Canyoneering and swimming with sharks

Previous part: The first moments in the Philippines

Adrenaline in the canyon

In Philippines there is also their maybe time so I didn’t have to wake up at six. We finally left around nine after solving on which motorbike and with who I’ll go to the canyon. I went there with Raymund’s brother who was my guide in the end. I received a helmet and a swimming vest which tourists have to wear. I understand that Filipinos usually can’t swim but they don’t have to force us to wear the vest. Right at the first jumping spot to the river there were two police officers watching those poor people conquering their fear and jump into the azure water between high rocky walls. It took me a while but then I jumped full of adrenaline and with shaky legs. And I forgot to close my eyes properly and hold my nose so I almost lost my contact lens and washed my brain. That’s why I was holding my nose as a girl later.

The journey through the canyon took about three hours and it was amazing. You swim for a while, than you walk and sometimes you jump. And I still couldn’t get used to jumping so it always took me a while. But I was asking voluntarily for jumps from high spots. Because I paid for fear and not for just for walking and swimming. The highest jump should be 17m high. The only pity was that my guide was in hurry at the end so we didn’t stay for long at the last and most famous Kawasan fall. The jumping at this fall is forbidden. It’s dangerous and some people have drowned there, but you can float to the fall on one of many bamboo rafts.

We caught a bike and headed back home where I got a lunch like in Georgia. Which means a lot so I didn’t know what to do with it. Until I realized it was for the whole family. Initially I was supposed to stay for one night but because I could join group of Filipinos going to swim with whale sharks next morning I stayed one more night. In the afternoon during a nap I repeated jumping in the canyon so I almost fell down of the bed and edited video on my phone which was a horror. When I was deciding what to do later, the beach was the right choice. Raymund’s daughter recommended me close beach which is not crowded unlike White beach in Moalboal and her grandpa drove me there by tricycle. The beach was nice, a few people, but not so good for swimming. I would probably arrived to the opposite island before finding some deep water. I was accompanied by two hens and I gave them names – Adela and Ema (girls who were supposed to fly with me to Philippines). On the way back, I didn’t want to take a ride so I walked because it wasn’t so far. It was getting dark and around the road, that led through the jungle with occasionally appearing houses, could be heard strange sounds. I heard that sound last evening and I thought it was some child’s toy with low battery. But now I could hear those toys from everywhere. At home I found out that it’s the sound of Tokay gecko. The walk back to home wasn’t so short as I thought, my flip flops scraped my legs and Philippine roads are not made for walking barefoot.

 Whale sharks

Trust, but verify, I thought at five o’clock in the morning on Sunday because we were supposed to leave to Oslob at least at half past five. So I verified it’s possible to set your watches according to their maybe time. We left at seven o’clock. I joined a group of Filipinos from Manila and we went to Oslob by the coastal road. There we registered ourselves, paid 1000 pesos fee which is not negotiable and got a training how to act in the water. It’s forbidden to use sunscreen and you have to keep distance from the sharks. So “my” Filipinos went to wash off the sunscreen and then we waited for our boat, got swimming vests and float away. The weekend isn’t exactly the best time for this activity since it’s crowded. But everybody will get to the sharks without problems. Non-swimmers were happily kicking around themselves and splashed water in their swimming vests. I think they tried to drown the swimmers. So you were trying to not drown and sharks were trying to get to you because nobody told them they can’t. These giants have a length of about 12m and your head would easily fit into their mouth which they use for sucking the food from the surface. And that’s why this place is full of controversy. On one hand, the sharks are not kept there by force, but because of the food they’re staying there for the whole year which is not natural for them and they are just a money machines. People often don’t follow the rules and use sunscreen or trying to get closer to sharks so they can cause them injuries. Good article why to not swim with sharks in Oslob is on Dive Bohol website. But the experience was great!

Voyage to Bohol

After swimming with sharks I needed to get to another island – to Bohol. One possibility was to go by boat from Argao to Loon or to the capital city of Bohol – Tagbilaran, but because there is only one connection per day I wasn’t able to catch I had to find different way. Barker offered me an option to go to Panglao island, which is next to Bohol, by boat for 1000 pesos which is expensive so I wanted to go through Dumaguete which is on Negros island. Eventually he offered me the ride to Panglao for 800 which was good due to time savings. The barker wasn’t good at his job that day because in Oslob we waited for one hour before we could start boarding – wading about 30 meters to the boat. While waiting I met Lucas from Argentina who’ve been also solo traveling. Wading to the boat was like walking through a minefield. Right at the shore I saw a sea urchin so it was only about luck. Foolishly I kept my backpack on my back and didn’t put it on my head so the bottom part, which is not waterproof, was wet. I also kept my wallet in my boardshort’s pocket so credit cards and SIM card enjoyed a bath. Luckily I put my phone to the top part of my bag. After another hour on the boat while waiting for new people, a group of unspecified Asians arrived. But for them wading to the boat was out of question so they had to be transported by smaller boats.

Panglao island was probably in different time zone because the original voyage time should be two hours, but it was three hours in the end. We had enough time to get to know each other with Lucas and manage our plans for the next days. Back to those contact lenses in the canyon… Lucas lost there his lenses and if I remember correctly someone from the Czech couple, we also met on the board, too. So for us blind people was the canyon inhospitable. Our boat was accompanied by dolphins for a while and than by flying fishes that can fly for really long time (good for fish, hens would envy). Before our arrival to Panglao island we were caught by heavy rain when it was impossible to hide even under the roof and my already dry backpack was wet again. Finally I was able to imagine how the contestants of Survivor feel during constant rain. Upon arrival the scene before departure repeated. We were wading, Asians were going by boats. Everything was so wet that I couldn’t use my touchscreen of my phone because I had nothing to dry my hands. After a while I finally succeeded and could contact my Couchsurfing host Jayson in Tagbilaran. Czechs and Lucas ran away to seek accommodation in Panglao and I went to the Bohol’s capital city. With bike driver who didn’t want to take me to jeepney terminal. He said it’s Sunday and it’s late so there are no more connections to the city. It was like 4PM. Of course I knew he was lying and just wants money from me for the ride to Bohol, so I told him I want to see no jeepneys by myself. And he even didn’t feel bad while asking the tourist price from me. Jeepney dropped me wet close to Jayson’s house where I was supposed to stay for three nights. We went for dinner to local BBQ place. You can choose there what you like from not cooled plastic boxes, pay and after a while it lands grilled on your table. Jayson works for one of Philippine bank and he’s responsible for ATMs. So if the ATM will eat your card and he is available, he will come and rescue it.

Why tarsiers commit suicides? How do the Chocolate hills look like and why they are called like that? How much the repair of scooter’s defect costs? And did I finally learn how to snorkel? Read it in Chocolate Hills, tarsiers and turtles.

Are you looking for accommodation in Philippines? Try Agoda or get credit for accommodation with Airbnb.

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