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Entries about snorkeling

Day 57- 60: "No hurling on the shell dude, just waxed it!"

Turtles of Apo Island, Dumaguete, Oslob & Ferry to Bohol!


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29th January- Tan Awan to Dumaguete
From what we could work out there was only one bus a day from Oslob to Dumaguete that ran through Tan Awan. Our plan was to get the bus to stop and jump on. Estimating what time it would arrive we were waiting on the side of the road in the light rain hoping to see a bus. Then a bus did pull up saying Dulaguette on. When we asked if he was going to Dumaguete we were told it only went to the port not our destination. So we didn't board the bus and waited a few more minutes before concluding that bus was probably the one we wanted but something must have gotten lost in communication although we still have no idea if it was or not. We that hope seemingly now out the window it appeared our only option would be to grab a trike to the port and try to board the ferry ourselves from there.

Having haggled with the driver for a reasonable price for the 20 minute drive to the port and the little metal cage attached to his rather rickety bike rammed full of us and all our bags we were on the way. His bike definitely struggled under the 55kg of luggage and us with it wheezing up the hills. There were moments we were unsure if it would get us there but somehow it did and we boarded the short ferry with little issue. Once the other side we grabbed yet another trike road, after deciding against what would have been a 20 minute stroll from the bus stop, and checked into our hostel. With the heat beating down outside we were thankful that we paid the small amount extra for a room with air con.

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Once settled in we headed for a tour of Dumaguete stopping for lunch at McDonald's (you know to compare to other countries and to compare to Jollibee, the Asian equivalent) and finding the start point for our Apo Island snorkel tomorrow. Apo Island is a small volcanic island located at the southeastern tip of Negros Oriental. Its surrounding marine habitat is a marine preserve, with about 400 species of corals and 650 species of fish. It’s also a popular sighting spot for sea turtles! Something we have been hoping for our whole trip and the main reason we trekked out this way. Needless to say we were very excited. In stark contast to the whale sharks, Apo Island is also one of the best eco-tourism sites in the Philippines. It’s one of the few places to create a balance between tourism and conservation.

We both like the look of Dumaguete more than the other places we had seen so far in the Philippines. It has much more going on than Tan Awan but not as much pollution as Manilla. With blog updated and snacks consumed we headed to the hostels rooftop bar for dinner and drinks. The drinks are so cheap here that we nearly ordered two cocktail pitchers assuming that the price reflected just a glass. The bar was lovely; sprinkled with fairy lights and a good buzz about the place. The food was some of the best we have eaten here but the name of the dish escapes me.

As we were finishing up dinner the hostel owner came and sat with us. As we got chatting we learned a lot about her life and the bittersweet story of how the Antwet hostel came about after the loss of a close friend in London made her decide to live her life and do something she enjoyed before it's too late. I think we can both relate to that and it is a big driver behind our trip. We also came to learn that during her time in London she actually lived in Sutton, about a 10 minute walk away from our flat. There is nothing like traveling to make you see contrastingly how massive the world is yet how small it can also feel. She also owned a little puppy that we were both more than happy to keep occupied.

During our conversation another girl staying at the hostel came up with a glass of beer for our new friend to drink and shouted Tagay! We were informed that Tagay is actually the shot of drink you are supposed to chug in a Tagayan session. In a tagayan, a glass is shared by the members of the drinking group and the tangero is the assigned person to refill and pass around the tagay. You will know it’s your turn to chug the tagay when the tangero shouts “Tagay!” and pass you the shared glass. The moral behind this is "my drink is your drink" and although you can't afford to drink tonight I still want you to join in and share my drink! We love learning little cultural traditions like and somehow we got roped into the session.

This is one of the first hostels whereby we have really interacted and connected with other travelers. One of the main reasons for this is probably to do with the beer being so expensive in our previous countries and meeting up with people we already knew there. The tangero (Amanda, a South African currently living in China... We think she was clear from the infection) seemes to want us to catch up as quickly as possibly as it seemed to be our turn pretty much every round. Lubricated up we got chatting to people from all over the world; America, Sweden, the Philippines, and China to name a few. Time just flew and as the beer was around 7% we were both pretty drunk.

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30th January- Turtles & Hangovers
This and the 12am bedtime is not something that helped the next morning when we needed to be at the meet point for 6.30am. Both feeling a little tender we headed out, putting on a brave face for the turtles. The sea was pretty rough and was playing havoc with our sensitive tummies. The first snorkel spot felt like a mission as the waves crashed over us and made us both feel even worse. We luckily got to witness two turtles among the most colourful coral we had seen so far. However we were both too conscious about not throwing up to fully enjoy the experience. We did both in fact embarrassingly throw up in the water We felt like silly naïve teenagers and were a little annoyed at ourselves.

Luckily however there were two more snorkel spots. This time we both opted for life jackets and held on to the ring being pulled by the guides. It was a lazy way and something we both wouldn't normally do but needed, to limit the affects of the waves. We saw two more tutles and they were just amazing. So majestic. So beautiful. So awesome. The guides were great at spotting them and largely they were in really shallow waters, except for one who hid under a rock. But the guide took our camera and swan down to get us some amazing pictures.

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After lunch it was time for another spot. Iz decided to stay on the boat this time. I was feeling better and hungry for more tutles. This snorkel was the best of the day. We saw two more tutles and these were both swimming around more activitly than the others. They swam so close to you. It really was unbelievable and everything I hoped for. One, who I have named Archie, came right up to me and stared me in the face before gliding off. The guide with camara in have got some incredible photos to help me remember the moment. I just wish Iz could have also shared it with me. The snorkeling in general was some of the best we have done. So many diverse fish and beautiful colours, yet they do not show on the go pro so will have to stay in our memories. Although a shame we can't fully share what we saw I kind of like that you had to be there to witness the full beauty.

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We even found Nemo:

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I spent the whole afternoon with a massive smile on my face. Just thinking of the turtles makes me happy. I only wanted to see one. I got to see 6 up really close. Plus there was only me, another guy and the guide for the last two. I could have stayed swimming with them all day.

Back at the hostel we decided to skip the bar to avoid a repeat of last night. Instead we ordered takeaway in, a Turkish style wrap, which came to the total price of £2. I will stop going on about how cheap everything is but it is very much a novelty at the moment.

31st January- Brief stopover in Oslob
With a much needed early night and late in lay in behind us it was time to head back to the port for our onwards bus journey to Oslob. This is in preparation for the booked ferry from there to Bohol. Oslob although only 15 minutes up the road is much nicer than tan-awan. On our walk we were surrounded by streams of school kids all of who wanted to say hi to us. It was a little strange, we were like celebrities. We had experienced it on a smaller scale elsewhere but here it was intense. But all were friendly enough. After escaping we enjoyed a relaxed sunset as we tried to work out what the locals were doing. They appeared to be practicing some dance to an annoying song that was played on repeat. Once we didn't listen to the song anymore we went in hunt of food. Having had an upset tummy I went with a sweet and sour chicken I knew. Iz being more adventures tried another local dish but as we haven't been eating as much here, due to the heat, time and convenience, she could only manage half of it.

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1st February- Arrival in Bohol... Eventually
We had checked out the port location the day before which in the relenting heat with our bags on we were thankful of. As getting lost in these conditions is a sure fire way for frustration to arise. Our boat was due to sail at 11.30am and we were on board by 11am. After a little boat ride out to the larger ship. Yet for some reason we did set off until around 1.15pm. We were told it was because the coast guard hadn't approved the boat to go yet. The same happened with our Apo tour. They seem to work on their own time and are in no hurry despite the planned schedule. Due to the choppy sea the journey also took longer than the promised 90 minutes and we only got off the boat around 3.10pm. By the time we got our bags and were shuffled into these vans that were conveniently parked there it was 3.30pm. We didn't wish to pay the extortionate 400 peso's they were requesting for the 20 minute journey but with little choice and running low on time we sucked it up. Unhelpfully during the boat journey the paddle board company had advised that our evening planned activity would depart 1 hour early! This made us both a little stressed as after dropping off other passengers and the driver arguing for around 20 minutes with the security outside one of the group's accomodation we knew there was no chance of us having time to hire bikes and hot tail it over to the start point. Luckily they allowed us to rearrange but this didn't eradicate the frustration.

After checking into our accommodation we planned out the next few days and located places to rent bikes before heading to satisfy our hunger at afried chicken restaurant with decent reviews (both traveler and tourist having not eaten all day. After a little wander to gain our bearings it was bedtime in preparation for a full on day tomorrow.

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Posted by Bears on Tour 00:03 Archived in Philippines Tagged turtles philippines snorkeling ferry bohol oslob dumaguete apo_island Comments (0)

Day 42- 44 - Wildlife, Worry & Whitsunday!


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14 January 2020- Wildlife
After a hectic few days on Fraser we took the day fairly easy; starting off by rearranging our bags and charging devices, this has now become common practice on check out day. Once satisfied we headed to check out Noosa National Park in search of the Fairy Pools and keeping our fingers crossed for Koalas!

Our wildlife hunt started well with us spotting a school of dolphins mere minutes into our walk. This was the first time either of us could recall seeing these in the wild. There were between 6-8 dolphins swimming not too far from shore and we tracked their progress as we trekked along the coastline. Well this was until a large group of people starring at a tree distracted us. Matt (our Fraser guide) had told us this was a popular spot for kaola spotting so we got excited. After about 10 minutes glaring at the tree tops without seeing anything I noticed a pair of fluffy ears poking out into the skyline. It was a little napping kaola!! I couldn't believe it. We had heard that it was rare to see kaolas in the wild and after all the bush fires and the fact we were not going into the forrest we kind of resigned ourselves to the fact we wouldn't see one outside a sanctuary. But here he was! I've no idea how the first person saw him as he was so well camouflaged into the trees but I was so happy to see his little outline and we stopped for around 25 minutes to just gawk at him. Feeling chuffed we gave up our prime viewing spot to locate the Fairy Pools.

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The weather was really random with rain spells interrupting a really sunny and hot day. We stumbled across the pools during one of these rainy spells. While I'm sure the weather didn't help we were pretty underwhelmed by the pools. They were basically just two small rock pools filled with overflowing sea water. The backdrop of uninterrupted sea was cool and made them like infinity pools but we weren't feeling a dunk.

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Instead we went to try some more koala hunting. Although this proved to be a little hazardous as looking up at trees meant you weren't looking for rocks that were lurching to trip you up! Unfortunately we didn't manage to spot any other ones but the good thing was that the one we saw earlier was still in the same location and had moved down a little. After getting some cool photos he then had a little stretch and clambered down the tree for some food. It was magical watching him. And I feel sure he knew everyone was watching and was just showing off! He really was cute and we could have watched him all day but we needed to get back for our bus... Which we had already left the timing fairly fine resulting in a brisk walk back! How does this airways happen!

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Loaded up it was time for another overnight bus to Airlie Beach in preparation for our Whitsundays trip. The four 18 year olds we had adopted on Fraser were also on the same bus which provided some laughs and extra conversation. As with all the bus rides we've had it was fairly uneventful. Well that was until we got to one of the service station stops, where out the corner of my eye while awaiting the toilet I noticed an odd movement. It was not a natural looking movement or anything I'd seen before and peering through the darkness without my glasses on I could not be sure what I had seen. Well not until the movement happened again and I overheard someone whisper that there was a kangaroo there! Grabbing Iz we both looked out waiting for it to move again. Which sure enough it did and appeared under the street lamps next to a busy road with a baby Joey in toe. It was not something we expected, especially against the back drop of a petrol station, and it was like nothing we had ever seen! It was wonderful and really topped off a great wildlife spotting day! 3 stereotypically Australian animals in the wild ticked off in one day... Not bad!

Stepping off the bus at 9.30am at Airlie was like stepping into a sauna! The heat just encompassed you and made us instantly begrudge the walk to the hostel we knew was coming. A hostel representative had come down to lead the way. Although this was bittersweet. As on the one hand it meant we wouldn't get lost and would take the most direct route... Yet on the other hand it meant we would not be able to set our own pace. Dripping in sweat (much like now as I write this) and in a fair degree of pain we ploughed forward to the hostel.

15 January 2020- Worry

When we arrived feeling disgusting we were told we that we couldn't check in until 2pm. Although fairly common it's still annoying. Despite this we thought we would try our luck as sometimes rooms are available a little early. And boy were we in luck! She did let us check in and upgraded us to a private room!! Things like this do not happen to us and we were revelling in it. The room was a large four bed family room with a double bed, air con, a fridge and it's own bathroom! Now this may not sound like much but when you are used to staring a room with around 6 other people and often a bathroom with a greater amount this was luxury! Plus it was nice just to be able to spread out and walk around without clothes which in this heat was a dream! After a shower to freshen up and cool down we headed to explore the town and grab lunch.

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Lunch was a huge tasty pizza that was large enough to have the leftovers for lunch. We also had a chat to the pizza chef and things were all going well. Obviously with us this was about to come crashing down. The hostel was massive and beautiful with two pools we headed to one, again in an attempt to cool down. This was futile though as the pool water must have been about 18 degrees, so it felt like a warm bath! Back at the room looking to book our flight our flight into Japan was when disaster struck! We couldn't find the debit card! We had taken it to reception earlier as they had wrongly charged us for the upgrade sand we needed to reverse it. But neither of us could remember when we last had it. After a mad panic looking everywhere we resided ourselves to the fact it was gone, but hoping it would have been handed in when checking in the morning. It really put a dampener on things. Which was a shame as everything had been going so well. Crestfallen we packed a bag for our trip the next day and headed to bed.

16 January- Whitsundays

After checking at reception and still no sign of the card we put it to the back of our minds ready to enjoy our day trip. Once measured for a wet suit and after signed our lives away in disclosures we were on the boat. It was another scorcher of a day and we were pleased for the breeze as the speedboat bounced over the sea. It was a ridiculously calm day on the water, so much so the surface looked like a mirror.

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We reached our first snorkel spot and wow it was incredible. By far the best place either of us have ever snorkeled. There were fish everywhere and they were so brightly coloured. Although it is really difficult to see on the camera. You could get so close to them! Our big ambition was to a turtle, however we didn't get so lucky. Back in the boat it was off to the next snorkel spot. The diversity of fish at this stop was lesser but here they were permitted to feed the fish meaning there were just streams of fish everywhere. When the food hit the water if you were close you would literally be caught in a fish tunnel. It's experiences like this that are so hard to actually describe and the reason you need to travel and experience these things first hand.

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With a lunch in our bellies and on a little high it was time to stop at Hill Inlet and view the famous Whitehaven beach! This has to be the most beautiful beach you will ever see! It looks like it has been made on a computer and no photo does it's beauty justice. Something else special about this beach is that it looks completely different every day, as the sand swirls in different ways. So only the people that visited on the same day as us will have the unique photos we have of this location. It is difficult to comprehend that nature has made this place. It honestly looked like everyone's perception of paradise. Another interesting fact is that the sand here is the purest and finest in the world! It is 98.9% pure silica sand. In comparison the sand at Lake McKenzie is around 60% and this place has the second purest silica sand in the world! As at Lake McKenzie the sand was great for exfoliating your body, washing your hair and buffing up any gold jewellery. The below photos are not enhanced in any way, yet they still don't capture what you saw. Seriously stunning!

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Although it was great to view the sand and sea from above it was so hot we just wanted to run down and get in the water. Yet again though the water wasn't really as cool as you'd like yet still refreshing. It really was a brilliant day and along with Fraser up there with the best things we have done in Australia.

Next stop an overnight bus to Cairns!

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Posted by Bears on Tour 02:41 Archived in Australia Tagged fish water koala paradise snorkeling speedboat whitsundays airlie_beach thunder_cats kanageroo Comments (0)

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