Yesterday we flew to Manila from the small Caticlan airport just the other side of the narrow channel separating Boracay from the mainland. A week in Boracay was enough to recover and if we’d spent much longer we probably would have started getting bored. The check-in at Caticlan was quite amusing as their computer systems were down and they were very disorganised at checking people in manually (“airphil express” was the airline). When it got to our turn, it took 30 mins to check just the two of us in.

We kept our heads down in Manila, we stayed in a new budget hotel called “tune” and just went out to the shopping mall for dinner. Then today we flew to Legaspi, which is the nearest airport to Donsol. The public transport to Donsol was crammed (16 people in a minivan), but it only cost $2 per person for the 1 hour drive.

We’re here for the whale sharks and a spot of diving – and there isn’t much else to do here, despite the locals’ efforts to make fireflies and anything else they can think of major tourist attraction. It’s a small town with only one restaurant/hotel in the main town and a few resorts outside of town. But it’s nice to be in a place where people are friendly and say hi to you in a nice way and not just because they want your money!

We booked a “whaleshark interaction” for tomorrow – which means snorkelling with a whaleshark if we can find one. Can’t wait!

Then perhaps we will do a day’s diving – manta bowl sounds interesting, but you’re not allowed to go after the whalesharks with scuba gear on here.

We’re back on the backpackers budget after our week of splurge on Boracay, but 1000 pesos ($23) here buys us a nice little fan bungalow with a proper bathroom/hot shower – clean and relatively bug-free – not quite as great value as Thailand or Cambodia but pretty good.

The estuary at Donsol with the Mayon Volcano (near Legaspi) in the background


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