Posts Tagged With: Diving

I Should Be So Lucky Lucky, In Zanzibar

In Zanzibar the locals use Dala Dalas to commute around the island. A Dala Dala is basically a converted truck with two benches running along both sides of the back of the vehicle. So good they named it twice, on a Dala Dala there’s always room for one more person, 35 people I counted at one point, now I know what those slaves must’ve felt like whilst being shipped to Zanzibar.

Too close for comfort in a Dala Dala

The tiny village of Pongwe on the East Coast of Zanzibar is the place I’ve been looking for to get away from the crowds and do nothing for a few days. Only eating octopus, sitting in the sun and writing this godforsaken blog, life can be so cruel sometimes. 

  

In a place as remote and off the map as this, it’s the last place you’d expect to see a toon fan. Well in Pongwe, Yonson assures me he is Zanzibar’s biggest “Newcastle Team” fan. He knows what he’s wearing and hasn’t mistaken the famous black and white stripes for a Juventus shirt, which is a good start, but the fact he thought I was Fabricio Collocini when I showed him a picture of me in the St James’ Park changing rooms is making me think he may have just liked the colours. 

  

Pongwe is primarily a fishing village but a lot of the coastal dwellers make their income from seaweed farming. The seaweed grows at a rate of 7% per day, increasing tenfold from its original weight in a fortnight. Most of it is sent abroad and used for its main extract, carrageenan, a natural gelling agent used for cosmetics, toothpaste and medicine. The farmers earn on average $60-100 per month, what can easily be blown on a night out in the town at home. 

  

Nungwi on the Northern tip of Zanzibar is admittedly a nicer beach. Go there at sunset to see some local guys practicing capoeira.

  

  

Nungwi is a lot more touristy than Pongwe and probably everywhere else on the island. The beach is lined with expensive hotels catering for package holiday makers and restaurants selling pretty much the same food as the next one. The most annoying thing is the amount of hassle you get from the hoards of local beach boys selling snorkelling trips, bus tickets, boat trips, crappy souvenirs and anything else you can think of to make some money. Then there’s the fake Masai selling fake sunglasses and fake Masai art, and not to forget the gigalos selling themselves to the Western women who want a bit of fun in the sun. The tourists I can deal with, but when you can’t walk down the beach in peace for a few minutes without being fist pumped and followed by a so called Rasta selling crap African ganja then there’s something seriously wrong, and quite how you can be the ‘brother from another mother’ of a guy you’ve just met I’ll never know. 

  

So the bottom line is, Nungwi isn’t my favourite place and needs sorting out fast as the hawkers are giving it a bad reputation. The only reason we came here though was to dive one of Zanzibar’s most famous site, Mnemba island. 

  

The tiny coral atoll is home to many deep drop off walls and small colourful reefs. It’s was nice for its large schools of fish and many moray eels. I was really amazed to see a school of rare ‘lucky lucky’ fish, who approached me from behind sporting Bob Marley hats trying to sell me ‘I love Zanzibar’ t-shirts, it seems even underwater you can’t escape the touts! 

  

  

  

Categories: Diving, Tanzania, Zanzibar | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Grandaddy Of Negros

Auf wiedersehen Zucker beach, hello to the other side of Negros Island, Negros Oriental. Filipino bus rides can be quite entertaining at times, on this one in particular I was lucky enough to witness what might have been a world record for the most passengers on one tricycle, and had an interesting conversation with a local about toilets. In the Philippines a toilet is also known as a comfort room, I explained that where I come from we sometimes call a toilet a ‘bog’. The word ‘bog’ is a strange word for a Filipino tongue to pronounce, ‘bo…borg…b-hog’ the guy couldn’t get his head around it…

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We spent a night in the provincial capital Dumaguete before heading down the coast to the small town of Dauin, pronounced the same but not to be confussed with Darwin in Australia of course. The purpose for coming to this place was to dive.

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Apo island is just off Negros and is said to have some of the best diving in the Philippines, although the guide books say that about pretty much every dive site, even though their so called travel writers don’t dive or even check out some places they write about. Apo means Grandfather in Tagalog so I’m hoping this island is going to be the Grandaddy of diving, lets wait and see.

The underwater real estate around the island was exceptional, in three dives around Apo, we saw many extra large turtles, pretty hideous frog fish and some black and white super poisonous sea snakes. We also swam through some volcanic water coming from the sea bed and encountered new breed of underwater creature called ‘the Korean diver’. We came across the large school of Koreans at the start of the first dive and I was not surprised that all they seem interested in doing was what they do best, taking photos of each other doing the peace sign underwater, with a camera which looked like a robot. All the gear, no idea…

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Ready to dive Apo?

When not swimming with the fish, we spent our time riding into the highlands to visit Casaroro falls around the area of Valencia and the hot springs. The hot springs were a nice place to spend a few hours, that is if you like sitting in a pool of scolding hot water reeking of rotten eggs…

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Eggy Water

The final dive of our stay here in Dauin was the ‘car wreck’. I’d like to say there was a cool story behind how the car got there, such as the Mitchell brothers of Dumaguete drove it into the azure after an argument got out of hand when one found out the other was having it away with his missus. But no, the car was just put there for divers 25 years ago. The wreck at 25 metres deep, barley resembled a car, but now serves as a meeting place for the local Lion fish.

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Car Wreck Briefing

For anyone heading into the area to dive, I recommend organising it through Bongo Bongo divers in Dauin. A new place with a relaxed home stay atmosphere. They do trips to Apo and excellent home-made sausages for BBQ nights! What more can you want! Check out their Facebook page here

Categories: Philippines | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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