door. Frogfish room.
After what can only be described as an excellent nights sleep I woke up predictably early (though only 30 minutes ahead of my alarm) to the sound of the local cockerels who were all trying to make their presence felt. They succeeded.
I carefully negotiated the bathroom (which is actually one of those which is really only a lean-to on the back of the main room) and to my absolute relief there were no signs of scorpions, giant killer centipedes or even worse…. Spiders!).
Time to venture out on to the balcony with coffee and Oreos in hand.
Still not quite light yet, the sun is yet to appear but light enough to tell that all appears well, no rollers on the beach, no gale force winds.
I suspect we shall be diving then.
We shall decend to breakfast in a while.
We are back in the same room that we had the very first time we came, no need for oxygen masks or a base camp half way up as it is but a handful of steps between us and the main centre of activity (ok, it might be 20 or 30 steps but not the 128 we had last time we came!).
Breakfast, more camera prep and then that thing we came here for, hurrah!
One point to note, since I started writing this note the sky has started to take on a bit of an orange hue. Either there has been some catastrophe to the east (forest fire, nuclear attack etc) or the sun is preparing to show itself, I shall report back with more detail on that when available.
I’m pleased to announce that breakfast was a total success, cameras are mostly together and we’re now firmly in the pre dive chat phase.
Before long and without much of a briefing (we had all dived the proposed sites before) we are off. We had around the corner and along the coast for 5 minutes to arrive at Saim Sim, a sandy slope much dive where we are greeted with all kinds of octopus, frog fish, shrimps, cuttle fish and squid.
A lovely dive in 28 degrees which ended up lasting over 80 minutes.
Back on board for coffee and Oreos and the obligotry post dive banter.
We make our way to the second site which is called Bubbles. This site is known for the continuous flow of bubbles from the sea bed as well as the very hot rocks under the sand. This is caused by flowing magma only inches below the sea bed which is about to errupt at any time. Fortunately for us this didn’t happen during the dive, phew!!!!
Now then, a couple of monkey moments were witnessed during this dive. The first one being that Jo pointed out that we had both forgotten to put the diffusers on our strobes. The second being that I thought I noticed something odd about Jo’s computer. I can only think that she had noticed too because when I went to look at it, she hid it from my gaze. I finally got to see that it was still set on 21% and not the 32% that we were using.
Further investigation into this Faux Pas confirmed that it was in fact not an isolated incident which explained the unexpected 9 minutes of deco that I suddenly accumulated- oops.
Rest assured that appropriate recalibration has now been performed.
Back on dry land for a swift shower then lunch and now back to the room for some R&R before the next dive at three.
The afternoon dive (a most excellent muck dive down to 25m on a sandy bed) was followed by quick dip in the pool and then back out for the night dive over at Heidi’s point. There was plenty to see including frog fish, shrimps, a tiny blue ringed octopus and a well positioned nudi ( who doesn’t like s well positioned nudi?).
One of the frog fish was enjoying a feeding frenzy which was enhanced when we shone a light on it, tiny fish and other stuff everywhere in the water, the frog fish appeared very happy, we were bombarded by the same stuff from every angle.
Back for dinner consisting and a drink or two followed by camera prep, perhaps I’ll do that in a different order tomorrow…
The trip…Up early. Not because we had an early flight, just up early. Richard awoke at 3:30, did work stuff whilst I had three more hours in bed, that was early for me.
So, what do most people do in the three hours between getting up and being picked up by the taxi to go on holiday? Haircut? Hmmm? Richard feels that last week’s grade 1 needs a further trim. There was me thinking I might get a second coat of nail varnish on my toes….
Toe nails done too!
Very relaxed here now.
Picked up on time by Ibo, our trusty but abusive taxi driver. Easy trip to Gatwick, Richard got the abuse and I hid in the back.
Check-in at the Emirates desk was interesting. Couple in front of us had four bags to check in, one of which was over the 32kg allowance.
This gave the nosey people in the queue (that’s us that is) chance to see what was in their bag.
I must say we were shocked!
The huge bag was full of Tunnocks wafers and Mcvities chocolate digestives. If you hear that there is a shortage, we know who caused it!
At the Red Lion for a drink and lunch.
Looks like one of us is more thirsty than the other….
Guess which one?
First flight was good. Six and a half hours. Food was good, as was my entertainment. Richard watched Hustle (rubbish), some other film with Greg Kinear (by the way, he is my cousin’s brother-in-law), a Johnny Depp film with Richard in the title and also a film called Silent something or other. As he can’t remember the names of any of them, I am not sure that we can recommend them.
I watched, Men in Black International (good), Aladdin (better)and Isn’t it Romantic? (The best, very very funny).
By the way, I have learnt something on this flight that I feel that I should share….
Unicorn hoods with built in neck pillows should NOT be worn by men, regardless of age.
In fact they should not be worn in public by any one over the age of ten!
It does not matter that your girlfriend/wife tells you it’s cutsy because she obviously thought so as she had a matching one.
It is NOT!
You look like an idiot!
If the woman sat behind you on the plane was allowed to carry matches on board she would have tested if said unicorn hood was flame retardant!
View from my seat…
The second flight was late to leave as someone was removed from the plane! No idea who. They shouldn’t leave us hanging like that! We want to know what happened. I suppose, at least it wasn’t a British woman that was seen setting light to a unicorn hood. Anyway, as the passenger was removed, their baggage also had the be removed. It was, of course, the one at the back! So we left about an hour or so late but still got to Manila on time, thanks you favourable winds.
(I do have a couple of stories concerning incidents on planes including the guy sitting next to me taking his Crocodile Dundee knife out and putting it on the table in front of him, a full on cat fight and a man being removed from a plane by a full SWAT team. Can’t beat Jen’s hijack, flooding, fire story but still quite impressive.)
Getting back to the trip, I, possibly we, would say that my vegan meals were nicer than Richard’s standard ones.
Couple of films, Godzilla (just another Godzilla film) and Alita: Battle Angel (thoroughly enjoyable). I’m not sure what Richard watched, but then again I don’t think he is sure what he watched either. Think he might have spent more time choosing than watching.
Once landed, it took an age to get the baggage, then we had a very quick rendezvous with Ralf from Germany before settling in the taxi for journey to the resort. Quicker than normal, only gridlocked we saw, was as we exited the airport and after that it was straight through.
As the resort has no road access we stopped in an area a little up the coast and were then collected by boat. Darryl, our Aussie friend, was waiting for us. Big hugs all round, although didn’t hug him too tight as he had surgery on his spine in the summer. Didn’t want to undo all the good work. Anyone who has had a hug from Richard knows that it can be a bit like a visit to the chiropractor.
Five minutes down the coast and we arrive, met by the lovely Dianne, Geoff, Dianne’s brother and Sue, his wife.Here’s a picture of us, Dave, the big boss and welcome drinks. Not sure what Richard was doing…
Turns out Darryl wanted to surprise us like we surprised them last year. His surprise was to get us stopped by the police, and put in the back of the cop car where he would be.
Just a smidge pleased that he wasn’t able to sort this out!!
Day finished by tea (oh, the coleslaw here is amazing), a little camera work, a Red Horse and some blogging.
It has been a long day. About 32 hours for me.
Tomorrow? Breakfast at half six and first dive at eight.
Testing testing 1 2 3, are you recieving over?
Excitement mounting here as final checks are performed prior to our departure in the morning.
Baggage packed, check
Baggage weighed, check
Under the limit, check
Weatherspoons app updated, check
Glass of wine, check
All systems nominal, Anilao here we come!
So that was it. An epic holiday but now it is time to come home.
Up at 4.00 to finish the packing, dive stuff all dry now.
We are collected in a minibus at five, and waved our goodbyes to Phil and Annalyn.
The leaving time and ferry had been discussed plenty in the previous weeks. We did, however, opt for an earlier ferry to ensure that Barry and Judy make it to their flight to Manila with time to spare. They are flying an hour or so before us.
We are passing through paddy fields, interspersed with little towns where every shop seems to sell the same stuff.
We spotted a very happy water buffalo, which had been rolling about in mud. It was completely covered head to toe.
After about and hour and a half we stopped for a wee break where our driver disappeared. He shortly returned with delicious hot sweet rolls for us. Top man!
Made it to the ferry terminal in very good time, only two and a half hours.
So a little time to wait.
An interesting advert on the telly. Wonder if it will catch on at home.
Also, the toilets here come with instructions…
We passed the time by photo bombing a couple of young Chinese (?) ladies selfies. I know childish, but it made us laugh, and them too.
Now, it’s here…
Time to find our seat in business class…
And then choose a different one…
I slept, and possibly snored, for a bit whilst Richard spotted dolphins.
We were collected and transported to the airport where we said our goodbyes to Barry and Judy. We come home. They have another two weeks.
At the new airport for the first time. It’s really nice and spacious.
First in the queue for check-in. Unfortunately, check-in is not open yet.
Through security and now sitting in Burger King. Richard happened to mention that he worked for SSP, the company who run Burger King, in London. Since we have sat down, they have been over, to give us extra mayo and tomato sauce, then again with extra serviettes, and then with tooth picks. Either they think we are here to assess them or they think we are really messy eaters. I’ll let you decide…
I could swear that they stood to attention when we left.
Having a wander around the airport, it is very pretty. So I took a couple of pictures.
We have this whole area to ourselves.
The airport is so quiet.
Plane has arrived, so that’s nice…
Looking hopeful that we will make our tight connection. Only an hour and a half between landing and next take off.
Delayed! Oh no!
The flight was completely fine. On first leg into Clark International was easy. I watched Bumblebee which took up the flight and the stop. Next I watched An Old Man with a Gun. Then sleep for the next seven hours.
We arrive at Dubai, 15 mins early. Off the plane at 1:15 and on the next plane by 2:00. We didn’t hang around and the transfer included a bus and a train. Thank goodness for clear signage at Dubai airport.
Now sitting on an Airbus A380, got to love this plane. Got my own storage area.
Also, up this end of the plane the toilets are huge.
Watched an Agatha Christie film and then Girl in a Spider’s Web. Then slept some more.
Gatwick airport was manic! So many people. Passport control was super quick and baggage reclaim was only about 20 mins.
With an efficient pick up by Ebo, we were door to door in 37 hours.
Here we are, our last days diving on what has been an epic adventure and wonderful holiday.
The plan is to cross the bay to dive Napantao MPA, probably North and South reefs, time and tide will tell. Then probably something local in the afternoon then wash and dry the kit for the journey home. Currently our no fly time suggests that we’ll be done with off gassing at least two hours before takeoff, this is a good thing!
Breakfast will be eggs, bacon and toast (love the local cuisine).
It has been epic, we’ve dived all the sites we wanted to, had a couple of away trips with BBQ on board including an epic circumnavigation of Panaon Island with diving along the way and met lovely people from all over the world (France, China, Thailand, Finland as and Australia). We’ve seen the smallest critters and the largest fish (yes, we have pictures), eaten lovely food from SBSR and Alma & Jerry’s and done lots of lovely diving.
Special mention and many thanks to our guides Dave, Ian and Pedro, the boat captains Puloy and Greg and all their crew including Arman and Arwin, the shore staff including May, Ann, Raia and Annalyn.
Here is how it’s looking this morning.
In the distance, Napantao MPA, our dive destination.
On the way across we see a large pod of dolphins in the distance and then have a close encounter with a smaller pod of pilot whales.
First dive ended up starting at the southern end of the South wall with a little current to fight near the surface then going with it for the rest of the dive.
It ended up being a most magnificent dive ending up at the top of the reef then back to the boat some 70 minutes after submerging.
Snaps from this mornings trip.
during there surface interval we enjoy coffee, frooties and fresh pineapple. The second dive was on Napantao North wall from North to South and then back north again along the top. With the current at the start and with the current at the end. Another most excellent 70 minute dive.
Back to base for lunch consisting of BLT and Singapore pork (spicy), which was just lovely.
We now have an hour before what is to be the last dive of the trip 😪, perhaps Max Climax Wall, perhaps Baluarte, only time will tell. One thing for sure is that there will be very few of us on the boat as a lot of the other guests only do the two morning dives each day.
The tide was running, slightly more than I predicted when I convinced Jo to swim out to the boat with me. Consequently we ended getting dragged out hanging on the back of the boat and then moved up to the ladder in order to get on board.
The dive was on Baluarte and having jumped from the boat we for out on the shore having had an excellent last dive.
Back to base and everything is pulled apart, washed and dried ready for packing 😪
We’ve paid the bill, had a bottle of Red Horse and done a little packing.
Now we’re at Alma and Jerry’s for the last supper 😪, what’s slightly worse is that they are out of Red Horse, so it’s pilsner for me.
Back to our room we pack a bit, set our alarms and wait for the morning!