Philippines – Dumaguete, Bais & Apo Island – 6th June ~ 9th June 2013

The first time I heard about Dumaguete is actually from a vendor. He actually stayed in Manila but is going to move to Dumaguete.

He kept praising how nice the city is and I wondered how it look like.

Another reason for me to go to Dumaguete are the attractions that is available there. After I have done some research, I feel that it is a pretty nice place.


Day 1

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 001Flight to Manila is uneventful with PAL Express. When the flight attendant is doing the flight safety briefing, I can’t help to think about the Davao Airport incident. Are they really capable to do what they are supposed to do if there is an incident?

I do not know why but every time there is a turbulence, my heart will sink.

Guess I am being paranoid.

The flight land in NAIA T2 a little late; maybe 20 mins. However immigration clearance is slow and the baggage claim is even slower. I got a little worried whether can I catch my domestic flight.

I then exit the terminal and walk up to the arrival hall. Here I walk to the end of the terminal to take a white taxi to T1.

I arrived at T1, paid the fare of P92 and quickly went into T3. Quickly check-in and I am at the gate waiting to my flight to Dumaguete.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 002 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 003Arrived at Dumaguete finally!

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 005 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 007I walk out of the terminal and look for transport. For this trip, I actually have done little planning. I do not know why. I just try to see where will this city brings me to.

Trike drivers approach me and offer me a ride to my hotel for P100. I told him “Sorry, too expensive”. The trike driver then lower down to P70 and I just walk away. He run after me and then ask how much am I willing to pay. I answered P50. He reluctantly agreed.

The ride to my hotel One Bethany Place is very short. Maybe about 5 to 7 mins.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 010 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 011Unfortunately I am too early so they can’t check me in. So I leave my bags with the hotel and explore the city.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 012 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 015One Bethany Place is a “Christian hotel”. You can’t drink and smoke within the premises. Definitely no “instant spouse” allowed!

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 014I actually wanted to walk to Harolds Mansion to ask about their dive trip. Unfortunately I make the wrong turn into Real Street instead and ended up walking circles.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 018 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 019Anyway, since I am lost so I just play by it. I walk along the road and found that even though Dumaguete is a small city but the traffic is terrible. I can’t even cross the road!

I tried to find a place to top up my SMART load and when I found one, the store has a brown out. So have to continue looking for one.

I finally found one. I noticed from the log book that Filipinos top up their load in very small amount like P30 or P40. I guess when I say I wanted to top up P200, the girl was surprised.

After topping up my load, I walk down and soon I saw downtown. I know I am completely disoriented now. I then ask a traffic warden the direction to Harolds Mansion. He is very kind to draw me a map and advice me to walk through Silliman University compound. I was thinking a commercial hostel in a University Campus? Based on what he draw, it looks very near but later I realise how wrong am I!

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 021 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 023I just followed his direction and ask a few security guards along the way and true enough, I reached Harolds Mansion after about 20 mins walk.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 026I register for my dive trip and the staff will inform me if there is any.

I then walk towards Rizal Boulevard.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 027It was a clear and hot day. Rizal Boulevard is the pride of Dumaguete I would say. In many cities or towns that is by the beach or shoreline, the local government allow people to be built properties on the beach itself. This actually deprived residents of the scenery and use of the sea. The local government of Dumaguete uses a different approach where they made it into a boulevard where residents can enjoy the sea view.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 036 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 037I sat there and enjoy the view and the sea breeze. It was really very soothing.

I then walk to the city center and pass by the bell tower and the church. I seek refuge inside the church from the heat.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 040 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 041During  this time, I got text from Katya.

Katya is a friend that I met in Manila. I was having dinner in one of the restaurants and she was sitting beside me. We chatted up and found out that she is staying in Negros Island. I told her about my trip to Dumaguete and she offered to bring me around.

Initially I thought she is joking but we still keep in touch. So when I told her about my trip she insist on bringing me around. Talk about Filipina’s hospitality!

After I done some shopping in one of the “China Store”, I took a trike back to the hotel for P30 which I later found that I am paying 3x the normal price.

When I reach back to the hotel, the room is ready for check in but my room is still occupied. The hotel offer me a double room for one night and will transfer me to the single room on the 2nd night.

I then ask will I be charge P650 or P750 for the first night. The staff said P750. I then told them this is unacceptable to me and I will choose to stay in the single room then.

The staff then quickly say that they can offer me P650 for the double room for the first night and will transfer my things to the single room when I am out.

I agree to it.Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 043 The room is simple but clean. The toilet is clean and the water pressure from the shower is good. Hot water is functional as well.Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 044

The hotel give me an impression about a typical America building. They give you a homely feel and it is a little “out of style” from the buildings within the vicinity.Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 045After a while, I walk to the front desk to wait for Katya. She arrived and pick me up for lunch. She then suggested Hayahay along Rizal Boulevard. I have heard a lot about their Dumaguete Express and I can’t wait to try it.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 056We are seated on the second floor and have a good view of the sea.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 050When some of the buses passed by the restaurant, Katya will sometimes waved frantically to them. She is so comical some times.

While waiting for the food, we discuss our recent development and some social issues that Philippines is facing. We really have a good talk and while we are having our food, we spoke about some interesting tales that we both have.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 051As for the food, Dumaguete Express is a sinful food to me. The coconut milk in the dish reminds me of Bicol Express. Sinful but delicious.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 054The spring roll is delicious too. Though we only met once but we have a heart to heart talk.

Katya then brought me to take a walk in Silliman University. I was amazed how big is the University. Well, you could say in our country, we too have a big university but what I like about Silliman University is the building is unlike ours. Our University is made of pure concrete. There are no character in it where Silliman University give me a more nostalgic feel.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 060 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 061Katya is like a Public Relation Officer. She seems to know everyone and even if she does not know them, she can easily strike a conversation.

After the University tour, Katya then brought me to Harolds Mansion as she need to attend to some matters there.

This is the first time I went to the rooftop of Harolds Mansion. It is a pretty cool place. The rooftop is sheltered and there is a billiard table and seats for hostel guest to interact. Sometimes the hostel will organise some live band or theme party.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 066 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 067 Do note that I am able to go up to the rooftop as Katya brought me there. Non-hostel guest are not allowed to enter the rooftop.Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 068Katya then decided to bring me to Dauin to look at the beach. I would say the beach is not that impressive. No white sand but what I like about the beach is its tranquility. It is very quiet and there is even a turtle sanctuary just right at the beach!

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 082 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 083I was told that in the morning, there may be turtles and you can just walk into the beach and corals is not far from it! This is really appealing to me.

Dauin is also the boarding point for diving in Apo Island.

After staying there for about an hour, we make our way back to Dumaguete.

Katya brought me to Sans Rival for dinner.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 093I have a simple meal of chicken where Katya has fish. The ambiance of the bistro is good; very relaxing. Katya ordered some cookies called Silvanas. She ordered the butter flavour and she taught me the correct way to eat it.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 088The cookies are served cold. So you will need to wait for it to thaw a little. When the surface has become a little soft, then you eat it.

When the teeth sink into the cookies, it is like ice cream filling. The taste and smell of the cookies is quite aromatic. It is not very expensive either. I think it is P125 for 10 pieces.

After dinner, Katya brought me to walk along Rizal Boulevard. The sea breeze is cooling and many residents are taking a stroll at the baywalk.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 089 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 091Some vendors are selling their stuff there and even have tattoo service.

We walk till almost the end of the Boulevard and turn back. Katya then send me back to the hotel.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 094 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 097A very tiring day indeed but I really felt happy.

Day 2

Katya actually arranged a boat for me in Bais to do Dolphin Watching. However, the boatman rest on Saturday as they are Seventh Adventist. Friday slot was booked by other visitors. I was very disappointed and hoping a miracle will happen. I am also willing to pay a higher price in order to join the group that has book the boat.

On Wednesday night while I have no internet access, Katya inform me that the group has cancelled their booking and the slot is free! I was overjoyed and thank Katya profusely for her help and effort.

The day started when I woke up at 0330hrs. Washed up and ready to leave at 0415hrs. I waited patiently for a trike to pass by but it was dead quiet. By 0430hrs, I start to get anxious. The guard then help me to look out for a trike.

A trike finally appeared and I ride to Ceres Bus Terminal near to Robinson Mall for P10.

The trike ride is about 5 to 7 mins.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 098 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 100 I noticed that there is a direct bus from Dumaguete to Sipalay and it will take about 5 hours. The bus will leave at around 1100hrs.

I then ask what time does the bus leave for Bais and I was told 0500hrs. However at 0450hrs, the bus start to move out. So a note to all visitors; be at the terminal at least 30mins before the scheduled bus departure. Your time may be different from the bus terminal time and the drivers follow the bus terminal time and not your time.Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 102The bus partially run along the coastline and it took about 70 mins to reach Bais for a fare of P48.

I text the boatman about my departure from Dumaguete as they have specifically mentioned I need to take the 5am bus to Bais.

There are two wharf that serve the Dolphin Watching tour. One is Canibol port and the other is Capiñahan Wharf.

Capiñahan wharf is where the Bais tourist office is located. I last read from the Internet is they are charging quite a high price for the dolphin watching and Manjuyod White Sandbar. They are like charging like P4000 or P5000 for the boat!

Canibol port is where the private operators are located. The boatman will not be there unless there is a booking.

If you are unsure of where to alight, just tell the driver to drop you off at Bais bus terminal. From where you drop off, take a trike for P50 to either port.

As the boatman I engage is a private one, so the trike driver drive me to Canibol port. As a matter of fact, Jane the guide actually waited for me around the bus terminal and manage to locate me. Frankly speaking, I am really lost when I alight from the bus as I can’t see any bus terminal at all!

Luckily Jane keep in constant contact with me and located me soon I alight.

I bought some bread for my trip before going to the port. It took about 5 mins of trike ride to reach the port.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 104 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 105 Jane also collected some money from me to buy fuel for the boat.

The boat is actually ready when I reach there and before I noticed, I am on my way.Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 106The boat actually pass by Manjuyod White Sandbar on the way to the Dolphin Watching site.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 116

The weather is actually pretty bad; dark clouds and the wave is pretty strong. My hope for seeing the dolphins diminishes when I see the dark clouds and choppy wave.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 112However Jane told me there are still chance to see it. They will try their best to spot them for me. Jane also wanted to set my expectation right that there is no guarantee that we can see the dolphins but based on their experience, there should not be any problem sighting dolphins today. I keep my fingers crossed.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 108The ride to the site took about 20 mins.

Jane and the boatman which is actually her father start to look for dolphins. After 10 mins, there is still no sight of them. I start to lose hope.

Suddenly Jane pointed a direction to her father. The boat start to go on that direction and soon we saw the first dolphin and it flipped!

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 125Then we saw two dolphins swimming at the bow of the boat. I was amazed by the sight. I still do not believe to see such sight with my own eyes.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 126

Soon more dolphins start to flip! I think I saw at least another 3 dolphins doing the flip. I was really overjoyed!

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 132 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 140After a few moments of excitement, the sea suddenly becomes very quiet. The dolphins suddenly disappeared. I was thinking “That’s all?”.

Well, I couldn’t ask for more but Jane told me to be patient. It may take some time for the dolphins to be playful.

We saw several pods of dolphins from afar but they soon disappear into the water.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 236 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 264Jane told me that the dolphins seems moody today and are not in the mood.

Soon we again spotted several pods of dolphins and the boatman steer to the boat to the direction. Once we are close to them, they disappear into the water.

The boat man then try to go slow and once we spotted another pod of dolphins, he slow down the boat to reduce the engine noise. Now we can get closer to the dolphins but once we are too near, they again disappear into the water.

This happened a few times but I still manage to catch some wonderful sights of the dolphins swimming. I told Jane that it is time to go to the sandbar and I tell myself this is the best I can get.

On the way to the sandbar, the dolphins appeared suddenly pretty near to the boat. The boatman tried to steer as close as possible to the dolphins.

The sight of dolphins gracefully swimming in the water really overwhelmed me. This is the best scene I see today and I manage to catch them on video! Both Jane and me shouted with joy.

After the final display of these intelligent mammals, we bid farewell to them.

When we reach the sandbar, it is high tide and the water is pretty deep.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 279 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 280 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 281Jane asked me whether do I want to swim but I decline. I told them to return to the pier.

Jane was surprised by my decision as I was told that the Bais tour usually at least take half a day. I look at my watch, it is not even 1000hrs.

When we reach the pier, I made the remaining payment. I was very happy about this trip. I actually wanted to give Jane a hug for giving me this wonderful experience.

Some may think why I am so grateful about Jane. This is business after all.

Firstly as I have mentioned earlier, the boatman at Capiñahan Wharf is getting greedy but Jane is charging me a price that I find it reasonable. Please do not ask me how much they charge me.

Secondly, some boatman will just go through motion and “try” to spot some dolphins for you. If they can’t find them then they will just tell you “Sorry, no dolphins today”.

Some boatman has complained to Jane that she is spoiling the market. They are charging a rate lower and making them look expensive. However Jane argued that they are ripping off the tourist and this will drive tourist away and is not sustainable.

Jane told me that this is especially true when the low season arrive. Jane still have more bookings than other boatman especially compared to those in Capiñahan Wharf.

Jane is one of the few Filipinas that I see that really know how to think sensibly. She knows what is sustainable tourism and making a honest living. In short, she is very down to earth.

She also believed fighting for the rights of indigenous people and she is in some committee that fight for their rights.

Jane told me something about her family and her trip to Manila that I find it interesting.

The dolphin watching in Bais with Jane is many more times better than the one in Panglao Island. Way much better.

One thing that upset me about the trip is the trash we found in the sea. The trash is in the middle of the sea between Bais and Cebu Island. I believed no one is claiming responsibility of the trash.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 195 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 197 If Bais wants to continue to attract the dolphins to stay, they had better do something about the trash. Keeping the sea clean is everyone’s responsibility and not the government only.Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 198Jane, if you are reading this, I really wanted to thank you for the unforgettable experience. Till now I am constantly looking at the videos and pictures I have taken. Though the dolphins are not as playful as usual (maybe they have too much San Miguel last night) but the trip to me is memorable enough.

For those who are interested, you can contact Jane at or +639202538099. Remember that they do not operate on Saturday no matter how much money you pay. Of course you can start with a million peso to tempt her. (Just kidding).

I took a trike back to the main road for P50 and took a bus back to Dumaguete city.

The bus passed by my hotel and I signal the bus driver to stop.

It is 1115hrs then. The hotel has already transferred my stuff to the single room.

The single room is smaller than the double room but it is still of reasonable size and cleanliness.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 283 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 284I then text Katya that I am back and she then text me back to inform me that I am invited for lunch at Harolds Mansion with her friends.

I am actually surprised by the invitation as I intend as spend the remaining days alone. Katya has already brought me around Dumaguete for a day and I am already grateful about it so I did not expect anything more.

I quickly washed up and I was thinking I can’t go empty-handed.

I walk to the nearest public market and bought some mangoes and banana. The mangoes were very nice and the banana is also big and yellow!

I bought fruits because I really do not know what to buy!

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 286 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 288 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 289 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 290I then took a trike to Harolds Mansion for P10 and I was early.

It was a seafood lunch and this is the first time I saw slipper crab. Too bad I did not manage to take a good picture of it because….. I was busy eating!

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 293It was a good meal and after the meal, I just stayed back to have a chat with the people there.

Well, time flies and before I know it, it is already like 1700hrs. Katya drove me back to the hotel and she has some matters to attend to.

I took a rest and decide to venture into Robinson Mall.

I tried to flag a trike to bring me there but no trike driver is willing to bring me there and I wonder why.

Finally one driver stop and I told him where I wanted to go. Before he reject me, I told him I will pay him P15 to bring me there. He agreed.

The journey took about 15 mins.

Robinson Mall in Dumaguete reminds me of the Robinson Mall in Puerto Princesa. The design looks similar and even the stores inside looks similar!

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 299I just have my dinner there and have a relaxing stroll. Just a note that the stores in the mall closes early. By 2000hrs, most stores have already closed!

I then get a trike to try to bring me back to the hotel but no trike wanted to bring me there! Luckily there is someone who goes in the same direction as me and the trike driver agreed to take me there for P10.

After I alight at the hotel, I walk to the place I know I can find Katya.

Katya decided to go to Harolds Mansion as they are having an Oyster and Acoustic Night.

We went up to the rooftop and saw a small crowd there. The singer is pretty good but Filipinos usually are good singers. Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 303 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 304Katya then brought a big plate of oyster to me and she said she has to leave!Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 301I just stayed there and chat with the other guest for a while before I leave as I have to wake up early tomorrow.

I left Harolds before Katya come back.

Day 3

Woke up at 0545hrs. Washed up and I walk to Harolds Mansion. The walk isn’t that bad, maybe about 10mins. Hey, I save P10!

My dive at Apo Island is today. We are supposed to gather at Harolds Mansion at 0700hrs but I reached there around 0620hrs. The dive staff gather my gear and I made the payment of P2800 for 2 dives.

I have requested for 3 dives but as I am leaving the next day at 0900hrs, I reserved my 3rd dive if my surface from the 3rd dive can be 18 hours before my flight. If I manage to get the 3rd dive, I will just need to top up additional P500.

Harolds Mansion dive package offer the most value and also the cheapest. Imagine P3300 for 3 dives with gear, dive master and food!

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 306 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 307 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 309By 0800hrs, we  are all ready to move.

The boat is located at Dauin which is about 20 to 30 mins ride.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 311We are with the advance party with all the equipment. When we reach Dauin, we help the staff to transfer all the gears from the truck to the boat.

 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 316Harolds dive boat has just went under a major renovation and retrofit for the last 2 months. It is very obvious that the boat looks new. It even has a toilet bowl on the boat!Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 313It has 2 decks where the upper deck is smaller. I estimate the boat capacity is about 30. I am actually very impressed by it. It is even better than the boat from Thresher Shark Dive in Malapascua.

Soon the rest of the divers arrived. There are about 16 of us where some of them only snorkel and there are 4 Scuba Discovery Divers.

We quickly board the boat at the boatman start the engine.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 322The boat ride took about 20 to 30 mins to Apo Island. The first dive is at Chapel point.

The wave is not strong at this time and it seems that it will be a good dive then.

We suit up and I am the first one to jump. Our dive master has 3 persons in his group which includes me. The other two divers  are a Japanese couple, Dashi & Kazuna.

As I am the only one who has an underwater camera, I offer to take pictures of them which they really appreciate it.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 325 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 327Soon all of us is in the water but Kazuna seems to have problem descending. After some effort, the dive master pull down Kazuna into the water.

The dive went smoothly most of the time but something went wrong for me for the last 6 mins.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 335 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 336 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 342 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 343 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 378 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 380

I was struggling with the current and the dive master is further and further away from me. The Japanese couple is also ahead of me. We are supposed to maintain our depth at 5m but I am losing my buoyancy control.

I constantly look at my gauge and it doesn’t look well.

Finally I gave up and decided to surface. I found that I am alone but I can see the dive boat. I am about 50m from the dive boat but the wave is strong now.

The wave is pushing me away from the boat. My initial attempt to swim back to the boat failed.

I then flip over and back paddle with all my might. After some serious effort, I reach the boat. I was relieved.

The dive master asked me what’s wrong. I was alright for the most of the dive. I just told him I find it hard to swim against the current.

I am surprised that my bottom time is 41mins!

You may ask why the dive master did not help me. To me, a dive master can only do so much and he cannot concentrate his attention on one person only. There is only one person responsible of your safety during diving; that is the diver himself.

The diver must access the situation and made decision in the water like is he going to surface or not and dive within your means.

I went back to the boat exhausted but it is still a good dive. Unfortunately we did not manage to catch any sight of sea turtle.

When I was resting on the boat, Kazuna came up to me to apologize. I was taken aback. I was wondering what is she doing?

Kazuna apologised that because of her, the group got held up and are not able to begin the dive quickly as she as problem descending.

I was very surprised by her actions but Kazuna really exhibit the well-known politeness of a Japanese.

I told her it is alright as long as everybody is safe. In diving, safety is paramount and nothing can supersede it.

The weather is turning very bad now. The waves are strong and the boat is swaying badly. It is cold too! One snorkeler even felt sea sick.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 394 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 397The crew even have to roll up some of the shelter to reduce the drag from the wind.

I saw a lady still in the water. She is Linn from Norway. She is swimming leisurely in the water where everybody look in shock on why is this mad woman still in the water!

It was later that we found out that such wave is common in her country and these are considered small wave. She has seen worse and she is a damn good swimmer which I will tell you why later.

After some rest, the boat move on to the next dive site; Cogon.

Cogon is located at the other side of the island. The weather here is much better and the wave much calmer.

We suit up and get into the water.

This is actually a drift diving; meaning we do not need to paddle too hard. We will make use of the current to bring us to our pick up point.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 405 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 413 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 418 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 421The current is pretty strong and we just drift for about 19min and we have reach our pick up point. Again, no sea turtle but we saw a big sea snake!

We went up the boat and time to have our lunch.

I am feeling a bit chatty and I start to talk to some of the passengers on the boat.

The chicken sandwich which I ordered taste alright.

After lunch, the dive master came to me to tell me I may need to miss my 3rd dive as by the time they surface, it is less than 18 hours from my flight. I said ok, safety always comes first though I must admit I am disappointed.

The boat went to the 3rd dive site and the divers went down. Kazuna stayed on the boat where her hubby Daisha went down.

The rest of us went down to snorkel but the wave suddenly become strong. All of us return to the boat and the boat set off the pick up the divers.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 429By now the wave has become very strong and we can’t spot the divers.

I can see Kazuna worried face. All the crew try to spot the divers but still no sight of them.

The boat then move to another location but still nothing.

I start to recall a dive incident in Palau in 1994 where 6 divers including 5 Japanese divers perished because none of the rescue boat can spot them because they have no visual object that will help the rescuers to easily spot them.

We then spot a dive sausage but with no divers.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 438I asked one of the dive master did we spot them. She said yes and it is at the other side of the boat. I signal to Kazuna their location. She looks relieved.

The boat do not go near to the dive sausage because this means that there are divers within the vicinity. Going near to the dive sausage will instead endanger their lives.

Soon the divers surfaced near to the dive sausage. The boat raced to the location to pick them up.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 441Kazuna look so happy. I finally understand the anxiety one felt when they loved ones is at the sea with no sight of them.

To my surprised, the divers spotted two sea turtles!

What rotten luck of mine!

The boat then begin the return journey to Dauin.

Before we disembark the boat, I am surprised that some Filipinas requested me to take a picture with them! I was quite overwhelmed I would say. This is the first time that is happening to me!

Overall the dive trip is good. The staff is professional and helpful. The dive master also take a moderate approach on the divers meaning it did not interfere too much during our dive but still keep a close watch on us.

Our dive master even spotted a sea octopus for us!

However, I have some concerns on how Harolds run the dive.

There is no verification of each diver’s dive certification. All we need to do is to write down our certification. All these are based on trust. However, I would prefer the dive center to verify the certification of the diver.

There is a 11-year-old boy with an Advanced Adventure certification which I find it quite unbelievable but I may be wrong.

If anything happen to a diver, the dive center will be question did the dive center actually verify the certification does the diver has.

If it does not, then the dive center will be at fault and will be penalised.

Secondly is the way they transport the diver. We are with the advance party but I am fortunate to sit at the front.

There are about 4 divers at the back of the truck with the gear and air tanks.

I do not know are the air tanks secured during movement. I have read enough of news in my own country that workers was hurt badly when they are transported in the same way. The equipment behind the truck fell into them and they are hurt real bad.

The third is the most serious.

After our first dive, Linn who came as a snorkeler was left behind at the first dive site when the boat proceed to the second dive site.

Fortunately for her, she is a good swimmer and she actually swam from the first dive site to the second! I was amazed by her skill! Most importantly is that she kept calm.

This means that the captain did not do a head count before the boat leave for the second dive site. (They did do a headcount after the second dive).

When I was diving with TSD in Malapascua, before we move the boat, the crew will do a roll count loudly to make sure everyone is around.

I am not trying to tell all of you to avoid Harolds Dive Center. It is because they are the one who can provide a reasonable rate to dive in Apo Island that I do not want them to get into any trouble. I hope they continue to operate and provide such affordable dive and so it is important that they have a good safety record.

When we reach back to the dive center, it is already 1600hrs. At the dive center, some divers exchange email addresses to keep in touch and exchange photos.

After getting my dive log endorsed, I make my way back to the hotel.

Tired and exhausted, I took a rest. I then get a text from Katya that I am invited to a birthday party. Though I am keen to go to see how Filipinos celebrate their birthdays, I am very hesitant to go because I am dressed in shorts and t-shirt only which I feel it is inappropriate. Furthermore I have no gift for the host!

In the end I return back to Harolds Mansion rooftop for some music while waiting for Katya.

In the hostel, I just chat up with some of the guest and before I leave, the owner of Harolds Mansion wanted to have a chat with me.

I actually feedback some of my concerns about the dive trip and he did not become defensive. I do hope he is really receptive to my comments.

The owner of Harolds is a nice guy to talk to. He is friendly and try to accommodate the guest request as much as possible.

After a nice chat with him, I made my way back to the hotel and pack my bag for tomorrow’s departure.

Day 4

I left the hotel at around 0655hrs. After waiting for some time without any luck for a trike, the guard hail a trike for me. He told me the fare is P30 to the airport.

The ride is like only 7 mins and I was at the airport early but the staff is already checking in the passenger. I was lucky to be there early because I was told that the flight has been overbook. I wonder what will happen to those passengers who come later.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 461 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 463The flight is a little late but we manage to reach NAIA 20 mins later than scheduled.

I took a white taxi from the arrival hall to Malate and the fare is P160. I check-in into Victoria Courts Standard room which cost me P945 for 6 hours.

The room is located at the second level and you need to walk up the flight of stairs. The room is really sleazy and really put you in the mood of…… you know what.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 465 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 466 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 467I quickly buy all the stuff that my wife wanted and in the end I have 6 bags.

I check out at 1730hrs and made my way to the airport. My check-in luggage weight is 30.5Kg and hand carry is 6kg.

NAIA T3 do have some improvement now. Now they even have a breast-feeding room and a new smoking room near to gate 109.

The flight is a little late but I still manage to be back in one piece.

Overall, I have tremendously enjoyed this trip. I would say that this is the best solo trip so far.

Dumaguete City

Dumaguete city gave me a unique feel. The city is like a boutique city with many small watering hole in many unexpected places.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 442 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 443 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 444 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 445 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 446 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 448 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 453For example, the walk from One Bethany Place to Harolds Mansion, I discover several small eateries or cafe along the way. There is even a wine shop!

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 449A hip hop place just behind a fuel station? Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 454Ibiza, this place look really cool!Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 452The Boulevard where residents can enjoy a good night out is not capitalize by the local government for financial gains but reserved for the residents.

Though the traffic is pretty bad here but as long as you are not along the main road, the traffic is still bearable.

Katya has also chosen a good accommodation for me. Though it is a little pricier but it is really good value for money as it is clean and it made me feel homely.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 455 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 456 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 457 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 458 Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 460However, I feel that the most important element in this trip is none other than Katya. She is a very good host and try to take care of me every time. She really made me feel welcomed.

I would like to thank Katya here. You really made my trip special.

Dumaguete, you really surprised me.

Philippines - Dumaguete June 2013 169


6 thoughts on “Philippines – Dumaguete, Bais & Apo Island – 6th June ~ 9th June 2013

  1. Hi, it was so nice to meet you, and I think the trip to Apo Islan was great. But I definitly have to agree with you. The safety regulations always have to come first! A mix of divers, snorklers of all different skills.. then the staff at the boat need to pay more attension. For me it was great, finally I could do whatever I wanted to, yes including beeing that “mad womad in the wather”. But then you have to know your skills, I saw a chance to get of my snorkeling equipment, and just go with the flow, (the wawes). I actually think it was warmer in the wather than in the wind and rain on the boat 😉
    (I hope I didn`t scare anyone to come to Norway.. The wawes in the fjords are not that big, but in the open Ocean they are, but we do have good boats here that are made for it and safety is very important in Norway. This kind of boat trip would not be allowed here. So come to Norway! We have amazing fjords, but be prepared of colder wather and weather.)

    But I understand the serious consern of leaving someone behind, it could have been a really bad accident, and especially couse of the current.. and ofcourse panic attac. Luckely it was me who got left behind! I came up from the wather… and couldn`t see the boat. I just started laughing, while swimming… I always wondered how it would be like to be at a stranded island, and there I was! But I managed to ask another boat where our boat was. They offered me to get in their boat, but when they knew when our boat was. I desided to take my time.. and enjoy a loooong snorkelig trip around half of the island 🙂 It was actually my best snorkelig experience ever, but definitly not for everyone. You have to know your skills and your limits!

    Thank you for sharing so many great Pictures, videos and story, I really enjoyed them… and I really want to og back soon!

    Great told story about your stay in Dumaguete. And funny too: Yeah, you saved 10P!

    I`ll send you Pictures and videos as soon as I get them organized, and ecpecially of the turtle you didn`t manage to see.
    I went scubadiving from Dauin, from the Beach, not from a boat some days later, this great turtle actually followed me… it was amazing.

    I went scubadiving for a whole day, a very nice philippino scubadiver and me spendt the whole day togheter. It was only 3000P… I didn`t even bother do discuss the price. I think it was good for a private instructor keeping his eyes on me every second, and also had great lunch togheter and he showed me all the hidden treasures, even got to meet some of his family and friends, and NO RUSH 🙂

    I would def. recommend a Whole day trip with a private local scubadiver!

    Stay safe, Linn 🙂

    1. Linn,

      Yes! Thankfully you are the one who got left behind. If it is one of the Filipinos or me who got left behind, we will soon be crying for our mother!

      With this experience, we finally have a chance to see a Norwegian swimming power! ow I always tell my friends not to mess with Norwegian woman in the water! Hahahah!!!

      By the way, do you have the contact with the private scuba diver? By the way, you look very smart in your wet suit! 🙂

  2. hamsap uncle finally have ppl want to take photo with u o..must be very happy with it right??want to hug someone as well??????haha..kidding and i love the video with group of dolphins swim together…amazing…yeap..the rubbish problem should settle it as fast as possible so that those dolphin can have a clean ocean for them to play and swim.. ^^

  3. thank you so much Linn..this is me Jane i just saw and just newly found out recently this blog of yours that taken many years for me to discover..i am flattered ..i am so touch by your thoughtful message..i cant imagine you have appreciated my service…i am thankful to God you been part of my life while at this field of service…thank you for trusting..this is my updated mobile number 09358623595 my old number that you posted was lost.thank you

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