jeudi 2 juillet 2009

THE VISAYAS PART 2 - Live and let dive

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We'd been wondering for a few days what we should make of our last week in the Philippines. There were so many options: explore the almost untouched island of Palawan, hike all the way to northern Luzon to see nature's wonder rice terrasses, or re-live the beach and party lifestyle in Malapascua, the other Boracay.
We wanted something really special which would not involve too many hours in transports. Our friend Randy came up with the perfect plan: "why don't you guys take your PADI and become scuba divers? It's a unique experience and you will be going back home with something tangible, something that will stay with you for ever". And right he was! We said goodbye to Randy, took the ferry to the island of Bohol, and from there got a local transport to Panglao Island, home to Alona Beach, which is ground zero for divers.
After visiting most of the 17 scuba diving schools on Alona (luckily it's a small beach), Alex and I decided to sign up with PID, the only one with a French owner and French instructor. Sad but true, after many years living abroad we still favour our fellow countrymen over any other nationality: pure chauvinism, or are we just too lazy to take a test in English when we can take it in French?
We soon started our theorical and practical training with Yanick, who proved to be a first rate instructor. Four days later we were both certified divers, and decided to celebrate by taking another couple of dives and enjoying the easy life on the island for the rest of our stay.
We changed our return ticket to fly out from Cebu instead of Manila, thus avoiding a long trip up north. Palawan and Banaue: we'll have to come back to visit!

Nous voila donc plongeurs certifiés... Quel plaisir de passer notre dernière semaine aux Philippines sur Alona beach, petite plage calme qui tourne essentiellement autour du business de la plongée.
Depuis Panglao Island, l'on peut facilement rejoindre l'ile plus imposante de Bohol; nous décidons donc de louer un scooter et de partir explorer les principaux attraits touristiques de l'ile, à savoir son architecture espagnole, ses Chocolate Hills et enfin ses tarsiers, petits mammifères qui auraient pu servir de doublure a Yoda dans Star Wars!
Le reste de notre séjour est entièrement consacré à l'art de vivre local, ou comment parvenir en une semaine à croire, et à faire croire, que l'on vit ici depuis 10 ans.
Ainsi, nous fréquentons avec la même aisance le restaurant italien pour expats, que les grills philippins où l'on mange ses pieds de poulet copieusement arrosés de bière pour une somme dérisoire. Nous devenons vite réguliers d'un petit bar de quartier, le "One for Da road", et sommes sincèrement indignés lorsqu'un coup monté obligera le patron et sa femme à s'exiler ailleurs. Les jours s'écoulent ainsi plus ou moins paisiblement à l'ombre des palmiers et c'est avec regret que nous quittons Panglao, dernière ile du noodletour...

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