Swimming with the whale sharks was amazing, but it wasn’t even my favorite part of the trip! Next post I’ll talk about canyoneering, and how our family needed to be rescued after jumping off a cliff!
It’s been far too long, but I’ve finally got a bit of free time and no trips planned for a whole month. Back to June. Back to The Philippines. Back to diving.
The Philippines is known worldwide for its diving. From the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park to the biodiversity of Puerto Galera, its a diver’s heaven. Though I’ll never tire of swimming alongside colorful marine life and spotting exotic animals, there’s something a bit more thrilling about doing so in a shipwreck. And Coron Bay has many to choose from.
A little bit of History
On September 23, 1944, Combat Air Control reported enemy activity in the area. The aircraft carriers USS Lexington, USS Intrepid, and USS Cabot ordered 24 bombers and 96 fighters to cover a chart distance of 350 miles on the following day. What happened next became one of the longest bombing missions in the history of U.S. naval aviation: a three hour flight before the attack that led to the ten shipwrecks.
For a thorough history of how the wrecks came to be, head to Coron Bay Air Raid History.
Seventy years later, these wrecks have become artificial reefs and are teeming with wildlife. After receiving our diving certifications, it was time for Mark and I to scuba-suit up and see for ourselves.
Our first dive was through Olympia Maru. In the photo of the guidebook above, you can see that there are four openings at the top of the ship. From the second one from the right was where we entered, and we made our way through. We had to be very careful of our breathing to be sure not to become more buoyant and hit our heads on the roofs of the ship.
We could see many shipping containers with Japanese writing and cargo drums. It was amazing to see something so human, yet so foreign to the other world that we’ve found under the sea, where tropical fish and corals had claimed it as their own. The ship was so big, it was like a warehouse was just dropped into the ocean.
Not gonna lie, I was totally feeling some Little Mermaid vibes. Unfortunately, we hadn’t yet bought our GoPro, so here’s some low-quality printed photos of the site:
Next up was Morazan Maru.
This one had far more traces of human life, as it was a passenger ship. There was even a toilet! Through the years of deterioration, its turned more into a few large chunks of porcelain, but it was still neat. Because Morazan Maru sunk onto its side, it was more challenging to orient where was up and down and it was more difficult to make our way through the narrow passageways of the ship without disturbing the corals.
What was really cool about this dive was that because of it’s side orientation, there’s a big pocket of air within the walls of the base of the ship. So we were able to take off our regulators and breathe some [not at all] fresh air all the way unda da sea.
Last up was Teru Kaze Maru.
Diving along with us was a guide, as well as a young tourist from the UK. He opted out of this last dive, as he said he had been travelling throughout Australia and South Asia for the last four months and his resources were depleted.
When we got back on the boat, I didn’t want to break it to him that it was my favorite of the dives. This wreck was much closer to the surface, so light was abundant, the colors of sea life and coral were far more vibrant and the corals were less spread apart. It was also a very small ship, so from the outside I was more able to see the shape of the hull more clearly. While Olympia Maru felt like a warehouse and Morazan Maru was disorienting, this one was without a doubt a ship. Hah! Not like I was doubting the others were, ;).
That being said, I think that whichever shipwreck dive is my latest will likely be my favorite. Diving, for me, is not one of those “you’ve seen one and you’ve seen ’em all” kind of things. It’s a more colorful, more thrilling, underwater hiking. It’s always different, full of sights, full of energy, and stunning.
Until next time,
Featured image via: diveprice.com.
While we were in Puerto Rico, I was sure to knock off a bucket list item:
103. Zip line through the Jungle ✓
There are few zip line adventure companies that allow children along for the ride. In the San Juan area of Puerto Rico, we could only find one. Our son is seven and many require a minimum age of ten years old.
Tropical Adventures in Dorado, a short drive from San Juan, has an accessible course that allows anyone from “six years old, to healthy seventy year olds.”
The views of the Rainforest as we were zip lining were absolutely breathtaking.
Tobias is afraid of heights, so I was really worried about this excursion before the trip. Continue reading
I had a house guest all of last week, so I wasn’t able to make time to post. BUT! Last week, she and I decided on a girls’ trip for the summer and Mark and I began taking steps for one in the spring. I’m so excited to finally have not one but two international trips to plan for. After all, some find that the anticipation of travel is just as rewarding as the travel itself.
There are so many different types of travelers. Some prefer all inclusive, some like to wing it, some people would rather lie on a beach than do anything else on this earth. Not I. I’m a planner, through and through. Continue reading
After taking our road trip from Denver through Wyoming, we arrived late (and tired!) to Yellowstone. We woke up still tired, but ready for some action and excitement. For the three following days that we spent in Yellowstone, we had plenty.
If you’ve got Yellowstone on your bucket list, I highly recommend you do the following: Continue reading
Day two of our honeymoon in Kyoto can’t be shoved into one post. It just can’t. First up, I’ll talk about my two favorite/most picture heavy activities from the day: Arashiyama Bamboo Forest & Monkey Park Iwatayama. Continue reading
Southern California has a special place in my heart. Mark and I took our first ever trip to San Diego, and I’m sure to always include it when I drag out our love story. The weather is grand, the people are beautiful, and the produce tastes so luscious. We went back to SD a year after our first trip for him to run a marathon, but three weeks ago we brought ‘Bias for his first time to The Golden State. My mom came along for the ride, too.
Mark and I flew together, and arrived in L.A. a day earlier than my mom & Tobias, so that they could fulfill their school/work duties for one more day. Right after we got our rental car, we went straight to the Hollywood sign because priorities.
Glass blowing is something I had always wanted to try. When I wrote my bucket list, it was among the many things which I thought seemed distant and unrealistic. In fact, the bucket list in it’s entirety seemed that way when I first wrote it. That’s worth it’s own entry, though. I digress.
I didn’t take any photos while I was in the studio, because I was elbows deep into molten glass. Not really, I just like how terrifying that imagery is. I don’t know why I assumed that blowing glass wouldn’t be difficult. Perhaps it was the Chihuly videos I had watched the day before at the exhibit, where I saw the ease only a genius of their craft could have doing their work firsthand. Everything about it was challenging. We had to place a cement block next to the furnace just so that I’d be able to reach into it to efficiently place the molten glass on the pipe. The glass was, as you would expect, lava hot. The distance at which you had to be was close enough was painful. I wondered if I should have worn sunscreen. You’d really think I would have taken the heat to MELT GLASS into consideration, or that the last twenty five years of enduring Texas summers was training for this day. Nope.
Inside the furnace was fluorescent orange from the immense heat, with the vat inside filled to the brim with clear molten glass. When you’re gathering the glass to the pipe, the glass has the density of molasses. You’ve got to lightly dip the pipe into the glass and quickly take it out of the vat while spinning the pipe, but leaving it in the furnace. However, the glass is invisible and your eyelashes are being singed off while you’re looking for it. Watch out for that. You repeat the dip, lift, and spin process a few times, until you have enough glass on your pipe. Then you take it over to an area with a tub of water, roll the parts of the pipe that don’t have the glass on it in the wetness to cool it, and by then the glass has also had a moment to cool.
So you take the pipe to another oven. This one doesn’t have molten glass inside and it’s a bit cooler, at roughly 2349826352001 degrees Fahrenheit. I resisted the urge to put on my sweater. They call this oven the Glory Hole. As in, “I put my rod into the glory hole” or “Its really hot on the other side of the glory hole” or “Don’t get to close to the glory hole, or it’ll melt your face off.” Through the process of shaping and blowing the glass, you will frequently return to the glory hole to keep the glass hot enough to manipulate. You can shape the clay by using various tools: over-sized tweezers, some intense looking scissors, wooden molds, and the A, B, and C section of a newspaper, folded up into a five inch square and submersed in water. The tweezers seemed like they’d be the coolest, because you could pull the glass into shapes. If you were good at it. If it’s your first time, it feels like there’s another human equal your size pulling in the opposite direction of the glass so that you can’t do it. But there isn’t, it’s just glass. And it’s hard to move glass no matter how hot it is.
With a lot of help from the instructor, I ended the day with a paperweight, an ornament, a candy dish, and a disfigured octobust for Tobias. (I meant to type octopus, but I felt that typo was appropriate. I’m just instinctively funny like that, I guess.) It was really cool, in a burning lava hot kind of way, and I would definitely go for another shot at it, with hope I would get better with practice.