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To Dive or not to Dive

Written on: Saturday November 8th, 2008

I decided to get out of Manila and head south, to the resort town of Sabang.  From my hotel, a three hour bus ride brought me to the town of Batangas, where I caught a crowded ferry for ninety minutes to Puerto Gallera.  After quick jeepney ride I finally made it to Sabang.  The town wasn't exactly what I expected.  The beach was small and not overly scenic.  Dive shops and hotels fought for beach front space with restaurants and dancer bars.  Pushy locals and arrogant tourists filled the maze of alleyways that served as streets.

After checking out four hotels, I settled on a moderately priced resort on the beach and unloaded my gear.  I was sick of traveling and this place might be a good spot to relax and recharge the batteries.   The plan was to chill for a couple days, choose a dive shop and then dive for a few days.  However, as is often the case while traveling, my plans changed.  I met a few other travelers and spent the nights out having drinks and playing pool.  The locals here were quite serious about their pool, so the competition was challenging and fun.  The nights were late and the routine the same every night.  But when the time arrived to begin diving, I came down with the flu and was essentially bed-ridden for three straight days.  By the time I started feeling better I was sick of Sabang and just wanted a change of scenery.

Based upon the recommendation of a Danish expat living in Sabang, I travelled to the town of Angeles, which is a two hour bus ride north of Manila.  He said it was a good place to hang out for a couple days.  Well, I suppose that could be true, if you're into dancer bars and prostitution.  I think this place is the original 'sin city'.  There are loads of Vegas style clubs, complete with all the neon you can handle.  But the clubs are all full of young girls dancing and sleezy old men buying them drinks.  It really kept in form with my original impression of Philippines as dangerous, dirty and sleezy.

But there was some normalcy to be found.  Walking through town I found some nicer places on the outskirts, including a small mall where I had to purchase a new camera since mine recently developed a crack in the viewing screen and a tempermental shutter.  And my favorite activity was stopping at the hawker stands to try the different meats that were grilled.  Two nights here was more than enough and now it was time to head back to Manila and figure out the next step.