Pictures will come later but thought I'd get a jump on posting while I have time. (I'm enjoying an ice cold San Miguel while I wait on my tilapia dinner.)
Flight arrived in Manila after midnight and I successfully made it to the guest house I had reserved. Unfortunately the said place was not quite a success...
How much of an un-success, you ask? Hands down the crappiest place I've ever stayed in! The receptionist leads me down the ghetto road and through a series of locked and barb wired gates and doors. My dorm room: About as big as my tiny Korean bathroom. I quickly found out it was already occupied by bunk mates. A young mother and her young son were there and had the room all set up with a clothes line and living essentials. It was obvious they had been living there for quite a while. Heartbraking. Half-slept with my sarong covering my face (the light stayed on all night with no way to turn it off.) I got out of there as quickly as I could the next morning; my clothes already smelling of must and mold.
Then I was off to the island of Caticlan. Luckily someone from my hotel met me at the airport and navigated through a series of tuk-tuks and a boat. I arrived at a paradise called White Beach. The name is quite fitting.
The weather was pretty crappy for two days as a big storm passed through. I met some friends Friday and enjoyed nice company and copious amounts of drinks.
The next day I was up early and surprisingly refreshed for my first day of diving! My instruction has been one on one and for that I'm very thankful. I breezed through my first few sets of skills and hit the boat to go under. Twelve meters deep I wasn't so graceful. I was no fish or good swimmer with fins. I was a little disappointed but my instructor assured me that I still did much better than most and would get the hang of it.
The next day (today) I went back out again, determined to be a master diver. Not so much... My second time down, while better than the first, proved quite difficult. It also included a few tears and some gagging (I have an extreme aversion to salt water in my mouth... I almost always vomit...).
Once I conquered my initial problem (couldn't get one ear to pop as I was going down) it was good. But at this point I was still following my instructors and his assistants were following me; like a little school.
Still determined, I went out again a few hours later. This time I finally felt successful and confident! I got much better at the things I had been doing wrong and was able to swim off on my own more. The couple diving with me from Hong Kong also boosted my confidence! She didn't make it off the surface and he required the constant attention of the instructor and both assistants. Maybe I can do this diving thing!
I spent the rest of the sunlight hours basking (burning) in the sun. I'm also developing wetsuit tan lines. Confession: getting into a wetsuit was my biggest fear about scuba diving. It proved to be a quite painless task after all...
I have one final dive to complete my certification. Then I'm official!