Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Turtles, whale sharks and freediving course

After one week away from Sophia and lots of adventures, we're now both back onboard and boy oh boy, she sure is home sweet home. It's been so much fun to be off her and do something totally different (well, still visiting beautiful islands and snorkelling), but backpacking is different from cruising. One of the biggest differences is we have met so many young white people, haha. Probably the most since New Zealand. Backpackers are young, most even younger than us, and cruisers are old, broad generalisation, but pretty true. Maybe I'm getting old, but I really like my own bed every night, being able to do my own cooking, and having all my things handy.

 As already mentioned in the last blog post, we left Sophia in Carmen and travelled to Apo Island where we had two great days. It's a tiny island with great reef life, lots of big turtles and fish, even just right off the beach. I did two dives, the first one a drift dive, soooo much fun and beautiful life and we probably almost covered about a third of the island's coast because we drifted so fast. The other one I did was a night dive, just off the beach, but it was super cool and we saw huge sleeping turtles, big nudibranches, scrimps, tiny baby squid (half little finger nail sized), a tiny frog fish and a scorpion fish.
 After Apo Island we went back to Durmagete where we celebrated Phil's birthday (35, he's getting pretty old) with a nice German backpacker couple. They also told us of this place south of Cebu City called Oslob where you can see whale sharks right off the coast, so we had to give that a go, as we had otherwise planned to go way up north to Donsol where you can also see them.
 We weren't really sure what to expect, but we got into this little banka (the Philipino style outrigger boats) and were paddled out to several small tiny bankas that are feeding the whale sharks squid or crill. The whale sharks were basically like puppies following the bankas, sticking their head right up inbetween the ourrigger and what looked like begging for food!!!! OK, so it wasn't quite the wild life experience, but nonetheless, it was still really cool to see the whale sharks right up close in the water with them. They are in family with sharks and look a bit like a gigant flat-ish shark, but they eat plancton like whales. The ones we saw (there were seven in total that stick around although they are free to leave) were maybe 3-5 meters long. You're supposed to keep a distance of at least 4 meters, but in reality they were much closers and I kept having to move back so they wouldn't touch me.
 At Oslob Phil and I split up, I went to Moalboal to do a freediving course, but Phil wasn't as keen, and especially not with a broken toe, so he went back to Carmen to Sophia. It was again the first time in we don't even know how long, that we didn't sleep together, and first time in over nine month that we weren't together 24/7 round the clock.

Over the weekend I did a beginner freediving course and I loved it. I learned a lot of interesting things and did much better than I had ever thought I would. Total brag, but I held my breath for 3.38 minutes, and my best freedive (one single breath of air) was to 26.4 meters. It was also fun to do some learning (super teacher does that) and being part of a 'team' with the other guys on the course. Now I just look forward to even more enjoyable snorkelling.
 Now we're back in Port Carmen and are heading off to Camotes tomorrow morning and will continue cruising through Philippines.

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