It’s Sally here now, writing an update to our forever changing plans here in the Philippines!So we arrived in Sablayan after a very bumpy ride on unmade roads, not the kind of roads you expect leading to a top dive/tourist area! I was starting to have my doubts and getting off the bus in a quite dusty town confirmed them – this wasn’t the dive place we were hoping for!
We asked around for a cheap hotel and where the scuba shops were only to be met with confused looks. Apparently there were two hotels in town and no one seemed to understand scuba or dive – awesome!
So we found a hotel and thankfully a helpful lady who did know about diving. After about two hours on the internet searching and some hard to understand Skype calls we seemed to have a vague plan for the next day to go diving or at least some people we could call. It was adding up to be very expensive to dive in the Apo reef but since we had travelled so long to get here we thought we would swallow the cost and at least make all the buses worth while!
The next day we seemed to have a plan. After some brief emails with a guy who had some huts and a dive operation on a small island not far from the mainland, we got on a small boat to take us across to Pandan Island.
It was really beautiful approaching and we started to feel excited! We went to the reception to meet the man I’d been emailing. A fat topless stereotypically arrogant Frenchman came out, barely saying hello and told us with a shrug that there were no boats going to Apo reef and if we wanted to go we would have to hire a boat on top of the already expensive costs.
There had been a miscommunication in our emails and he thought we had just wanted to dive locally, despite my emails specifically asking if there was a park entrance fee. He didn’t seem to care at all and was very dismissive, where as we were totally deflated. It was way to expensive to consider doing the local dives where we were told we may see a turtle… so we got the boat man to take us back to the mainland.
We asked in the one other place that dived in Apo reef and were met with the same response- we would have to hire the boat to get there and the cost would end up being about $500.
So we finally admitted defeat and with our heads hung we got on the next bus to take us back to San Jose where we had left the previous day. Once there we then got another bus to take us to Bulacalcao where we could get a fast boat to Boracay at 10pm.
The bus from San Jose started with an hour ride through farm land and dirt roads in search of 11 people who also wanted to get on the already full bus. We finally found them and crammed them in the van as well as on the roof and headed off… Think about 25 people in total on a 12 seat bus!
We arrived in Bulacalcao pretty tired and groggy and went straight to the boat terminal.
Tickets bought, we had a couple of beers whilst waiting to board the boat only to be told after waiting for an hour and a half that the boat had a problem and wouldn’t be leaving tonight but it should leave tomorrow morning… Deep breaths.
Dean and I have been scarred a little by Indonesia and are reluctant to believe anything we are told. If this had been in Indonesia and this had happened, it would have meant that they hoped it will go tomorrow but in reality, it could still go tonight but it probably won’t go for at least two days.
We found a hotel room which had a view of the boat and sat up watching in case there was any movement and the boat was going to take off. It didn’t and today it left just half an hour late.
It’s so refreshing to be clear about things and for people to be straight with you – we are really loving the people here.
The boat is clean, ordered, it is environmentally friendly and despite the prayer that was played on the flatscreen before we left (and that they are screening titanic) we think it’s great!
Let’s hope things start going our way from here on!