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My Bone Marrow Transplant

Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

I really overdid it yesterday. While it was great fun I was dog tired by the time we got back to the hotel and could barely keep my eyes open during dinner. I was in bed by 8pm and slept so soundly even the family jumping up and down while watching Federer beat Djocovich did not disturb me. Linds woke me at 9:35pm so that i could take the last of my medications for the day but I was back asleep within 5 minutes.
So what did we do? I hear you ask. Well, dear reader, the day started with a 4:50am alarm and proceeded at a frenetic pace.
We had booked a van for 6am to take us to Bais City to go Dolphin watching. By the time we had picked up our breakfasts and sandwich lunches from Chico’s and got everything from the hotel it was 6:38am when we finally set off. It took about an hour to get to the boat departure point in Bais, and we headed out on a banca called Dolly. The crew were cooking rice on a home made Hibachi stove at the stern. They stopped at a large fishing banca and picked up some small fish for their lunch. We then headed across towards Cebu with 2 crew on the wheelhouse roof scanning for Dolphins.
There was another large boat in the distance and we headed towards it, sure enough it was full of Dolphin watchers and was following a pod. We soon had up to 10 small Dolphins playing around the bow of our banca with Sam, Linds and Cesca all taking photos. Some of the dolphins had distinct traits; one would bring most of his body out of the water and then slam it down onto the water, another would do a more traditional surface, but then flick his tail in the air and hit the water with it as he dove; still another would surface, twist onto her back and flick her tail rapidly to speed along. We saw several jump completely out of the water, but none of the ones that we were close to would oblige us with that trick. In total I estimate that there between 30 and 50 Dolphins but it is impossible to count them! In all we followed them for 30 minutes.
After the Dolphins we headed to the White Sands Bar, a shallow shoal in the middle of the sea where we anchored and had lunch. Francesca and Sam went swimming, but the current was quite strong so they didn’t stay in for very long. There are 4 huts on stilts on the sand bar which are available for rent. They aren’t that big but that didn’t stop a party of over 20 Koreans squeezing into one. We headed off to the Mangrove Swamp walk.
A long jetty sticks out from the Mangroves and the boat tied up to it. You walk into the swamp on this to view it. It was pleasing to see it was in good condition with lots of new shoots coming up. There was even a nursery there where they were growing small shoots in pots under the water to plant them elsewhere to strengthen the ecosystem.
From there we headed back to the departure point, very happy with day so far. We got back in the van and decided to head up to Mabinay to see the caves there. A good and bad decision as it turned out. The bad part was the ride there from Bais, in several places the road is in very poor condition and the van didn’t have the shock absorbers to cope with it properly. By the time that we got to Mabinay I was dreading the journey back!
The cave is reached by a badly eroded path which is slippery when wet, as we set out it started to rain so I put my diving boots on. Luckily the steps down to the cave are in very good condition. Inside there is no lighting so we had to use head lamps. There are spectacular stalagmites and stalactites, plus enormous cave spiders, tailless scorpions and nesting swallows. I did spot some spot lights and queried why it wasn’t working. “Oh, the wiring shorts out due to all the rain” was the explanation. The wire and steel walkway is also in need of repair in parts. Like so much in the Philippines there is no concept of preventive, proactive, maintenance, so sites like the caves which could attract more visitors decay. What happens to the cave entry fee? Why isn’t it used to maintain the infrastructure? There aren’t even toilets on the site. ¬† Having said that, the guides were incredibly helpful and eager to impart information about the caves.
The journey home wasn’t as bad as I feared, even though we crosses the mountains in a fierce rainstorm.


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