Philippines under water

I recently spent 2 weeks snorkeling in the Philippines with a WWF group. Much of the trip centered around the northern part of the island of Palawan. To get there we took a small plane from Manila, then a 90 minute van ride followed by a long ride in a small boat. I could tell you the exact transit but I’m not really interested in doing a travelogue, although I will make a few traveler comments. FYI, at the last rushed moment leaving the house, I left my Nikon behind. That’s why all the dry land photos are from my phone and aren’t good.

Below are signs about two unfamiliar cultural things. When I saw these, I confess to having a very strong and unladylike reaction. Here are the signs. Feel free to have your own reaction. (The first was taken on the sly with my phone in the customs area of the Manila airport and I was laughing so hard the focus is off. Sorry about that. I just managed to get the shot when a security guy came over and I scooted back inside the ropes. Maybe he suspected I was a wang-wanger. I don’t know!)

 

 

wangwang

sumSpec

About the first sign, I was told it refers to people who are working some sort of scam. If this is the case, I’m not sure what the line up comment refers to. The second sign is encouragement for a procedure that is often not done until the adolescent years.

In the cities, we saw a lot of security. I think there’s security everywhere the locals think foreigners might go, but I doubt if they’ve got sniffing dogs and armed guards in front of stores where the working people shop. Didn’t get a chance to go around Manila so I can’t say for sure. However, even out in the middle of the islands, one of the boatmen every day brought an assault weapon with us on the boat with lots of spare clips. I found this unsettling. The last kidnapping in the Palawan area was about ten years ago, other locations only five years ago, but who’s counting…

Manila looked like it has areas for the very rich and for the poor and very little in between. The atmosphere is laden with auto fumes and everywhere you look there are lots and lots and lots of people and vehicles of every possible kind, mostly gas powered. Here’s a view from the airplane. Again, taken with a phone, as are all of the dry land photos. You can see the interesting patterns of fish farms and some of the city of Manila.

 

fishfarmsThe people love color. There is bright and gorgeous color everywhere in the man-made world, including on and in the famous modified jeeps they use as buses and taxis. Here is one example, although it doesn’t come close to maximum for size or splendor. It’s a motorcycle taxi.

Donna1

Even our bus had amazing seats. The windows had deep purple drapes.

busSeats

We didn’t travel near the area that was hit by the recent hurricane, but many homes I saw in the countryside looked like they’d come down with only a mild breeze. Bamboo is a popular building material. It’s used in a million ways, some of which are very ingenious. The rice fields and heavily forested hills are beautiful.

 

ricefieldBelow is a photo of sunrise over Apulit island.

Sunrise

In the city of Legazpi we walked through a very strange mall which had a kiddie carnival inside. The rides were extremely strange; one of the group remarked they seemed something straight from a Stephen King novel. If I can get a photo from someone of this, I’ll add it later for your enjoyment, or your nightmare, whichever it may be.

My final “touristy” comment is about diet. If you’re a vegan, you will have a very, very, very, very hard time. Enough said.

Luckily, a woman in our group lent me a small underwater camera. I had not intended to take any underwater photos (my Nikon isn’t an underwater camera), but I jumped at the chance to try this. I really had a blast, even though I suspected most of the photos were going to end up being shots of my left fin. The viewscreen looked totally black to me under the water, so I just aimed in the general direction and pushed the twanger. Some of the results are below, with a bit of comment. And yes, those are the real colors!

 

PTDC0301The gray and yellow fish on the left is a variety of anchor tusk fish. The small blue object on the coral at bottom is a worm, called a Christmas tree worm. They come in several different colors.

PTDC0201Obviously, above is a jellyfish. A very large one. I didn’t go as close as the brave person you see in the photo. There were quite a few small jellies in the ocean almost every day and “no see-ums” would sting any exposed skin. Fortunately, the only exposed skin I had was around my face mask. I wear a wetsuit, gloves and a hood.

 

PTDC0313More color, special for those who love blue.

 

PTDC0348A mated pair of copperband butterfly fish and a cleaner wrasse.

 

PTDC0571A longfin emperor snapper and a bunch of blue damsel fish. Those little guys stick together, but not because they’re friendly. If you put them in an aquarium they will attack much larger fish.

PTDC0177The golden feathery creatures are starfish, known as feather stars. Unlike other types of starfish, these attach to the substrate and hang out. Below is a closeup of one.

PTDC0297You have probably soaked up enough at this point, so I’ll stop. Hope you enjoyed the little summary of my adventure. Please leave comments. Before I stop, I’d like to thank the marine biologist, tour leader Lee Goldman and Britta Justesen from WWF who lent me the camera. Now please visit my website: www.mickeyhoffman.com  where you can check out my two mystery novels and view my etchings. Yes, really, you can come see my etchings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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~ by mickeyhoffman on March 28, 2014.

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