Inexcusable, I know. After an almost two week hiatus from ToT I come back (hopefully) banging out post after post, since I’m recovering from a flu with some more clarity in my head literally from the flushing of congestion as well as the recapturing of some alone time. I haven’t been boring, I’ve just been lazy. I promise I’ll work on the procrastination bone.So a few weeks back I went on an impromptu vaca for one of the numerous September long weekends and did what I love to do: scuba!!!
Everyone who’s known me this past year can attest that I am gaga over scuba diving and all the technical gadgetry involving it. Save for the everpresent freckles and occasional jellyfish stings, scuba has literally changed my life, just like yoga. It gives me two things: one, the chance to explore yet another part of the world, this time not involving a plane, train or sneakers; the other, the opportunity to get to meet the delicious plethora of seafood that I absolutely adore seeing on my dining table. Hey, my stomach thinks first, I’m just being honest
So my long weekend destination of choice: Sogod Bay. Sogod wha?!? Yes, its not really on the diving map just yet, as more accessible places like Anilao and Puerto Galera and more famous finds like Tubbataha and Apo Reef, are more on the list of dive locations. But the dive crew is always on the lookout for the next best thing, so we were lucky when A got in touch with his dive guide from Palau who recently moved back to his motherland to start anew in the hidden gem that is Sogod Bay.
Sogod Bay is located three hours from the heart of Leyte. Leyte, as history taught us, is the infamous spot where General MacArthur came to walk on the ocean with his troops saying the magic words: I shall return. And return he did, to defend us from Japs who invaded Philippines during World War II. Who knew that the very ocean he got his boots wet on would later become a nice new spot for underwater trekking???
Supposedly the three hour van ride to the resort was mind numbing and gag-inducing… but I had no clue. Because our flight was at 4am, I was knocked out like a light till we were right there at the resort. I think I may have even drooled.
We stayed at Sogod Bay Scuba Resort, which I am pretty sure we decided on because their logo shows a very cute frog fish on the forefront.
The resort was very chill, no frills but definitely a relaxing joint wit a nice stretching beachfront where we got to enjoy beautiful sunsets from.
Ze resort is run by two English gentlemen who decided to set up shop in Padre Burgos (Sogod Bay), probably coz they found a hidden oasis unbeknownst to mere mortal divers. Ron and Phil are two dive chaps who accompanied us during our dives, never leaving any detail left unnoticed. Because of their English roots, their menu boasts of more local English fare, YUM!
Fresh Grilled Tangigue with thyme and garlicky rice
My Fishburger with coleslaw and pineapple ring
The Big Tasty Breakfast:
2 eggs, mounds of bacon, hash, beans and tomatoes with toast.
Me noshing on the Big Tasty
It did get to the point though, when all of us slowly got sick of eating the same breakfast, lunch and snack meals, that on our last night we had no choice but to head to the next door carinderia, Moose & Squirrel.
Don’t ask me why it’s called that. I think Moose is a type of English brew, as for the squirrel part, I doubt there are squirrels roaming around that part of Leyte. We did enjoy walking through the dirt road from our resort for some homecooked Filipino food. No offense to the bangers, Big Tasties, and fish n’ chips out there… when in a beachfront setting, nothing says AHHH that grilled food and some garlic rice.
Shrimp tempura, which was suprisingly large even in the province. The Calamari was perfectly fried. Veggie Curry – for my newly health motivated friend L. My ultimate favorite dish: Inihaw na Pusit! (Grilled squid)I really enjoyed that final meal, and the grilled squid, but not as much as seeing a squid underwater!
Ok fine.. this is a cuttlefish… bus squiddish nonetheless
Another come on for our trip was the sighting of Whale Sharks aka Butandings in the area. Whale Sharks are the largest mammals and a rare find in dive spots. They are ginormous yet are so gentle they only feed on plankton, the green muck found underwater or when the tides change. Apparently, they had all left a few weeks ago off to another part of the underwater world.
Unfortunately, the only Butandings we were able to see were the miniature versions brought by our Dive Master Keith. It was a hoot nonetheless including the hammerhead baby. It was soooo believable that one VERY experienced dive sage send me this email… which left the readers laughing out loud:
J, – I saw a pic of a tiny hammerhead. Was that dead or alive?
How deep? What is the terrain of the area? how deep does the reef go?
Do they see hammerheads in the area? Sorry for the many questions….
sounds like a good area for an expedition…. – AWhile trekking the waters of Sogod, it helped that the visibility was unbelievably clear!
Keith, our ex Palau resident Dive Guide
That would be A looking for more creatures
Me with perfect trim c/o my brand new Halcyon backplate
Keith showing J some underwater goodies
I forgot to mention, this trip is not just any other scuba trip. Not only to scuba’ (as that frenchman said in American Sweethearts to Ben Stiller and Debra Messing), but to celebrate my 100th dive somewhere special. Yes, after a year and a half of being “technically” certified (don’t ask), I specifically planned my 100th dive in the dark.
AKA: night dive!
The great thing about night dives, one of them NOT being the overwhelming absence of light unless shining a torch to a spot, is the undisclosed creatures that roam at night and disappear during the day. Since your visibility is only about 2 meters, night diving gives a change to focus on the macro moment and dig up some teeny tiny finds:
A teeny tiny crab I dont have a name for
Baby frog fish! So cute. look at the scale with the pointer
An odd three shelled conch/lobster/crab
During the day though, there were plenty more to discover, especially when being caught in a current (drift diving). Sogod Bay’s sites boasts of some very beautiful coral structures and cliff rocks that stand out because the water is pristine clear!
A cute turtle is always a nice find
Giant Clams…. mmm Vongole…
Frog Fishes hiding
But the best part was the Pygmy Hunts!!!!
Pygmy Seahorses are such a rare find, but during this dive there were so many that we got bored of them. As small as a bitten thumb nail (eww) and very very incognito, they mimic the color of the corals they inhibit, making them next to impossible to discover.
Topside… so cute!
Where’s Pygmy? (there’s four!)
Hammerhead attacking Pygmy Seahorse. har har
So fine, we didn’t get to see the mythical butandings, but we did get to see a whole lot more underwater fanfare that we haven’t seen before. And also, we ended the trip right with the perfect nightcap! Our ritualistic fellowship session underneath the stars with the dive guides.
My once-in-a-blue-moon soda ingestion
L & J giving the look to the Germanese
By Germanese, we mean our friend A, who has a very distinct and elusively snide but oh so loveable. Sometimes we wonder if we enjoy his company or if we just want to be shocked and awed by the things coming out of his mouth.The quotable quotes:
LLP: It’s like Boracay…. but not quite.
Moi: A website does wonders
Moi: Monsiour Fromage & Camembert (Mr. Cheez + Camembert snuck in from my fridge)
JP: Monsiour Fromage… come on ober…
But I think the matchpoint of the entire trip was Pedro, our filipino guide. He was the best and took care of us during our dives (complete with tea or coffee and cookies after every dive. Could I have some milk with my tea please??). He was our purveyor of ice and San Miguel Grandes for our drinking session. But mostly, whenever he would brief us of our next dives, he would speak in an English accent. I LOVE IT!
On our way back to the airport, we had to cross the brand new bridge, which is, IMHO, a stupid idea and a waste of taxpayers money, because what you didnt see, is that there’s a curved road on the right side (at the beginning of the bridge) that ALSO leads to the end. They just wanted to cross the mountains to save, oh, about a minute of drive time. Why don’t you just pave the damn road and save us all the millions of taxes. Oh but wait, it’s so steep that you can go Base jumping and Bungee jumping. There’s use for it after all.
So Anyway, after my 100th dive, I’m now at #103, and I’m so glad I got to spend in Sogod Bay,before the world discovers it and puts it on the map. There’s something so exciting and refreshing about uncovering new territory before others get a chance to that makes a traveler seek for more genuine opportunities to see the unknown.To my 200th dive!
For more info on Sogod Bay Scuba resort, click me
To get in touch with Keith Santillano, who is a kick-ass instructor/guide/ all around leyte companion, email him at email@example.com or call at +63 919698 9483
To meet Pedro and listen to his English accent, check out his facebook