I am currently sitting at a table in an adorable restaurant in a little grass shack overhanging the ocean. Reggae music is playing and the vibes are good. The sun is setting behind one of the offshore island, and the smell of the ocean is wafting in the air. Life is pretty damn good today. Also I hate that I’m on my phone while sitting in such a beautiful setting but I don’t want to waste any downtime. I’m skipping around with this post because I want to write about my day while it’s still fresh in my mind, I’ll find time to write about yesterday eventually as it was a pretty huge day!
So today I woke up early and started to research places to stay and kind of get a game plan of what I want to do. Once Kylie and Erin woke up and we all head breakfast we agreed to go snorkeling on the “house reef”. Right in front of our dice resort is the ocean. Along with a dive center, three boats, and the glorious ocean. The backdrop of our little hotel house/room is unbelievably beautiful. Anyways, right out on the house reef were soft corals unlike anything I’ve ever seen. So many colors and shapes species I have never seen. It was so diverse and beautiful. The corals were dancing with the waves and I could stare at this scene for hours. I saw my first clownfish (nemo) hiding out in a huge sea anemone. The family of clownfish kept on swimming in and out of the anemone it reminded me clearly of finding nemo, it was super cool. Beyond these corals was a steep dropout, also called a “wall”. This is a great place for diving, but equally beautiful for snorkeling. We even saw a turtle! It was so much fun. I wish I could describe the fish hiding amongst the coral, the wildlife thriving in Such an incredible ecosystem, the sun beams dancing off the coral. I guess you’ll just have to experience it yourself!
After our dive we took a little tuktuk to Palasangma (I definitely didn’t spell that right) but it was the same little area we had dinner in earlier. I love this spot. It’s a little touristy so there’s some souvenirs shops and restaurants, but there’s plenty to do. There’s a little backpacking hostel here so I reserved a room for the evening. I also bought a nice whale shark t-shirt that said “save me I’m almost extinct” I thought it was pretty great. We had lunch in one of the many tropical bar/restaurants next to the beach. It was also super cute with the thatched roof, tropical decor, and even a cool looking tree in the middle of the bar. Eventually the tuktuk returned to pick us up and we headed back to Magic Island for one last time. We sorted our belongings, paid our bills, and Kylie and Erin departed for the airport and I got dropped off near the hostel. I checked in and put my pack near my bed and locked up my passport and money. The hostel was exactly what you would picture paying $4 a night, but I really really love it. There’s a room of 10 bunk beds, each with its own mosquito net. It reminded me very much of my year studying abroad. It actually was sort of comforting. The hot nights, fans whirling, and getting caught in my mosquito net 100 times. There’s hammocks hung throughout the hostel, and even a little bamboo room on the roof which is cozy.
After I put my stuff down I decided to go for a little snorkel. I went in the water just right near my hostel, and it was a little weird at first being the only one out there, but the locals assured me it’s safe and no one would hit me with their boat. I saw a turtle, pretty coral, and tons of fish. And as I see every time I step into the ocean, a damn barracuda. But it’s ok he wasn’t as scary looking as the massive ones I’ve seen in Turks and Caicos. After 20 minutes I got out to rest when I met two little girls selling souvenirs. They spoke really good English because they learn it in school. We were talking about the ocean and I asked them if they have ever seen the sardines (what this beach is known for). They told me they swim in the ocean every day but don’t have a snorkel so they can’t see what’s underwater. I decided to rent them each a snorkel set, it was super cheap and they were so damn cute. They ran home to take off their school outfits, and met me at my hostel. They were smiling ear to ear, so excited to see underwater. I taught them how to blow out of the snorkel and clear their mask, and then we headed out. As soon as we got out there a huge turtle passed right by us. They were screaming and laughing and so happy, which obviously made me so happy. There’s nothing I love as much as watching how happy the ocean makes people. They could not stop saying “thank you”! We all held hands and swam out a bit deeper where the sardines were. Again, it never ceases to amaze me the number and magnitude of this bait ball. There are so many, and the school is so dense. I was showing them how to dive down deep, and looking up and being surrounded by a wall of fish 50 feet high. It’s incredible. We were even surprised by a school of tuna hunting the sardines, causing them to dart very fast all around us, creating an amazing scene. We rested on one of the boats that was tired up to a buoy, and jumped off. Their little friend joined us and he was having so much fun climbing like a monkey all over the boat. We swam for hours, looking at coral reef fish and jumping off a little pier. I had a lot of fun and I think we were all enjoying each other’s company. I sincerely believe that you can’t protect something unless you understand it. And now that these girls have felt the joy that the ocean can bring, I hope with all my heart that they can someday help protect it. Without sounding too teachery- I tried teaching them a little bit about conservation and how over fishing could be harmful. We spent the last half hour picking up trash and cleaning up the reef a little. We even had a competition to see who could get the most! It was a good time! Eventually they had to go home to eat dinner, and I spent an hour beach combing, collecting SO many shells. Like hundreds. I love shells and this was my personal heaven. I can’t way to craft and display them in my room to remind me of this incredible trip to the Philippines. I absolutely love it here.
After the sun set, I headed to the restaurant (where I was previously typing this) then showered at the hostel. This is when I met another backpacker named Naomi who had been here for a few weeks and she took me under her wing. She’s so nice and introduced me to all the other backpackers and we headed out to a local bar for some drinks and games of pool. I met a bunch of locals who were so cool, and also so much better at pool than me. The music was so good, and the scene really reminded me of nights out at the bar in Turks and Caicos. It brought back such good memories. I went home at midnight and crashed in my little mosquito net bunk bed. I fell asleep to the sound of horrible karaoke singers, barking dogs, and motorcycle engines. It only took be about one minute until I was sound asleep.