Liquid Dumaguete v 2.0: My Advanced Open Water Diver Course
Having completed my Open Water Diver (OWD) Course at Liquid Dumaguete in Dauin just last October, I was more than eager to come back this month to take my Advanced Open Water Diver Course, revisit my diving “home base”, and most importantly, be part of Liquid Dumaguete’s Sunday Funday, a great initiative that the team began last December and will continue to do every first Sunday of the month.
Getting to Dauin
I’d been traveling through Iloilo and Bacolod the days before, and preferring land vs. air travel, I took a 6-hour bus ride from Bacolod to Dumaguete (I’d been on a 31-hour road trip before, so 6 hours is not a big deal), but given that I had only left Bacolod a little past 4pm, on account of my visit to Rapha Valley, this meant that I’d arrive at roughly 10:30. Upon my arrival at Dumaguete, it turned out that I’d have to wait for the 11:30 bus leaving Dumaguete for Dauin (since I arrived at a less than ideal time — it’s usually a worry-free 20-minute trip from Dumaguete to Dauin).
I cram myself into the bus departing for Dauin at 11:30pm, and get dropped off at the Petron station near Liquid, take a flashlight-guided 10-minute walk to the resort, and at around 12:00 midnight, feel grateful for arriving unscathed.
Again, by no means do I advise solo female travelers to do what I did at the time that I did it. Traveling solo at night isn’t exactly the smartest thing to do. But anyway.
Touchdown: Liquid Dumaguete
Diving in Puerto Galera with Dive Instructor John Mateos Ong
Last Jan. 12-13, I managed to pull out just enough from what I have left in my savings (while ensuring I’d still have enough for my upcoming Iloilo-Bacolod-Dumaguete trip - I’m a super shoestring traveler, mind you) to join dive instructor John Mateos Ong’s students for a weekend of diving at Puerto Galera.
With Louie, Dive Instructor John, yours truly, and my age old friend Jane on the boat en route to Puerto Galera (photo c/o Michelle May Ong)
We arrived around 11, checked into El Galleon, had our lunch and looked forward to our dives at the renowned reefs of Puerto Galera.
After squirming into our wetsuits, prepping our weight belts, masks, booties, fins, BCDs (Buoyancy Control Device), regulators and tanks (with the help of the Asia Divers staff) we’d be off to our first two dives of the trip.
“Up” and About: An Age-defying Love & Adventure Story :)
On the long bus ride from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang, I also couldn’t help but notice the couple seated in front of me through the gap between their seats. I’m a sucker for old couples, so I was really curious about their story.
When we got off the bus and boarded a tuk-tuk to the centre of Luang Prabang, I was fortunate enough to be in the same tuk-tuk as they were in. My Luang Prabang travel-mates, Yasuko, Mako, Jenney and I then learned that they’ve been traveling for 10 years now, with their sailboat. :) SOBRANG SWEET.
I knew at that moment I had to take their picture and get their full names and email address. I knew I’d have to write about them.
Impromptu Wet Pak Ou Cave “Adventure”
August 7, 2012 - Luang Prabang, Laos
The rain wasn’t very cooperative at all in the first few days of my stay here in Luang Prabang, though it was significantly better than the weather situation in Manila at the time.
Nonetheless, Yasuko, and Jenney and Mako (who we met on the bus from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang) and I braved the rain and went out to explore what we could in the rain.
Baan Chang Elephant Park Part 2: How To Train An Elephant (Or Try At Least)
After an awesome first day at Baan Chang, it was time for the “main event”!
Time to train, trek and bathe with the elephaaaaants!! Gaaahh!
Now, I was wary about joining just any mahout training course because the last thing I wanted to do was help fund the inhumane treatment of elephants (similar to Mali’s case).
So, I tried to research as much as I could online, and I also wanted to talk to the Baan Chang tour coordinator in person to express my concern for the elephants’ well-being, and well, my power as a blogger (albeit not a super popular one, but still) to expose malicious acts to my readers. But you’ll never really know what they will be like until you get there.
Baan Chang Elephant Park Part 1: Waterfalls, Rapids, Rafts & Lanterns
At $100 for only 2 days, this was the single most expensive thing I paid for in my trip so far, and I couldn’t be happier about the decision to push through with it.
I initially just wanted to take mahout training (elephant whispering), but when I saw Baan Chang’s packages, I figured I’d take 1 “adventure” day as well. Let me take you step by step through Day 1. :)
My “Epic Adventure”: Turtle Travel
Everyone’s been wishing me well on this “epic adventure” I’m embarking on, and I’m sure it will be, but we all have subjective definitions of what an “epic adventure” is, but believe it or not, prior to my arrival here at Siem Reap, I only really had in my head that I would spend my first day here watching Season 4 of Breaking Bad. And followers of the series will know just what an epic adventure THAT is. Haha.
I actually wound up doing a DIY Nomad Manager Cambodian Arts & Crafts Walking Tour though, but that’s not my point here.
This is just me wanting to manage the expectations of people following this blog and people saying I should do this or that. I plan to discover things about Cambodia (and Thailand, Myanmar/Laos, and Sri Lanka later in this trip), meet new people, but all at my own pace (which is akin to turtle-paced travel), and not in some frenzy as if my life depended on stepping foot on each and every tourist attraction.
Day 3: Bukidnon (Dahilayan Forest Park + Dahilayan Adventure Park + Pineappling)
Our CDO trip was jampacked with adventure (see day 1 and day 2 here), and it’s kind of hard to pick which activity/adventure I loved best because they were all fun in their own right. But the place I loved the most in our CDO-Bukidnon-Camiguin-Iligan trip was undoubtedly Bukidnon.
And this was the first thing I did: