Philippines Day 6

Dive day!  Had a nice continental breakfast at Oops (toast and butter, mango and a cup of tea), and ordered a ham+cheese sandwich to take on my dive.  At 9:30am I headed to Alova Diver.  They had 2 boats going to Balicasan.  My gear was already loaded onto one of the boats.  The boat was full of Chinese from Hong Kong.  I was the only foreigner.  I predicted a crazy couple of dives.  I didn’t expect the Chinese to be able to follow rules, judging their reputation as insensitive travellers.  My hypotheses were proved right!  Thought they were friendly towards me after a while, they completely ignored the divemaster.

Dive 1 was a drift dive in strong current at a place called Black Sand.  Depth was 30m + and a variety of fish were seen, much more thanon Apo.  The dive was an organisational shambles.  The Chinese had cameras, and were shooting off all over the place, whereever they liked.  There was no buddy system.  I started at the back, but was seeing more divers than fish, so went up to the divemaster and stuck with him.  The Chinese didn’t follow the divemaster at all.  They went deep out of sight and in front, ignoring him.  It took some fun away from the dive.  As we rose up and entered shallower coral territory, we were confronted with Triggerfish.  The divemaster gave no indication, so I wasn’t aware of their aggression.  Unaware, I carried on into Triggerfish territory.  Suddenly, I felt a tremendous whack on my goggles.  I thought I’d struck the divemasters fin, but then there was another whack, then another.  I was being attacked by Triggerfish, and they had a powerful headbutt!  My goggles were smashed hard against my face and filled with water.  The next whack almost took the mask off, but I managed to blindly grabit and clear the mask before a Triggerfish could attack my unprotected face.  I tried to swim out of the danger zone.  The divemaster came to the rescue.  A humorous scene followed.  the divemaster withdrew his knife as though he were about to grapple with a shark.  The Triggerfish drew back slowly, and then catapultd itself forward toward the divemaster.  He thrust his blade toward it, and it backed away.  It was an a hilarious ‘battle’ between the little aggressive Triggerfish (they are a bit bigger than a human head) and the knife-wielding divemaster.  A dual of a less traditional kind.

We surfaced soon after the Chinese surfaced.  On the boat, the divemaster warned the Chinese about theit rebellious behaviour.  They didn’t care.  Dive 2 was magnificent, though again marred slightly by the erratic Chinese.  This time they all went down to 54m!  Going down to 50m, one sucks up a lot more air.  Within 10 minutes, one of the divers was completely out of air.  He had to use my reserve regulator for a while, but I wasn’t interested in halving my dive time to help a stupid diver continue to dive after using up all his air.  The poor divemaster shared his air for 15 minuted before they had to surface.  I stayed down with the Chinese and was rewarded with possibly the most beautiful wall dive I’ve ever done.  The corals and fish were varied and beautiful.  Bigger fish loomed out of the deep blue.  Visibility was better than before. This was the diving highlight of the trip so far.  I was with the final 3 divers who surfaced.  A fantastic day out.

In the evening, I indulged myself in a lovely Italian place overlooking the ocean, lost in the aimless reveries that are the lone travellers sole source of enjoyment.  After a glass of red wine I moved down to the beach front, and sat down in Pyramid beach bar.  After a beer I noticed that the bar had a table football in the corner, and that only 3 people were using it.  They needed a fourth, so I joined them.  2 Germans and a Canadian.  The Germans friends, the Canadian also a lone traveller.  I joined the small rat-looking blonde German, who took his table football very seriously. Very seriously indeed.  I took charge of the goalkeeper and the defenders, giving him the chance of glory in midfield and attack.  After each goal he scored he would bark something sarcastically at his German friend.  Other times he would comment on his players neat finishing.  “Vat a nice goal Klinsmann”  he rasped.  They scored against us.  “Bad keeping, Oliver Khan”  I chirped.  He didn’t laugh.

After we gave them a drubbing, I sat down next to the Canadian guy for a good chinwag.  It turned out he was living in Kyoto, teaching English, and living the kind of ridiculously easy existence that I myself once gladly led.  He told me he was teaching in a High School, teaching a whopping 6 hours a week.  I used to teach 12 hours.  We shared a few stories, and compared some of the quirkiness of Japanese people that makes living there both immensley enjoyable and teeth-grindingly frustrating at the same time.  Apparantly now in Kyoto they have opened up a Sam and Daves club.  Ahhh, Sam and Daves.  Or Sam and Graves.  Or STD’s as we used to call it.  The club to go to pick up a geijin-hunter.  Or to pick up something that only a strong course of antibiotics would shift.  There are 3 in Osaka.  Fond memories.  Used to go all the time as nightclub options were pretty limited.  It was nice to share some stories with him.

Soon the Germans were asking – rather instructing – us to play again.  This time it was me and the Canadian guy vs the Germans.  They were on fire, and obviously spent far too much time playing table football.  One annoying rule that only professional table football players adhere to is the ‘no spinning’ rule.  I found it much less enjoyable.  The fun of table football is spinning and spinning until your hands are red raw.  This version was rubbish.  We got trounced.  “Ze Germans vin again” crowed the blonde one.  “Another game?”  “No thanks”  I replied.  Time to get out.

The Canadian guy and I went to Oops bar and drank and drank and drank.  San Miguel, rum and coke, even the super strong Red Horse ‘Stallion’ beer.  A huge family of Irish were there.  Some 20 people.  They were pissed and shouting and swearing and dancing and falling and generally having the time of their lives over scenes similar to a tropical ‘Titanic’ movie.  The Irish certainly know how to have a party.  3am passed, and I was falling asleep at the bar.  I staggered back to my room in 5 minutes – a journey that would normally take 30 seconds – and crashed into bed exhausted.

Author: Neil

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