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Coron 2023: Part 2


A cabin overlooking a bright blue lagoon in the Philippines

21.3.23 

 

It’s actually two days after the first entry, and I didn’t get around to planning anything today, but even though it’s only 8:41am, I feel like I should be doing something. I’ll get dressed and think about what to do. 

I walked around Coron and had lunch inside three hours. I still have half a day free. Good opportunity to finish yesterday's entry. 


Every good holiday has you getting up early, which for me was 6:30. I had to be with Nicole in time to catch the tuk-tuk. Fortunately, that gave me enough time for the hostel breakfast. You order from a list and tick the one you want. The food options were pretty standard (omelette, fruit, pancakes) but the drink choices were: 



Coffee 
Tea 
Or me 😊 

I don’t know what ‘me’ means, but it was too early for whatever it was, probably. Eggs. Toast, and watermelon had to do. Because I am barely aware of anything that requires forethought, I only showed up with 3000 pesos and suncream. Nicole asked why I didn’t bring something to drink, or a towel. It was a fair point. I grabbed two bottles from the hotel lobby. 


Riding in a tuk-tuk on Coron’s roads was not the smoothest experience, compounded by a titchy backseat. They clearly weren’t designed for people my height, and the rattling of the steel frame hurt my back and head. Nicole just laughed each time it happened.  


We paused near the dock so Nicole could pick up her diving gear, and I did the same (after she suggested) and got a snorkel and flippers/ We waited for around half an hour on the tour boat for everyone else to arrive. 

Hawkers immediately entered the small boat, stepping freely on and off the prow. Small children came through offering suncream or water. Nicole went ahead again to pick up some sunglasses and came back with an extra pair for me along with a towel. It took a moment, and half of the passengers got off and were replaced by others, but finally we set off across the crystal clear water for our boat trip. Frustratingly, we had to wear lifejackets whilst on the boat and in the water (which I suppose is exactly when you should be wearing a lifejacket) but it was a small price to pay – along with the actual price – for what we saw and did. 



The entire trip lasted around seven hours. Almost all of it was spent on the boat or in the water. It took a moment to get used to wearing flippers again, and every time I was in the water my mask would leak no matter how much I tightened it. Consequently, much of my time in the water involved emptying seawater from then. The rest was hurrying to scan the submerged terrain before it became blurred by brine again. 


At all times it felt like I was swimming inside an aquarium. There were pufferfish (much larger than I thought they were), barracuda, parrotfish, and other fish I recognised but can’t remember the name of, sorry. All of the coral was bleached, but it made sense that they would be the only reefs tourists were allowed to go to en masse. Wouldn’t want hundreds of people and boats ruining that. My absolute favourite parts were when the ocean would open and swallow the floor. One moment you would be trying hard not to scrape against the coral, and a few seconds later you be floating off the edge of the abyss, staring down into deep, endless blue. At one point, I tried to dive down to explore a shipwreck about six metres from the surface, resting on the slope of an island. I saw a woman dive all the way down, about 15 metres, climb over the wreckage and gracefully return for air. I, on the other hand, was caught off-guard by how fast I went with flippers on, struggled to equalise, and resurfaced with a splutter. A terrible display. In all fairness, i haven’t snorkelled a lot, so I could use some practice! 

 

At another point, Nicole ushered me over to her. 


“Their eyes follow you,” she said of the pile of sea urchins in one corner. I floated over to possibly the most uninviting corner of anywhere in my life: at least 30 sea urchins, with a small school of fish sheltering in their spines refocused their single eyes at me and watched as I bobbed along. 



The scenery above water was breathtaking too. From our little boat we rounded corners of jagged rocks and a whole network of limestone cliffs appeared before us. At the edges, the rocks had been undermined thanks to erosion by the waves, so every side of the lagoon had a low, deep overhang. You cannot avoid the fact that these are purely tourist destinations. We were constantly bumping into swimmers and snorkellers if we weren’t careful. At one point I was literally stuck in traffic; at a limestone bottleneck that forced swimmers into two lines. Paradise is popular as it turns out. 


But it was so distracting that it began to annoy. There was plenty to marvel at, Nicole made sure of it. My life jacket and I acted as her pontoon, and she encouraged me to follow her line of sight as she pointed things out. 

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