Quick Notes: Tubbataha Dive Experience

Related to my previous post, I am posting a brief summary of my experience.  I made notes on all our dives with side comments in my phone and now inputting it here for safekeeping.

1st day

  • 2 dives on Jessie Beazley Reef – 1st multiple shark experience, really awesome to see them in their natural habitat
  • 2 dives on Shark Airport – 1st dive saw multiple sharks again (with some resting on the reef); 2nd dive was a night dive wherein we saw multiple large colourful  lobsters

2nd day

  • 1 dive on Shark Airport – failed hammerhead search
  • 1 dive on Seafan Alley – beautiful corals and sea of fishes; as if trapped in an aquarium
  • 1 dive on Black Rock – Manta (saw it first)!; strong current though and almost ran out of air; I have to thank Richard (our dive master) for keeping me calm and collected on this one
  • 1 dive on T Wreck – chill dive; beautiful corals with a random small turtle

3rd day

  • 1 dive on Delsan Wreck – saw a Whale Shark for the first time… it was more than 40 meters deep though so I did not get that close; I wished the photographers did not swarm it as much, it may have swam higher
  • 1 dive on Triggerfish City – only saw one triggerfish (so I was wondering about the name); mountain of corals and loads of turtles (one turtle though looked like it was either sick or sleeping); Bonus:  upside down shark near the boat right after we surfaced — thought it was trapped but it was not.  My co-divers said it must have been a wild night
  • 1 dive on South West Wall – sharks were swimming far away but still beautiful corals; corals were not as beautiful as the other sites but all alive and well; nice to see
  • 1 dive on a site near Amos Rock – felt like we were swimming in a coral maze; few shadows of sharks; Bonus:  swam with dolphins for a few seconds/minutes prior to the official dive starting point
  • Side trip:  Visited the ranger station after the last dive; amazing people and may they continue to protect the Tubbataha Reefs

4th day

  • 1 dive on Amos Rock – not so good visibility (by Tubbataha standards), which may be due to the rain during the night; school of shark and barracudas; beautiful corals with small fish (common in Tubbataha — wonderful)
  • 1 dive on Malayan Wreck – small wreck but saw a blue spotted ray; school of jacks
  • 1 dive on Wall Street – chill dive; Tubbataha standard of beautiful wall and corals; Sea fan pictorial with Alice at 90ft

All in all, Tubbataha was the best dive site I have been to so far – good visibility, wonderful corals and marine life.  For first timers, be prepared for mostly deep and drift dives.  Generally, the drift is not that strong, though this depends on weather and sea conditions.  Visibility is great.  Though from what one of my co-divers said, there are times when it was even better.

 

Quick Notes: Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Palawan

I visited Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park from May 29 to June 3 via M/Y Sakura liveaboard (my first one).  I flew to Palawan morning of the 29th then in the afternoon embarked on a 10 to 14 hours boat ride to Tubbataha.

As stated in the handout I received during the orientation, “The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is the only purely marine World Heritage Site in Southeast Asia.  The Park contains roughly 10,000 hectares of coral reefs and lies at the heart of the Coral Triangle, the global center for marine biodiversity. 

The Park is a major source of coral and fish larvae, enriching fisheries in surrounding areas.  Its islets are one of the last intact seabird habitats in the Philippines.

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It has seventeen (17) dive sites tagged in the map.  Eight (8) in the North Atoll, seven (7) in the South Atoll and two (2) in the Jessie Beazley reef.

On average, we did four (4) dives per day except for the last day wherein we only did three (3).  I personally decided not to skip any of the fifteen (15) dives to maximize the experience.  We were blessed with generally fair weather with scattered rain especially during the evening.

It was like a dream.  Though some of my co-divers said it was not the best visibility, every dive was a great dive.  The corals are pristine with the reef wall full of large sea fans.

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Marine life is diverse.  And most of all, lots of colors abound.  It was everything I envisioned it to be.  So beautiful.

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We were also blessed with sightings of sharks (loads of different varieties), whale shark, turtles and manta.

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imageYes, there is a whale shark there somewhere. Taken at 100ft deep.

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To keep it short and simple, it was the best site I have been to. The ocean is alive and wonderful.

I did take some photos but mostly I just spent most of my time admiring and absorbing everything my eyes could land on. It is not everyday I get to see majestic beauty.  It also helped that I knew I was with a group of diver photographers so I know they will have loads of photos.

All I can say is that we have been so blessed.  I hope we all strive to preserve it.  God is wonderful; what a beautiful world.  Hopefully I can return some time in the future.

To learn more about Tubbataha, you can visit http://www.tubbatahareef.org.

Quick Notes: Seoul, South Korea

I visited Seoul last 07 to 12 April 2016 primarily for the cherry blossoms and it did not disappoint.

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Luckily, we were still able to catch the last few days of the cherry blossoms festival in Jinhae…

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… with trees scattered in Seoul also still in full bloom.

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As a bonus, we were also just in time for the Tulip festival in Everland.

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It was a successful trip overall and here are my additional notes and thoughts:

Favorite place among those visited: Nami Island

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Favorite food I tasted: Street foods, especially the fresh strawberries with chocolate (runner-up: banana chocolate crepe with cereals)

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Favorite experience: T-Express ride in Everland

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Pleasant surprise:
– Streetfoods in Myeongdong
– Yeouido park

Other notes:
– Efficient transportation system
– They love to walk (trip involved lots of walking)
– Loads of beauty products

I think we still missed a lot of stops so might visit Seoul again. After all, Nami deserves a return trip.

First Time: Painting (without numbers)

Last Saturday (March 5), I was at Sip and Gogh Kapitolyo to try out painting.  I do not know much about painting but curious enough to experience it.

Since it was an open session, we (me, my mom and sisters) were asked to select a painting that we would try to replicate.  I thought it would be a painting by numbers type of lesson but I guessed wrong.  The staff would really teach you how to mix colors and paint (my mind went blank and heart started beating fast).

But, I have to say the dedicated staff of Sip and Gogh to our group was very encouraging.  By the end of our two-hour session, I did have something presentable.

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My version of a Night filled with Fireflies

I chose this painting because I remembered two things:

(a) my fireflies watching experience in Loboc River, Bohol – a magical experience that I was not able to capture on camera; and,

(b) Fireflies by Owl City – one of my favorite songs of all time.

My brain went to overdrive upon seeing it and started day dreaming for a few seconds with the following thought bubble:

I know fireflies are not fairies or pixies that come from far faraway lands.  There is nothing magic about how they produce light given that is more on biology.

But, from time to time, I allow myself to experience a bit of magic through imagination.  A night filled with fireflies is definitely my kind of whimsy..  I could just close my eyes and let my imagination do the rest (cue Fireflies by Owl City).

So there… I am happy with the experience and my output.  Thank you Sip and Gogh since I can now enjoy a night filled with fireflies at the comfort of my home.

I also realized I am not that bad at arts after all. Still a lot to learn but something not to be afraid of.  As one of the Van Gogh quotes posted in the wall says:

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.

My Hogwarts Experience

Hogwarts is a key part of my journey to adulthood.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows remains to be the only book where I had to wait for a bookstore to open.  So it is pure magic that in my 30 years of existence, I had the opportunity to visit Hogwarts twice through reading and traveling.

Traveling

Hogwarts

Universal Japan (January 2015) and Universal Orlando (October 2013)

Reading

I finished re-reading the complete series last 13 January 2016.  I learned a lot of new things about the characters’ journeys and found some hidden clues I missed before.

Hermione Granger remains my favorite character with Dobby and Severus Snape as my other choices.  My heart ached the most for Sirius Black. Happiest for Neville’s transformation.

The Prince’s Tale is my favorite chapter.  Hard choice between Prizoner of Azkaban and Order of the Phoenix as my favorite book in the series.

Hogwarts holds a special place in my heart.  Looking forward to another trip some time in the future.

Thank you JK Rowling.