Sunday, January 27, 2008

Diving in Batangas

First a word about some of the seafood that I eat here......
As you can see by the photos below, the selection of fresh seafood is endless.... I love the Holiday Inn Buffet.... Mmmmmm, good..!!!!

The sashimi platter loaded down with maguro (tuna) and sake (lightly smoked salmon). Plus some maki as well....

Whole baby crabs deep fried.... Delicious..

Huge Oysters and very sweet (no Mom, not like the large Pacific Coast oysters that have a strong taste..!!)

Marinated Mussels - These are the largest and sweetest green mussles I have ever tasted.

Alrighty then, to the mini-adventure that I had on Sunday... Going diving with my friend Neil Sese...... Neil is Adam's age and I thought that it was a pretty good deal when he offered to take time out of his week to show an old man around to some of the local (well sort of local) dive sites...... If you read my Baguio post, you have already been introduced to Neil, he is Kalia's father.....

So he picked me up at 6am for the 3-1/2hr drive south to Anilao/Mabini in the Province of Batangas (13° 41.535N 120° 53.311E). Anilao, is regarded as the birthplace of diving in the Philippines. There is something for everyone here - from snorkeling, to sites for both novices and the experienced diver. It is also considered one of the world's best sites for macro-photography. All of the critter pictures on this blog have been "found" on the internet and used here as I did not have an underwater camera.

All of the diving water/boat traffic is accomplished by using an Anilao banca or outrigger diveboat.

One of the local bancas.

Another banca - just waitin' for divers.....

Neil had arranged a day at a local dive resort called Balai. It sits directly on the Maricaban Strait. It is because this is a strait as opposed to a bay, that there is such diverse wildlife and coral. The constant current provides nutrients for all.....

The Dive Spot

Looking across the Strait

More Looking across the Strait

The weather was misty in the morning, but very calm water.

A typical bottom... These coral bommeys were separated by a sandy/rocky bottom.

Balai is perched atop a rocky slope in San Teodoro Mabini, Batangas. Architecturally designed with vast open spaces, it offers sweeping views of the sea. Scattered around are groves of trees, left to grow in their natural habitat, frame the view from each of the decks of the nipa and bamboo cottages.

The shore view of the lodge.

One of the gazebos.

Shot of the dive patio

Another shot of the dive patio, loaded with gear.

The overnite accomodations (maybe for the next visit) There is absolutely nothing there to do but dive. No nite life, no nuthin'.... But the diving is awesome....

Looking north up the beach.

I had selected an individual dive with our divemaster - Edgar. We went down as deep as 90feet. The water was not bad, tho' everyone except for me had on wetsuits. I saw plenty of critters and coral... There were thousands of fish, all the colors in the rainbow... The parrot fish were huge, a school of baracuda, anglefish and clown fish galore.... All in all, one of my most interesting dives.... As most of the wildlife (other than the fish) were very small, you needed to pay attention to whatever you were looking at........ I was fine in a rash guard and swimming trunks. Although my arms did get stung pretty badly on the way back in after the diver by hundreds of tiny jellies just loaded with "itch".....

Marley and Maddox - look for the pygmy seahorse.... Look very carefully.... Do you see it...?? It is right in the center of the picture.

Maybe a larger picture of the pygmy seahorses may help.....

Mantis shrimp... These were about the coolest looking things I saw... Beautiful colors, a funny looking half lobster - half shrimp body....

Crown of Thorns Starfish.... These are considered an invasive species and are killed (rocks piled on them so they can't move and starve to death) on sight. The divemaster built a cairn over one while we were diving.

Lots of clown fish.

The blue ribbon eel... Very cool....

Angel fish of all types....

One grand dive....

Me with Edgar - the divemaster.

Neil was going to take the intro dive that they offer to anyone who wants to "try SCUBA". He had only snorkeled and actually thought that was all he would be able to do... He was presently surprised when he found out he could actually "try it out".... He did this right after Edgar and I finished my dive. He went down as deep as 20ft and saw enough to make him want to come back..!!!

Neil getting "the intro speech"

Another happy diver....

A great day of diving and relaxing.... The sun finally came out and after we were served a delicious buffet lunch, we hung around for a few hours before heading back to Manila....

Loungin' on the deck...

Neil taking some pictures...

We stopped for dinner at a traditional Filipino restaurant. I tried Bulalo and Tawilis. Bulalo was explained to be beef head or bone marrow soup. It is almost like corned beef and cabbage.... It is served with cooked cabbage and is quite good. Tawilis (sardinella tawilis - sometimes obscurely referred to as the freshwater sardinella) is a freshwater sardine found exclusively in the Philippines. It is unique in that it is the only member of the family Clupeidae that is known to exist entirely in freshwater. Locally, they are known in Filipino as tawilis. They were eaten whole, dipped in hot pepper and calamansi juice.... You really had to chew them for a bit to break all the little bones or they had a tendancy to get stuck in your throat. Quite salty and a little fishy.....

Bulalo - good, very rich...

Tawilis - eaten much like smelt, but more like the larger smelt that should have been gutted but weren't...!!! They are fairly bony, so chew, chew, chew......

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

nice, I am not sure I would be happy 90 feet down but it looks beautiful.

marley and maddox said...

matchie says, 'happy new year to grandpa!'

marley says, 'i love you. i liked looking for the seahorse but there is not enough nemos.'