Philippines Day 5: Busuanga

Arriving in Manila we went through security and entered the airport. Our first order of business was to get tickets to Coron on Basuanga Island. We stopped in at the Cebu Pacific office and found a ticketing agent to take care of us. We had this absolutely fabulous Filipino guy with tons of flare who took care of our ticketing and we were on our way. The flight wasn’t for a number of hours so we went to the restroom and then to find food.

On the eatery deck we ate an American breakfast of pancakes, bacon and eggs at Roasters, wasting time and getting in contact with loved ones back home. I told my parents a sort of light version of what happened. Jenn and I nervously laughed about the previous day trying to sort out everything and what each other was thinking along the way. It was nice to have it behind us.

We also found an airport spa that offered showers and naps for 250p each or about $6. Having just had a very stressful last 12 hours and little sleep or a chance for a shower we were feeling in absolute need for this. Refreshed we squeezed in an hour and a half nap before checking in.

We passed the time at our gate at a Cinnabon using the internet and avoiding the crowds. On our way to board we ran into a Filipino model apparently. He walked passed and a bunch of girls jumped up and screamed “hiroki” or something (we don’t know how it’s spelled) and chased after him with cameras.

The plane ride was pretty uneventful other than it being delayed, but as we landed in Basuanga (pronounced like Buswun-GA) we were treated to some stellar views. The island is gorgeous and mostly undisturbed. Our bus ride from the airport took us through cattle ranches with horses and we were upbeat about the idea of horseback riding.

Coron town is interesting to me, it feels Filipino but not as intimidatingly inaccessible. There are travelers everywhere but clear not high end big spenders. The streets are busy and tiny, but cleaner. It has a tourist destination vibe, but feels lived in and not put on. I don’t know how else to describe it.

We got ourselves dropped off at the Krystal Lodge where we had made arrangements. It’s down a small alleyway leading to the water, built over the mangroves. Everything seems cobbled together and rustic, but not in the nice attentive way that Native Village was done. We saw our room and I thought Jenn seemed unhappy with the choice. Lonely Planet had marked this as a Top Pick, but we couldn’t tell why. You could see through the floor to the stinky mangrove water below, and all we had was a fan with stifling heat. Jenn though said it was fine. I wasn’t sure if she was just tired, or didn’t like it. Once we paid for the room I pressed her further not believing she was that fine with the place and wasn’t just putting up with it. The truth finally came out that she wanted AC, and I felt the same. I wasn’t particularly happy and was partly looking for justification for changing to a different place. We decided to check out Sea Dive which was down the road and had AC.

Sea Dive is also out on a pier but much nicer with a pretty happening restaurant. We asked at the front desk about a room but was told they were full. They might have an opening tomorrow but they had to check to make sure the guest wasn’t staying longer. We were sad we couldn’t get a room but she told us there was another different room that might also open for tonight but the guy in it was trying to get a ticket out and wasn’t sure he would manage. We elected to put our name down, have a much needed lunch, and see what our luck would bring us.

The food was good, and we enjoyed some nice cold, clearly purified water and looked out over the bay that had once been a major trading post and home to the Japanese Navy during the occupation. A stiff breeze was blowing keeping us cool. Lunch done I checked in with the front desk and asked about the horses. She told me they weren’t doing the horseback riding anymore but I could check with Dalores up the road who would know for sure. She did have good news, the room was empty for. AC here we come.

Checking our email and messages we found out that Scorch, one of our horses had hurt himself while we were gone, somehow getting a puncture wound in his nose that turned to an abscess. Somehow Jenn’s mother and Lisa had been gotten ahold of and things were getting taken care of. He’d seen a vet and was getting antibiotics. He seems to cutting himself often in the stables and we’re kind of at a loss at what he’s doing to injure himself, but I’m starting to get worried. We need to be diligent at figuring it out. I’m looking forward to a day when we can keep the horses at our own place where we can keep an eye on them.

We then had a few tasks, to go give back the key from our first room, find out about the horses, and arrange our next day.

It took us a couple of trips to find someone at the Krystal Lodge to take the key but we eventually did. It seemed like a waste, but the room was cheap and we really wouldn’t have been happy there. I just wish we had made a decision sooner. I think I’m getting better and telling if Jenn is unhappy or just exhausted and in the future I’ll make sure I can get her alone to make sure I know what she’s thinking. I also could have been more assertive with my own opinion on the room.

On our way back we stopped at Delores information desk to find out that the horses had been moved to the far side of the island, and getting there in the morning would mean hiring a private car (no thank you!) or renting motorbikes and riding out there (absolutely no!). So horses were off the agenda. Our plans were now to hopefully do some diving tomorrow and then island hop to go snorkeling the following day.

Stopping at the scuba shop associated with Sea Dive, a 5 star Padi outfit with its own decompression chamber, we were told they could accommodate us perfectly doing a shallow wreck dive of a Japanese Gun Boat, and a reef dive with Jenn doing it as a DSD student and me just tagging along as a certified diver. The boat would leave 8am the next morning.

Everything sorted we headed to our room around 3pm to take a nap. I had intended to wake up at 4pm to go walk the town or something, but suddenly it was 6pm and dark out. Jenn was still sound asleep and I nudged her awake. We couldn’t sleep so early or we might not be able to sleep at night. We had been on local time and I didn’t want us getting knocked off halfway through our trip. She begrudgingly got up and we headed down for dinner.

The special of the day was a 3 course meal with Lobster in a garlic butter sauce as the main course all for 395p, just under $10. I couldn’t pass this up even if it wasn’t going to be much lobster. I don’t get to eat Lobster often and it was probably fresh and definitely cheap. When the food arrived I was surprised to find my plate had 2 small lobsters on it, more than I expected! Delicious!

After dinner I tried to catch up on my journal some before we headed back to bed.

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