After two weeks in the Philippines, I am now back in Korea. What an amazing place, especially if you are into diving!
After arriving in Cebu City, I proceeded to head to the Diplomat Hotel, which is a mid-priced hotel located downtown. Whilst traveling in the taxi to the hotel, I couldn’t help but notice how much Cebu City resembles poor neighborhoods in Southern California or Mexico. It was ridden with garbage, graffiti, prostitutes, beggars, and it just wasn’t what I was expecting. After one night there, I proceeded to travel to the north part of Cebu Island where Malapascua Island is located.
In the taxi, traveling up the poorly maintained road, we passed through a bunch of small villages that in comparison to Cebu City, looked more and more pleasant. They were cleaner, greener, and seemed safer than the city. The one thing that I found interesting about the villages though, was the sheer amount of kids either returning from school, helping their parents on a farm, or just hanging out. Actually it didn’t seem like the majority of children there attend school because each school that we would pass by seemed too small to accommodate the large number of kids I saw. I asked my taxi driver about that, and he mentioned that indeed there aren’t enough schools to accommodate all of the children. It’s really unfortunate that not all children there are given an equal opportunity with receiving an education.
Arriving at the port of Maya, I was in a daze. I exited the taxi, and then a barrage of locals came up to me wanting me to ride their private boat, buy some of their goods, or stay at their hotel. It was too much for me, so I just tuned them all out. I read on one of the signs that the ferry over to Malapascua was 50 pesos, and what some of the locals were tiring to charge me was 10 times that!
I took the ferry over and my whole opinion of the Philippines changed. Here was an amazingly beautiful and clean island! This is the type of island you would expect to see in National Geographic or on the Discovery Channel with white sand beaches, little bungalows and ultra clear water. After getting situated in the hotel, I met up with Jackie, a new friend and co-worker. We began to talk about diving over drinks, after all it was happy hour. Then, without knowing what I was getting into, I made a decision (under the influence) to enroll in my open-water PADI certification. It ended up being something that I really enjoyed and it gave me something to do before some of my other fiends were set to arrive. The next three days I dedicated my time to learning the “in’s and out’s” of diving. On a few later dives, I was even able to capture some good pictures and videos on my new Panasonic DMC-TS2 camera. The camera has a rating of 10 meters/33ft without the use of an external case. I even took it down to 13 meters/43 ft. Without any problems.
Later Adam, Kim, and Stephanie arrived. It was nice to have some new faces there. However somehow, I then fell into a routine of waking up, going for a jog, swim, massage, lunch, nap, drinks, dinner, and finally more drinks. That pattern lasted five days. At the third day however, I started to question what I had become. Is this me? Can I continue to relax this much? I missed being productive and felt like I soon needed to move on. At the end of the fifth day, that’s exactly what I did. I went back to Cebu City for the night with the plan to head to Bohol and Panglao the next morning. In the morning, I got a surprise call from a friend whom I hand’t seen in a long time from Korea. She had been working in the Philippines and saw my status update on Facebook. We met up at where else, but Starbucks. Isn’t that the quintessential meeting place for people whom you haven’t seen in a long time? I say it is. I somehow talked her into coming to Bohol, which was great. That meant I actually had someone to explore the island with. She could leave right away however, which gave me a day in Bohol by myself. That worked out fine for me because I dove that day on a couple dives and had a lot of fun doing that.
After Ji Yoon, my long lost friend, arrived we were then ready to explore the sights of Bohol. We saw a lot of things in one day including, the famous Chocolate Hills, tasiers (little primates), and we even did an intense zipline over a sprawling gorge. It could tell that while I do enjoy my independence, it really was nice to travel and experience the sights with a friend.
Ji Yoon had to return to work the next day, and at that time, I was ready to head back to Korea. I wanted to get caught up on some work and errands that I needed to take care of before returning to school. I also needed to pick up my cat “Forest” from my vet. I ended up coming back three days early. It just felt like the right thing to do.
I will post a two-part HD video on Youtube tomorrow while at work. That’s it for now!