We arrived mid day with the ferry from Liloan in Cebu to Dumaguete, which only took like 30 minutes. We took a tricycle all the way to Dauin for 450php, all though we knew there were jeepneys for much less, but we didn’t know exactly from where yet.
We had a sweet driver who acted like a tour guide, he was like ”This is the bla bla university, I work here during nights” ”This is the City Hall” ”This is this town” ”This is Robinson mall”. Dumaguete is quite a big city, with a lot of people and students. Somehow it reminded me a little bit of Santa Fe in Argentina, haha. The ride from the pier to Dauin was about 1,5 hours along the ”highway”.
We arrived at Bongo Bongo Divers and were a little confused because nobody sort of took care of us… We sat at the ”reception” for about 30 minutes before the receptionist came and showed us around – the kitchen area, the hammock area and the drink fridge – we got a paper with our names on and every time we took a beer or a coca cola from the fridge, we wrote it up on our paper, and we pay in the end. Very nice to always be able to have something cold to drink! There is always tea and coffee available too :)
Our room was very basic, it was a cute tree/bamboo double room with a nice window overlooking the garden, but the only thing in the room was the bed and a mosquito net. I would have wished for at last a chair or a night table or something, but but. Happy I have my packing cells so I could spread them out on the floor haha. The bed was very comfortable with a nice mattress, so we were happy, at least me, Duilio didn’t fit with his feet inside the bed, and he is only 1,76m, I wonder how it works for the really tall vikings, haha.
I’m glad we had a mosquito net, which we put up at night and made us feel protected, haha. Just above the ceiling of straws you could here weird noises during all night, it was either rats, birds or lizards (the lizards make a very particular sound), which felt like there were trying to bite through the ceiling. Good to have ear plugs! :)
Our dive instructor, Richard, was french and his girlfriend Virgina, was spanish. They were the first ones to greete us when we got there and were super nice. Richard was occupied with some Open Water students, so he asked if it was ok to start our Advanced Open Water course 2 days ahead, which was fine for us, since we were quite tired and wanted to relax a little bit.
We did one dive along the coast there next day though, to try the equipment and see a little bit what’s there. We went with Marvin who is an expert in Macro diving, and Virgina joined to. We put our dive gear on at Bongo Bongo and walked down to the beach and went in just there. At first it was only sandy bottom, and I was like ”Well…. Where is the amazing diving everyone is talking about here in Dauin?” but then we came across many different cool creatures we’ve never seen before. Me and Duilio would never have been able to see it if they didn’t point it out, and in the end it was almost our favorite dive haha.
We saw a thorny seahorse, so cute, it was all curly and sweet. We saw lion fishes and scorpion fishes as we have seen before though, we saw flat fish, a big crab, and we came across hairy frog fish which is quite unique. We also spotted a very cool fire urchin!
We also saw 4 flamboyant cuttlefish, which Virgina said wasn’t the easiest to come across. And they were amazing! They look something between a mini elephant and a squid haha, and they change colors so they can camouflage themselves. On their backs you can see like waves of colors changing, and then from like a deep purple redish color it becomes the same color as the sandy bottom and then back. It was really fascinating to watch. One of them was hunting and took out like a long thing tongue and ate something; don’t know what it was though. But it was really cool, have it on video. :) Anyhow, we were very happy about that coastal dive :)
In bongo there where almost only Danish people, Virginia told us it was 26 people staying at Bongo Bongo of which 19 where Danish! Haha. Quite many. I mean, Denmark is a very small country! Haha. One of the owners of Bongo Bongo is a Danish guy, Magnus, and somehow when Danish people look for dive schools around Apo island, they find Bongo Bongo.
We stayed in Dauin for 6 nights, but we never really had a conversation with any of the Danish except for Magnus mother who where giving me a lot of compliments all the time hehe, and Stefan and his girlfriend. Stefan is doing his Dive Master there and staying for a couple of months. One day they arrived with groceries and we asked them where they had bought it, and they told us about a super market in the Robinson mall in Dumaguete, which we had passed on the way here.
Next day we took a jeepney for 15php per person to the Robinson mall and wow, it was a weird feeling, it felt like I was in Spain. First time we see a mall and a big super market in Philippines, we have only been in local markets and small kiosks. The mall had a lot of shops – clothes, jewelry, massage, a cinema and everything. But the super market was amazing. I was so happy to buy soya milk and cereal, kikos (like toasted corn, very typical from spain), wine and peanut butter, feta cheese, broccoli, kidney beans… It all ended up quite expensive though, about 2500php, but it was worth it. We had breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the whole week.
We got our Padi advanced books and chose which adventure dives we wanted to do for the course. To do the advanced open water you have to do 5 adventure dives. Obviously there are some which you can’t do in the Philippines, like the dry suit or the altitude diving. There are two obligatory ones – the Deep dive and the Navigation dive, and then we chose Peak performance buoyance dive, night dive and drift dive.
We went to Apo island to do the deep dive down to 30 m, where you also take with you a card with different color dots, and when you are 30m under you look at the card and write down what colors you see. The colors change in the depth, the red was dark brown and the orange was more of a light brown. At Apo island it was filled with corals and we saw a couple of big turtles, so cute!
The second dive at Apo island was the drift dive, we started at Coconut point, went down quickly all together in one place and drifted with the current to another place. You didn’t have to fin anything, just go along with the current, drifting from the entry point to the exit point. You see a lot on the way, but there isn’t time to get a close look at anything really haha. The boat picked us up at another point. I noticed that I have learnt to breath better, in the end of the dive I still had over 100 psi left, so we who had a little bit left dived under the boat for about other 15 minutes before ascending.
Then we did a third dive there, just a fun dive, and I really enjoyed that one, we were only 3 divers and 2 dive masters, and it was very calm and we had time to observe and look at things calmly. After that we headed back to Daiun.
I was super tired when we got back home, after filling in our log books we decided to have dinner out.
We walked around a bit in Dauin looking for a mexican restaurant we had heard of but we never found it. But we got to see some of Dauin, which is very calm, and people are sooo friendly and genuin. They sit outside their houses and say ”hi! Good afternoon! Hello, how are you?” it’s really the feeling of a small little town where everybody knows each other.
We were surprised to see so many big mansions there though, they have huge colorful houses with big gardens and stuff, mixed with the neighboring house which was made of bamboo. And also; everywhere you see dogs, cows, roosters and even goats! You have to sleep with ear plugs, because they sound all night!
We ended up having dinner at the Dive café around the corner of Bongo bongo, where we had our first breakfast before going to the mall. We met Soo who we had dived with earlier at Apo island today there. Apparently there was a buffet that night, eat all you can, and we never heard the price until after… 350 php per person!! Quite expensive… but we were very full after that haha. It was our most expensive dinner though.
Next day we did the Peak Performance Buoyance, and now I understand why everyone always look so surprised when we say we dive with 8kgs each (both me and Duilio). In the end we noticed we only need about 3 kgs each. We dived through some rings and did some hovering.
We also did the navigation dive with a compass, going straight ahead, doing a 180 degrees turn and getting back to the same point. I sort of missed a little bit there because I saw a crab going into the sand, and I turned around to see if Richard had seen it, and then I didn’t know where I had been heading the first time, so turning back got a little bit miss calculated. . We learned to count kick cycles and we clocked ourselves on 20m. It was fun. I was a little bit scared when I was going to do my square navigation, because we did it alone, and you have to change the bezel 90 degrees to do the square, and if you put it wrong you loose orientation, and I was afraid of getting lost alone, but I did it right and got back :) It took a while though since I went like 1 minute in each direction. But it was very cool!
Our last adventure dive was the night dive, we went in just when the sun was about to get down, with our lanterns. It was really cool, the colors change during night. We saw a huge squid, like 1 m! And we saw a sleeping turtle in a small cave. We dived around a sunken little boat where there were many lionfishes too. We did the dive with another Danish couple who where doing the advanced course, they had just done their open water course and now suddenly I was the most experienced one after Richard, haha, so I tried to had that in mind, but after getting kicked from the Danish girl like 5 different times in the head, I ended up pushing her body from me every time she approached and touched me. I don’t know if she couldn’t calculate distance or anything, but she could come from above you and doing a narrow descend just in front of you kicking with the fins on your tank and in the face, or trying to squeeze in between me and Richard even if it was only like 40 cm between us, so she pushed me to the side – but sometimes I couldn’t go to the side because there were corals there or something – so I had to just stop, stay still, hold my mask and regulator so they didn’t get kicked of, until she had hustled herself next to Richard, and then continue behind them. It happened so many times I couldn’t believe it, both me and Duilio where like ”WTF?!” haha.
We are both happy we did the advanced course after doing a few dives in-between, to get more out of it and understand more about yourself as a diver. Like Virgina, all though she is a little extreme haha, she is a super experienced diver with over 300 dives, but she didn’t do the advanced until a couple of weeks ago, haha. I think it would be good to have minimum 15 or 20 dives before doing the advanced at least. Richard has been great too, always happy and with a lot of energy. :)
After the night dive we celebrated that we were done with our advanced open water course with a nice dinner and wine – the one we had bought earlier at the super market– oh, it was so good!! I have missed to drink wine, haha. Wine here is very expensive compared to beer, but in the super market we found a bottle for 184 php, about 3-4 euros, from Argentina. We thought we’ll try it at least – and it was good! :)
We stayed one more day just relaxing, reading book in the hammock and having a pizza and a drink at a resort with a nice pool, and then we decided to move on a little bit earlier.
We ate breakfast calmly, packed our bags, donated the rest of our food to Monica and John from Spain and England that arrived yesterday, and took the jeepney to Dumaguete Market, for 15 php each, then a tricycle to the Pier for 17 php each. Quite much cheaper then how we got here! All though we had to be in a crowded hot jeepney for over an hour, but I like it, to do it the local way :) We also started talk to a Philipino in the jeepney that where living in Saudia Arabia since 9 years back, only visiting their home city for some vacations now, and they helped us with the tricycle to the Pier, so sweet.
The ocean jet ferry from Dumaguete to Tagbilarean in Bohol leaves 2 times a day, one at 7.30 and one 15.00, and cost 700php. There’s a terminal fee for 15php and then if you have a big backpack that you have to check in (only one hand luggage allowed), it costs 70php per bag. The check in is one hour earlier. We got here around 12, so we had plenty of time, but we enjoyed it in the cool waiting hall, the internet is quite fast here too. :)
I just have to write down how many compliments I get about my hair (dreads). It’s so funny, completely different from Europe. Just boarding the boat, three crew members said “Nice hair!” to me. One even asked if he cut have one dread, haha. But yeah, everywhere, just if we are passing by people by the street, they say it out loud. Adorable. I’m very happy with it. :)
Next stop: Bohol!