Day 55, Sunday 19 Feb 2012, Cebu – Malapascua.

Today I am off to Malapascua Island, which is about thirty minutes by boat off the northern tip of Cebu Island, so I need to catch a bus to Maya to get the boat. Have heard the road is rough !

Another reasonable sleep, this is almost becoming habit forming ! up at 7.00 and packed ready to go, got a coffee in the hotel restaurant but skipped breakfast as I don’t like to eat and drink too much before a long bus ride, you just never know! I got a cab to the long distance North Terminal and as we approached we saw the Maya bus leaving so I jumped on board, pack and all. For about five minutes I had a seat for the pack too…

I caught one of the local non-air-conned buses, it was only a four ride so I had heaps of time and I knew the bus would stop every few minutes  and it was about time I went local. With all the windows open it was as cool as the air-con busses anyway, except when we were stopped waiting in a bus terminal about half way, then it got really warm! The journey was long, though not too uncomfortable considering I had my pack on my lap the whole way, the scenery was interesting with a good mix of stunning beach views, small villages and hill towns.

The Philippines are a lot cleaner and tidier than Malaysia, though appear to be significantly poorer, you can see where infrastructure had been built  20-30 years ago before the worst of the corruption set in and things stated to decline. The bus arrived at the wharf in Maya just after 12.00 and I was soon joined by a Canadian couple and a couple of Canadians and we waited on the bangka (outrigger boat) for it to fill up before departing to the island.

I had my accommodation booked at Ocean Vida resort for four nights, but none of the others had anything arranged. I got talking to the two Canadian guys, Mike and Matt and Mike is considering Myanmar as well so we are going to catch up later and discuss a possible joint trip. Once checked in I spent a couple of hours wandering around bits of the island and looking for a good deal on dives. The island is (I am led to believe) about four and half kms in circumference, though that doesn’t seem right, feels bigger. On Bounty Beach there are a number of resorts and the place has a diving focus so lots of dive shops. The Island has a large indigenous population as well and I got rather lost wandering around the interior as it is a warren of twisty sand paths. There is a massive contrast between the local village and the resorts that back onto them though and there are a lot of armed guards walking around the resort areas. Then again there are armed guards all over the places I have been in the Philippines – I got searched by an armed guard going into the mall yesterday!

One of the primary dives at Malapascua, and the reason for its popularity, is an early morning (5.00 am !) dive to see thresher sharks, one of the few places in the world to do this. Unfortunately they are generally found around the 25-30 metre depth and my open water cert only allows dives to 18 metres. After some pondering and counting of beans I have decided to do a PADI Advanced Open Water Cert. The course includes five dives, one of which is a deep dive, which can be the thresher shark dive. It costs a bit more than individual dives but means I get my advanced cert and I can pretty much dive anywhere. So tomorrow I do my first dive, which will be visually dull, but probably fun as I learn a bit more about buoyancy. Tonight I have to study !

I caught up with Mike and Matt over an early dinner at my hotel bar, they are staying somewhere else, and then I went and snapped a couple of sunset shots and went to my room to internet, listen to music and study ! Early night and lucky no TV. My room is pretty cool by the way 🙂

Going to start educating you music illiterates, if I remember, each post with some musical awesomeness, mostly from New Zealand, but whatever takes my fancy and likely to be what I am listening too. Will start with a NZ band.

Jakob, from Napier. One of the worlds best instrumental post-rock bands, they have been around for just over 10 years but do not release a lot of material, recording a much anticipated new album at the moment. This track “I’m on your side” is off the wonderful subset of sets album – my favourite Jakob recording.

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Wannabe writer and photographer. Interested in travel and place. From Auckland, New Zealand.