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More diving in the Philippines

A last week end with the friends in Auckland is just what the doctor ordered. More time getting to know or reacquaint myself with great people, another shift in the pasta and risotto kitchen and all together a real good time.

Time to leave has come but not before a last farewell coffee with Arantxa and Saray who blows me away with a lovely gift of a green stone pendant. Somehow I feel that in the little time we spent together we connected at a rather deep level and I hope our paths will meet again in the future. It is friends like this that make life that little more bearable, and I have to admit I am starting to collect a good number of them.

Passing through Gold Coast airport

Off we go, AirAsia is going to take me on a 20 hours, three flights odyssey from Auckland to Manila via Gold Coast in Australia and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Flying medium distance with budget airlines is not great, but being the tight fisted Scot that I am, the temptation of saving one hundred and a bit pounds on the route is just irresistible.

I land at lunch time and instantly realise that the Philippines will be the place where my tan will take off. It’s hot and humid but the sun is out there, with three days in Manila and a whole week in the southern islands there is no doubt I will leave this country tanned and more proficient in my diving.

The trip to the hostel is rather eventful, people speak reason able English, apart from the cab drivers, scams are there, but not overwhelmingly, and the availability of offline mapping proves to be a godsend, as I need to tell the driver which way to take me to my destination.

The hostel appears, at first sight, rather cool. It will prove to be a lot more than that, almost a reason to get to Manila, no doubt helped by the fact that there are no other good reasons to do so. I make contact with Shar, my Philippine friend I met in Delhi,  and a range to see her the following afternoon, the rest of the time I just unwind, Web and generally recover from the twenty hours transfer from Auckland.

I start day two with a trip to Manila, the hostel I actually quite far, but handy for the airport. I do so using a jeepny, no idea of what the spelling is for these hopon-hopoff estate jeep looking minivans. You learn quickly that these are rather fast flowing and impredictable things, you have to roughly know your fare, which you pass in a daisy chain of people to the driver, and you have to be ready to hop off, if the one you have selected veres from your desired course. The good part of it is that you really feel a local and with forty pence you take a ride of fourth minutes to the only thing worth having a look at in Manila, intramuros.

I manage not to get myself ripped off too badly by the pedal guide that takes me around “intramuros”, which is the only thing worth seeing in Manila. The afternoon is spent very relaxingly with my friend Shar. We have lunch and then a coffee, we chat a lot and then I’m on my way back to rhetoric hostel.

The following day is what I like to refer to a web&veg day. I do nothing but forward planning, watch a movie or two and chill out with the other guests in the hostel. In the evening we get into the true soul of the Philippines, karaoke.

Off to the south now, the island of Malapascua where I’m planning to take the next level scuba diving qualifications, and hopefully do a lot more diving.

In Malapascua I had a whale of a time, met a bunch of people and got both my advanced and Nitro qualifications. Higher qualifications means deeper diving, and more things to explore.

And after this week in paradise just the time to spend a day in Bohol. I met Valentina and Christian at the hostel and we went exploring this island together. One day onto a scooter, savouring both natural and man-made experiences. After a visit to the Tarsier reserve and a ride all the way to the Chocolate hills it was time to come test our courage with a ride on a rope 150 metres high.

Finally, not to miss any exerience we had to add a flat tire giving us a chance to see how hospitable locals can be.

And after this week in paradise just the time to spend the last night in the hostel in Manila and then off to the next leg of the Journey; Hong Kong here I come.

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