Bohol Sea Resort 2008/2009

It has been some time since you have read from us. This is because we have been back at work in the Philippines since the beginning of October. Not that it’s not exciting here – but in the end it is work.

Nevertheless, after 4 months of travelling, we are glad to have a “fixed” home again. In the meantime, the Bohol Sea Resort has become a bit of a home away from home. We feel comfortable here. The first eight months as a divemasterat the BSR were already great. Now, thanks to the diving instructor certification we have done in Negros in the meantime, we are even allowed to train. This is even a bit more fun than just guiding. Even though the number of diving courses at the resort is manageable, it is a super experience. But the job as a guide is also great – what could be better than living your hobby every day and making BSR guests happy at the same time?

Diving around Panglao is simply magnificent: macro experiences without end, coral gardens, steep walls covered like in a picture book,gigantic schools of fish and countless turtles around the diving paradise Balicasag. It’s a good place to dive without problems every day. But also the other places – which can all be reached within a few minutes – have a lot to offer.

Also otherwise we live a very privileged life here: good food, a nice room, many new colleagues and the inclusion in the life of the Filipinos are all things that make this time unforgettable for us. Thanks to the fact that the island of Bohol offers a lot of diversity and Alona Beach with all its restaurants and bars is just around the corner, we never get bored. So we will surely manage the second season and the next months well and are looking forward to many beautiful dives, nice guests and an unforgettable time.

Happy New Year

Another year has passed – time races also abroad. We are grateful for all the wonderful moments and adventures we have experienced in the past 12 months. We wish you all only the best for the New Year and that your dreams for 2010 come true! We got stuck into our bar on New Year’s Eve and played poker with a few guests until 5am; with a short interruption for the midnight fireworks. The next day we toasted and celebrated with a few Filipinos.

In general, the Christmas season in the Philippines was very special this year. Filipinos are crazy about Christmas – everything is decorated weeks in advance. For us, it is difficult to get into the Christmas spirit with the extreme heat and no snow. Nevertheless – the dance and play cultures with which Filipinos associate Christmas, we have of course joined in.

Boat 2010 and a short trip to Switzerland

On 19 January 2010 the time had finally come – we were allowed to fly to Germany for the BSR to the largest diving trade fair in the world – “the Boat” For us, it was a double experience: firstly, representing “our” resort in the midst of the diving community, and secondly, taking a detour home. We were delighted to fly home again after 16 months. We overcame the shock of the cold at Zurich airport and packed up in winter clothes and went straight to Düsseldorf the next day. We checked into our room, put our suitcases down and went straight to the exhibition centre. After all, we had to set up and decorate our stand. Compared to the fairs in Switzerland, the area is huge – 17 gigantic halls hold everything that has anything to do with water sports. Not to mention all the millions of yachts that are painstakingly embarked.

Henry, the owner of the BSR – who of course also flew with us – took over one stand and we took over the slightly larger one. Not to mention all the millions of yachts that are painstakingly embarked. So we were covered twice. We spent the next nine days, from ten in the morning until six in the evening, getting as many people as possible to fly to us at the BSR. It was also nice to see all the former guests of the two seasons who had visited us at the stand.

In the evenings, we went out for dinner with Henry and usually also to Düsseldorf’s old town – known as the longest beer bar in the world. It is teeming with breweries, and apart from beer you can’t get much else. When you order a mineral, the waiter looks at you rather slanty. But the atmosphere and ambience in the old town are definitely worth a visit.

Following the fair, we were allowed to have another week’s holiday at home– since we are already here. We enjoyed the time to catch up with family and friends and share our experiences. Of course, one week is very short to fit everything in. Nevertheless, it was very nice to meet some people this week. On the other hand, we were also happy that we were allowed to fly back to the Philippines and that our adventure is not over yet.

Lots of dives and many visitors later…

It is already mid-April again and the BSR season is drawing to a close. Since our detour in Switzerland, we have experienced quite a bit and, above all, received many visits from friends from home. On the one hand, Stefan and Cécile visited us for a week. Actually, we wanted to go diving intensively – we would even have been lucky that there were no guests and we could dive just the four of us. Unfortunately, it rained continuously for a week and was quite cold. We spent the afternoons drinking tea with rum and playing poker. We hope you enjoyed it anyway – we were definitely glad to see you!

A few weeks later Schwander Thomas arrived, and a week later his girlfriend Martina. They were luckier with the weather. We were busy diving. It was a great experience for us to be able to guide good friends. In the evenings we often went to Alona Beach and spent cosy evenings.

Then we had the honour of being visited by Sandro’s parents, who don’t usually travel that far. Even as a non-divers, they liked it well. We had a great time and were able to introduce them to Asian culture. It was nice to show them where we live and work.

When they left, it went on in quick succession: Sandro’s parents were packed onto the plane and at the same time new friends with Bruno, Monika and Höfi were brought along from Cebu. They too had come to dive. Until Bruno became ill and only “Höfi” could dive. Monika could not be persuaded to try diving – but was busy snorkelling. Unfortunately, Linda then had to make anunwanted trip to Manila with Monika because her passport was stolen. So we went to the embassy in Manila and had a provisional passport issued. We made the best of it and had a few beers and white wine in the evening in Citylife Manila before flying back the next day. We were very happy about all the visitors! It’s nice to see a piece of home and familiar faces. So many thanks to all who came all the way to join us.

As the season is finally coming to an end, so is our adventure. After much toing and froing, we have decided to start our trip to Australia. It should be at least six months. Via Singapore we fly to Darwin, where we want to buy a nice car to conquer the big red continent. So the travel bug hasn’t left us yet. Therefore: Bye Bye Philippines, bye bye Friends. We will miss you!


Full of anticipation, we returned from Bangkok to the Philippines – ready for the island, we were looking forward to our second home. First of all, off to Bohol, where we had deposited all our diving luggage. We also left quite a lot of other stuff behind in Bohol. So first we had to sort out everything we no longer needed and send it back to Switzerland. About 30 kg of luggage had accumulated – we had imagined it would be easier to send the whole thing to Switzerland. It was simple, but expensive. DHL charged 500 USD for the shipment, which was well above our budget. All the happier we where when two Swiss and one German Panglao expats sacrificed themselves to take the 30 kg back to Switzerland. As they were going on holiday to Switzerland, they had empty suitcases, which was our good fortune. Many thanks again to Peter, Margrit and Franz. Besides all the organising, we also saw and visited many familiar faces again. It was especially nice to see the staff from Bohol Sea Resort again. When we had done everything, we set off to discover a few more of the over 7,000 islands.


Camiguin is located in the north of Mindanao, very easy to reach from Bohol. By public bus to Jagna, then by ferry to the volcanic island. Travelling in the Philippines is a far cry from luxury travel à la Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. No air-conditioned minivan, but public bus and jeepney. Travelling like the locals – despite the effort, this is a far greater adventure for us. Here you notice that the Philippines is still lagging far behind in terms of tourism. So instead of other Travellers, you share seats with roosters, goats and whatever else needs to be transported. They are also world champions at overloading – there are usually twice as many people in a bus as there is room for. But what’s wrong with putting two people per seat? And there is also a roof – there is still plenty of room.

Camiguin already made a great impression from the boat and we were looking forward to a few relaxed days. Already the boat trip was funny – some young people gathered around us and pestered us with questions. For example; Which Hollywood stars do you all know personally? Yes, Filipinos sometimes have a wrong image of our lives. At Jonny’s Dive Shop we did two dives: one at Old Volcano and the second at the small offshore sandbank White Island. Diving-wise not a highlight, although Old Volcano looked nice with the corals and black lava sand.

But what is really worthwhile is to rent a motorbike and explore the island. It has many Cold Springs, Hot Springs and waterfalls. Especially the Cold Springs were great because it was hot! That’s why we didn’t climb the volcano, it was just too hot for such efforts.

After a few days we wanted to go back to Bohol by slow boat. When we arrived at the pier, however, there was no boat in sight. We then found out that the ferry is broken at the moment and we have to go to the other side of the island to catch the speedboat. Well, all we can say is: Welcome to the Philippines…


Back in Jagna, Bohol, we took the overloaded bus to Ubay, from where there is a ferry to South Leyte. Unfortunately, this trip is not doable in one day and we had to stay overnight in the provincial village of Ubay. We had the impression that you had never seen foreigners there. Finally, we found a cosy restaurant where we could spend the evening. Arriving in Leyte, we travelled from Bato by two different jeepneys to Padre Burgos for diving.

South Leyte is known for beautiful corals and the whale sharks that migrate back and forth in the bay. Unfortunately we didn’t see a whale shark, apparently they were rather rare during the whole season. The dive sites are amazing; great drop-offs with beautiful corals. Unfortunately, there was little fish and the macro offer also left a lot to be desired. We did a total of seven dives with Sogod Bay Scuba Resort, which is owned by an Australian. A beautiful facility which also invites you to linger beside the dive. Apart from diving, there is not much going on in the provincial village of Padre Burgos. Leyte a successful stay – especially the drop-offs Napantao and Max Climax were great.


On Easter Sunday, we wanted to travel from Leyte to Cebu – actually, we should know by now that there should be no travelling on Easter. All Filippinos are on the road and the ferries are fully booked. We went from office to office for a ticket for the night ferry – not even for Easter Monday was it possible. The only option was to take a diversion via Bohol. Waiting at the pier, we prepared to arrive in the provincial village of Ubud sometime around two in the morning, guaranteed not to find a room. We were all the happier when someone suddenly wanted to sell us two tickets for the night ferry to Cebu. Even if completely overpriced – but a cabin of your own and a day saved. We continued from Cebu via public bus to Maya and by ferry to Malapascua.

Thanks to the low season, there were relatively few people, which made it very pleasant. The island is super beautiful; crystal clear water, snow-white beach, countless cosy bars on the beach – a lovely atmosphere.

We, however, are here to dive. The reason to go to Malapascua are especially the Thresher Sharks. One of the few places in the world where these are pretty much guaranteed. The downside is that the dive starts at five in the morning. On a 23m deep plateau you wait for the thresher sharks – otherwise there is not much to see. We were already very lucky at the first attempt. Three of them have turned up – beautiful sharks. In the afternoon we go to the same dive site, only then the manta rays are to be found. Here, too, we were very lucky – the first ones passed by right after the dive. For about forty minutes they made their rounds and got cleaned – in between, schools with several devil rays came by. The best thing was that we were alone – which is probably rare. The following day we went to Gato-Island– also very beautiful dive sites.

Afterwards we spent a few more days on the beach and enjoyed the beautiful island. Malapascua will remain a very pleasant memory for us!


In Cebu, we boarded a plane to Puerto Princessa, Palawan. Puerto, the capital of Palawan, was a very cosy town with many delicious restaurants and bars. But since we are not here to look at cities, we moved on after one day anyway. The public bus to Sabang was an experience as always.

In Sabang we visited the famous “Underground River”. A cave with a salt and fresh water mixed river through it. You can be chauffeured through the caves by boat for about 45 minutes. It was very impressive, but again, enough with caves for a while. From Sabang we continued via minivan to El Nido– yes, it was our first minivan in the Philippines. But the route is so long (7 hours by minivan) that we decided on this luxury. El Nido is a cosy beach in a dreamlike setting – the Bacuit Archipelago.

Hundreds of small islets, lagoonsandlimestone formationsoffer a beautiful sight. You can be chauffeured by boat through the lagoons and the beautiful beaches and take a refreshing bath every now and then. We stayed in El Nido for over a week and enjoyed the ambience and doing nothing in our cosy room and terrace.


We continued with the Bangka ferry to Coron for diving. At 2’000 pesos, it was the most expensive, but also the longest trip we made. Thanks to the storm, there have honestly been more pleasant rides – we were very happy when the weather slowly got better.

Coron is world renowned as a top wreck diving destination. The Japanese fleet, sunk by US troops during the Second World War, are now overgrown with coral and offer a paradise for divers. At a depth of between 12 – 40m, all are relatively accessible – and impressive at up to 160m long. But there can also be a disconcerting feeling, as the wrecks are quite narrow and sometimes little daylight gets in. But we found it exciting to dive through the ships and marvel at the gearboxes, aircraft cranes,torpedoes and cannons. We crossed the storerooms, prison rooms, kitchens, machine rooms – a special feeling. But the highlight was also the immense fish stocks and the coral growth on the wrecks. We were even allowed to marvel at a whale shark once again. At some point, however, our time was up in Coron (unfortunately), and we continued on to Manila.


To conclude our trip in the Philippines, we travelled to the north. First stop was San Juan, where we wanted to take surf lessons. On site, however, we quickly discovered that the waves were quite small. Nevertheless, we tried. With a surf instructor who kept pushing us into the small waves, it went okay. At least we stood on the board. Without kick-off, however, it was difficult for us in the small waves. After two days it slowly got a little better, but were plagued by sore muscles. Maybe we just needed more will to persevere – but unfortunately we didn’t have that.

So we continued to Banaue by night bus via Baguio. The destination was the world-famous rice terraces, which are considered the eighth wonder of the world and the largest Philippine construction. They were built over 2,000 years ago by the Ifugao natives. Looking at these terraces, one almost becomes a little awestruck by this work. The most famous terraces are in Batad, where they are built steeply into the mountains like an amphitheatre. With a guide, we walked up and down the terraces all day and could admire them from every angle. The cultural insights into the way of life here high in the north were also very nice to experience.

The next day, our muscles aching, we went to see the Banaue and the Hapo Terraces. This was also our last stop in the Philippines, we took the night bus back to Manila. From there, it is supposed to go on to Borneo.

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