Philippines Post Script

The people make the place and the Philippine people are great. The diving is diverse and really, really good.

Debbie managed to suss out good places to stay. The one place that was disappointing on first impression we grew to like after the first couple of days. I would return to every one of them.

The local food was a bit disappointing. There are plenty of street food type venders but the problem is we were not sure what they were serving. Some of the delicacies included pig intestines and pre hatched baby ducks, not eggs ducks. So, we stayed away from mystery meat. Pork Belly is something else that is eaten a lot. So little meat and so much fat. Yuck. Debbie survived on rice and chicken and I was always able to find something. The food was inexpensive though we managed to eat for less than $25 CAD a day for both of us. Note: we don’t eat huge meals and often share an entrée, you would have to adjust if you have a ‘normal’ appetite. I allowed 200p for breakfast and 400p for both lunch and dinner per person.

The water is more than warm. When diving we consider warm water to be 81F (sorry we dive imperial). The water here was on average 85F. The only time I felt a chill was the occasional time we passed through a thermocline. We dove coral gardens larger than a football field, walls with a kaleidoscope of colours, we stared out into the blue hanging in the water with no bottom and we dove the muck finding all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures. There are so many more places we could go and experience diving every bit as good as what we did on this trip.

There are a couple of things that a traveller needs to be wary of. Filipino airlines are not governed by the same regulations North American airlines are. When Philippine Airlines over charged us for the tickets we bought they would not pay us back in cash. All they offered was a voucher good for one year. A very useless gesture for most foreign travelers. We did manage to use the voucher to upgrade the tickets on another flight we had booked but the cash would have been much more useful. Then when they completely cancelled a flight and put us on a flight the next day they refused to provide us with a hotel room to make up the extra night in Manila. Cebu Pacific pulled a similar stunt many weeks before we were to arrive in the Philippines and they would not refund our money so we could book on another airline. The ticket was non refundable but it was the airlines inability to provide the service we had paid for that caused us to change our hotel bookings. If we had wanted the change, I can understand their decision but since the change was initiated by them, I think they should have kept us happy.

Taxi drivers caused me too much grief. I read before we left home that white taxis were the most reliable. They are supposed to be metered and the drivers are supposed to use the meters. About half the time we got in a taxi, the driver refused to start the meter and then told us how much the ride was going to cost. Once I bargained as we drove and we agreed on a price. The driver still wanted more when we arrived. He messed with his meter and showed me a bogus number he said reflected the cost of the trip. I gave him a few pesos more and later found out even the first number we had agreed on was too much. When one cabbie was completely out of line, I made him let us out and we found alternative transport. I would suggest if you are to use a taxi that you make the driver start the meter before you get in or don’t get in. You can use Grab, an Uber type app, and you will know from the onset what the trip will cost but the one time I was able to compare a Grab fee to a metered fee the Grab fee was twice as much.

Debbie and I are already talking about the possibility of returning to the Philippines. The diving is very diverse and there are several areas we heard about that I sure would be worth a visit. I would definitely go back to Dauin and spend a couple of days in the muck. We were inches away from coming face to face with a tiger shark in Malapascua and we were not fortunate enough to happen upon any whale sharks that might happen by. So, there is still lots to see. Next time would be strictly a dive adventure though. We did a bit of touring this time and got a pretty good sense of what the country is like.

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