05.05.2009 - 10.05.2009
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That morning we caught our flight to Manila, jumped on the local bus heading south to Batangas, and then grabbed a one hour boat to Puerto Galera. The different boat companies heading to Galera are absolutely ridiculous with tons of staff members almost attacking you trying to have you purchase a ticket with them. There are warning signs about the likelihood of being scammed or over-charged, but we didn’t seem to find any other option. We were told on the bus by a nice man to ignore these people and head towards the building marked “Terminal” but even the security guards told us to head towards the blood-thirsty hawkers. We arrived to Puerto Galera after the dive shop, Action Divers, had already closed, so we found a really great guesthouse, which over in this area is pretty much like an apartment, furnished with bathroom, tv, and a kitchen (we were very excited about this aspect). So in a sense, this day was also lost to travel bringing us to a total of 5 days of travel and 3 days of activities. A pretty miserable ratio, but we’re making the most of what we can.
The next day we began our first step towards getting certified. The dive shop came highly recommended, and most of the staff there are Australian. We watched some movies, took a few quizzes, and had my first experience of diving underwater (Jessie previously did a Discover Dive back in Barbados). All-in-all a very good day, especially since it was raining the entire time, and I’m really excited about our next dives to come.
We lucked out the first day we arrived and found a pretty sweet guesthouse for the 4-night stay. Most places along the beach were charging anywhere from 30-60 USD, but we were able to bargain for almost an apartment style room, with bathroom, tv, queen sized bed, and kitchen all for 12 USD a night. So that was definitely an additional bonus to our certification since it meant we could shop in the markets and make some delicious meals. The following day we finished our coursework and completed a second dive off the shore and ended our class the next half-day with two more boat dives. The first three dives weren’t that interesting with respect to the types of fish swimming around, the attraction was mainly due to the corals and different sea slugs. However, the fourth dive was much more enjoyable since we got to see eels, large fish, a barracuda, three wreck sites, and some other larger sea animals. Our last day in Puerto Galera we decided to do one more final dive, our first while certified, and it was another good experience, more similar to the first three than the fourth, so not overly interesting, but still fun.
Once class ended each day we stayed active by touring around the area for different beaches and views of the surrounding islands. When the weather permitted we took a walk to an old lighthouse perched on a hill providing nice views of the surrounding waters, and we also rented a motorbike and drove to a few more beaches that were really nice, white beach and talisay beach. The weather started to clear up a bit each day, but showers would fall throughout the day. It started raining again in Manila right as we arrived to the bus terminal, so obviously the typhoon hasn’t fully fled yet. We’re currently on a night bus headed to Banaue in Northern Luzon, where the world famous rice terraces are located. Should be a blast!