As you know snorkelling is my favourite thing in the world which was lucky as there’s nothing else to do on ghastly old Panglao. Although normally I am of a Panglossian nature, even I saw no merits on the island, only the sea surrounding it. So my lucky chance meeting at breakfast meant I was suddenly on the back of a motorbike, wind in my hair and off to buy tickets on a private boat. We arrived at the mayhem that had all the boat and tour rental offices everyone of them touting loudly for business. I stayed perched on the back of the bike as we drove around bartering.

Clambering round the rocks to my private beach.

Now as I said before my friend Andreas and I were already familiar enough to squabble. He wanted to get the cheaper tour boat but I was stubbornly sticking to my guns.

‘I don’t want to go with loads of fucking tourists.’ I said, knowing I was going to get my own way. He tutted and fretted.

‘Scheisse, but it costs too much‘ he lamented, but then a guy came running up to us with a reduced price for half a day and we took it. Vroom vroom off to the boat we went.

The boat was the normal type that I was now accustomed to and the trip to the coral island snorkelling area only about half an hour so we were in business for what turned out to be a good day. It was still early and we had the boat till lunchtime so I was in good spirits with my new pal sat by me. I knew as it was so early we would avoid the hoards and also see slightly different fish making a show.

Such a rude bastard!

Night Snorkelling Ideas. Top Tip.

Top Tip: At this point I should mention that you can hop aboard a night diving trip to snorkel if they have space and although I didn’t get round to it it’s supposed to be very exciting. Even us modest snorkellers will see stuff simply not out in the day. Eels, octopuses, lobsters and shrimps will come out, and if you’re lucky, bio-luminescent plankton glows eerily when you swoosh the water about.

Shrimps have highly reflective eyes so when you get hundreds of them on a rock or reef they glitter like a multitude of stars.

Coral and a myriad of tiny fish.

The corals of course are also completely different to look at when open at night, with their fantastical fanned flowers wafting in the sea current and apparently the odd ray might come and investigate you. Although I have yet to do it I’ve been told it’s a wonderful, if spooky experience, especially if there’s a full moon. I’ll get around to it on my next trip I hope and if you’ve done it I’d love to hear about it. So old birds if you have a chance go for it it seems a very special thing to do.

Coral gardens.

Anyhoo, I digress. This time I was persuaded to use flippers, or fins if you will. Previously I had always stuck to my canvas shoes preferring the idea I could stand on rocks if the current became too strong and I wanted to stop myself being bashed around. Also I always seem to get some mask or snorkel malfunction and I wasn’t confident enough to do that treading water. The fins however, my dear old birds, do enhance the experience and are worth getting accustomed to. You can more rapidly pursue a fishy of interest, and dive down much more easily to get those photos of the bottom lurkers.

Alert: This however does have to be monitored as I found out in Indonesia when whilst swimming with a turtle I became so enthralled that I lost sense of time and finally looked about me to see I had swum approximately a quarter of a mile out to sea! The swim back was very scary and I was severely told off by my boat crew, plus I suffered sunstroke as I had just been whizzing along on the surface and not diving at all to cool my head like I normally would do. So don’t forget the fins are great but you can become a little cavalier like I did.

My turtle in Bunaken Indonesia.

On this swim I saw a lot of fish and from time to time bobbed my head up to shout to Andreas and swear a little. All was well with the world and it was really lovely to have someone to share it with after a month of being solo. He was a buddy and suitably foul, and although I met others on that trip he is still my favourite hence us deciding to catch up in Guatemala last year.

Underwater garden.

The days there were only swimming and berating the hotel and each other, riding around on the motorbike and travelling to town to sort out the dreaded bank fuckup for Andreas. It was the end of his trip and the middle of mine so he was starting to have the dread of returning home to Germany.

Big Beetles, Noisy Cockerels and Power Cuts.

The nights at the hotel were always challenging, always some kind of critter coming in to ambush you. One night during one of my many visits to the loo for a wee (probably due to some kind of bladder infection from the sand) I saw a huge beetle in my bag. This was better than a cockroach but still very worrying and seeing as it was slow I wrapped it in a towel which I put outside my door, then whimpering back to the loo again. That night I had many chances to check to see if there was any more wildlife about on the walls or ceiling except my lizard which was fine. I finally slept around three and of course was woken a couple of hours later by those darned cockerels.

A. had complained a lot about them as they roamed right next to his bedroom and became very old very quickly. At breakfast we both moaned about them then I showed him the towel that contained my ‘huge’ beetle. It looked a little insignificant in the morning light. Like most things, they always turn big at night. The days were filled with running to the shower when the electric came back on for hot showers and charging your gear. The cut offs happened at various time and without warning so we were always aware that we could suddenly be plunged into darkness and any ice we were trying to save in our little fridge would be a bag of water after a while.

Andreas big jump!

There was a place that you could just rent your snorkelling stuff and go down a steep path to swim around the shore line, or if you dared, jump off the cliff on a diving board to the waters below. I have to confess I chickened out on that score my vertigo would not allow, but in retrospect I should have done it and certainly would if offered another chance. After sitting in the sun and going in and out the water we got peckish. Returning we stopped at a restaurant come guest house where we had had a quick coffee in the morning and they had been really friendly. They had fresh fish outside on ice and were out of town, so was going to be a better bet than in town. We chose from the fish (I finally chose lasagne ffs!) A. had the stuffed squid that was indeed excellent (or so he said I couldn’t fancy it personally). A little karaoke had started over the street which was an omen of things to come later in my trip, so I said maybe it was time to call it. However then we noticed what was to become a constant topic of conversation over the next couple of days. It was about a creepy guy.

Stuffed squid.

The man in question was Dutch guy staying there and who was rather overly familiar with the restaurant practically claiming it as his own. He had around him a posse of very young men and boys and girls. He was buying them drinks and giving away cigarettes and from time to time would get up to clear tables boasting he had stayed here for his holidays for years. They were like family he liked saying, occasionally disappearing of to the back with one of them. This was the start of my educating Andreas about the sex industry all over that part of Asia. While chomping away at his dinner I mentioned that was what was going on right now. Slack jawed he disagreed. Surely not? I was kinda deviant myself for just saying it. He refused to believe it.

My tiny cove at the far end of the beach.

Next day, when we went to town to sort out his bank problem and were sitting in the mall there to eat a much yearned for burger, he saw a bar with a lot of fat ugly old men sat with pretty young things. A kind of sweetie shop for the lecherous dribbling sex tourists. They obviously had been using it as a pick up joint for ever and greeted new comers in a chummy way. Although vile to see, Andreas was mesmerised. ‘You see what I mean?’ I said. I could barely get a word from him except for him constantly saying ‘Look, look another one’s turned up!’ Poor Andreas had had his proof of what really goes down with the seedy side of the sex industry over there. He was morbidly fascinated and continued his sport while I went off to buy a swimming costume for the next leg of my trip.

When I got back he was still staring. ‘Look, look’ he muttered urgently ‘You were right! All those men are waiting for girls. They are being ordered by that guy on the phone!’ I cast a jaded eye on a bunch of translucently white old hideous British men who were lurking with their beers expectantly. They obviously had no time to catch some rays so looked like deep sea creatures that no longer need pigment for protection ‘I did tell you’ I said grumpily to my wonderfully naïve companion. This would be an ongoing source of amazement to him and I felt so sad at opening his eyes to this sordid trade.

This is from the post SWIMMING WITH WHALE SHARKS IN THE PHILIPPINES. Alert: My pal Andreas had this problem in the Philippines in Panglao. I had to drive with him on the back of a motorbike for over an hour to Bohol after an island machine stole his money. Now when I say stole I mean it. It said for him to wait for his cash and when it wasn’t forthcoming he checked on his phone and saw it had withdrawn it from his account. This shit thing wasted hours at a mainland bank and caused stress to both my mate and me. (he refused to snorkel til I helped him, what an arsehole!) I wonder how much money is ripped off by banks in this way?

The Good Bits at White Sands

While insulting this place I must add there was a lovely part to White Sands that was just a short walk away. Looking at the pics now I remember leaving A to sunbathe and lying prone on the main part of the beach which although was beautiful failed to inspire me (‘I’m not even brown for fucks sake.’ said he) The far end had little secret paths into the jungle and fishing boats high on the beach. There were coconuts and sand crabs, huge rocks jutting from the water. It was beautiful and wild and all that I had expected from this place. Sadly the next morning when I took A to see it the tide was in, the weather overcast, and it just looked shit. It was horrid….oh well I had seen it in its beauty at least.

Art on the beach.

At the Airport for some Drama.

The next day the heavens opened on the way to the airport. The airport itself was a tiny miserable affair and outside there was a shabby little restaurant where we had a bite to eat gloomily looking out at the torrential rain little knowing of the next drama. I was excited to be on my way to Manila to a posh overnight stay in a glam hotel that I had booked in preparation to subsequently going to a volcano nearby, but sad to be leaving my German friend. As it transpired, my flight which was to be earlier than Andreas’ got delayed by five hours. I admit I had been smug that I would be leaving earlier than him and had gone through their dinky but stringent security before I found out this awful news. The place was jam packed with desolate tourists half of which were lying on the floor and the news was changing minute by minute as the the thunderous rain crashed down on the roof. I looked at Andreas with horror. I wasn’t bloody hanging around there for hours not being sure even that my flight wouldn’t be cancelled finally.

Boom! I went into fast thinking mode and demanded that I be let back out to cancel my ticket and get another onto the flight that my mate was lucky enough to be leaving on right now. The woman at the Air Asia desk was graceful if a little surprised at my decision and did the wicked deed. I had been panicked into a near super woman mode and managed to do it in an efficient way. Grabbing my new ticket and boarding pass I rushed back through the bemused security control, a shadow of the smiling woman I had been just half an hour earlier. Boom! I struggled through the hordes of desperados in the waiting area and threw myself at the gate desk showing my boarding pass with trembling hands. Boom! I ran over the airstrip to the waiting glorious oh so glorious plane. Boom! I was up those stairs to the cosy interior of the plane, dripping wet but triumphant. I saw A. a few seats back who looked astonished, well you know us tough old birds don’t you?

I didn’t care the flight was rough for a change. In a bizarre way anything was better than being stuck in that hellhole. On arriving at Manila I was already keen to crack on and it made for a slightly awkward goodbye to my chum as we rushed off to get going in opposite directions with a speedy ‘Bye bye’.

Poor broken feet!


Next part of my adventure is going on horseback up a volcano to see its amazing acid lake, do join me!