Well I got up at the crack of dawn (0530!) – the earliest for a long, long time, but hey, like the last early morning it was so that I could go diving. Not exactly the end of the world!
Missing the Manila rush hour, it only took me 20 minutes and 80 pesos (around 80p) to get to the domestic terminal. In rush hour, that could be over an hour easily… So I had a long wait around.
Doing my usual and taking the absolute piss with my hand luggage allowance (laptop, DSLR, lenses, compact camera, magazine, books, underwater housing, strobe, mask, snorkel….oh and the odd bit of clothing), I checked in with no hold luggage! What a great feeling.
I had taken a taxi without even leaving the terminal, negotiating a fiver off the 3 hour trip from Cebu airport to Maya port on the North East of Cebu Island. The taxi driver stopped to check the way with the locals several times, and got a shocker as he hit the less paved sections of road at a fair lick (I could tell when he yelled, and I woke up). We passed some real local places, trucks overloaded with sugar cane, and we finally hit the port where the ‘banca’ boats would take us to the island – the only place I’ve seen with a petrol station right on the ‘beach’.
Again, it was negotiating time. A local offered me a boat for 1000 pesos (‘No other customers – private boat’). ‘No way’ – too much. For a moment I thought he had me by the bollocks – I had to get 8km across the water, and it was rough. I stood around long enough to see the others waiting, watching the locals take the catches of the day off the boats.
Catch of the Day!
I then spotted a couple of Exotic Resort t-shirts. A quick intro, and I got the boat across with them and their supplies for 50 pesos, saving me 9 pounds 50 pence…only I didn’t have to pay that either. With a quick transfer of 20 pesos to the small boatmen (boatmen of small boats, not physically small men!),it was onto the Exotic Resort banca boat. It was an interesting crossing. Unlike the paradise conditions I hoped for and expected, it was cloudy, and ‘blowing a hooly’ (a.k.a. very windy), with large swells and waves. We were all quite damp on our arrival at the island.
I checked into my room, the only thing making it worthy of the $21 being that it was on the beach. Yes, the only thing seperating me from the sea was a palm tree, a couple of mini banca boats, and 10m of white soft sand. I then went to book my Nitrox and Deep Dive course, as discussed over email and the phone (‘No problem, sort it out when you get here’).
‘Sorry, we can’t do that – our instructor is in the city’. Pissed off, I strolled down to Thresher Shark Divers who were more than happy to oblige with the Nitrox course, but recommended I should leave it at that. With a complete disregard to the cost I had some homework for the evening, a PADI folder, a couple of bits of plastic depth/exposure tables, and a hefty book for my mum to take home from Manila.
Beach arrival :
My bungalow 🙂