Donsol

After a long trip down from Sagada, our plane had an aborted landing due to strong tailwinds (rather than the actively erupting Volcano nearby) but we eventually made it to Legazpi City.

Our plane happily on the tarmac

From Legazpi, we hopped in our first tricycle, which is the Filipino version of a tuk-tuk to take us to the bus station. From there, we found a bus which was half full. That was a problem as the busses only leave when full and there were no more flights arriving for a while, so all the passengers essentially paid 2 fares each to get going then and there.

The bus took us for 2 hours to the small town of Donsol, where we were hoping to see some Whale Sharks in their natural environment. We were staying in town, which turned out to be a mistake as everything was up by the Whale Shark centre 4km out of town.

For our first day we went up to the centre to find out how it all worked before sitting in one of the resorts, by the pool for essentially the rest of the day. It was really pleasant and very, almost eerily, quiet with only 3 or 4 other people around.

For dinner we went to a small seafood restaurant and had some superb fish. The place, Barracuda, was run by a crazy lady but she knew how to cook a fish! Sadly, when we finished there were no taxis to take us back to town so we had to walk the 4km back in the dark. When we got back, we discovered we had been locked out hich wasn’t great news so had to get the owner out of bed to let us back in.

The next day we went out on a boat to try and find some Whale Sharks, but it was raining quite a lot and because of the recent storms there hadn’t been many sightings recently. The guide was quite informative which was nice, but after 3 hours of sitting on a boat chugging around we had seen absolutely nothing so returned to shore a little disappointed. Apparently when the weather is bad they tend to dive down quite deep and that was the reason there weren’t many around at the time.

The spotter, who spent 3 hours stuck up there with nothing to see
A piece of Whale Shark spine – part of the educational talk we were given

We returned to the resort from the day before for the afternoon, before heading off on a firefly tour in the evening. This was a boat up the river at night to see the local population of fireflies. It was surprisingly good, with another good guide and the fireflies themselves really nice to see. The stars were also incredible – there was almost no light at all so you could see absolutely loads of them.

We had dinner again in Barracuda as it was so good, and this time had some absolutely enormous shrimp which were incredibly tasty and cheap too! This time when we saw a taxi driver who had driven us around a fair bit already drop someone else off, we asked him to wait while we paid to save us walking again like the previous night. The woman who ran the place knew him and gave him a beer, then gave us lots of rum for no apparent reason. We hung around and played darts for a bit while everyone finished their drinks before heading back to bed.

We went for a stroll around the town in the morning to find breakfast and discovered a really friendly place. It’s not a town you can easily find breakfast though and we had to settle for a distinctly average burger before heading to the bus stop to find a ride back to the airport. When we arrived we met a couple of German guys who were heading in the same direction, which would become a theme of the next few days. The bus driver drove incredibly fast and the journey that had taken 2 hours the first time took just over 1 hour on the way back. We were all glad to be out of the bus when we arrived!

We needed lunch before out flight so went into the Legazpi City Mall, which was surprisingly fancy and new. Inside we found a restaurant that served ribs, so Claire vacated her vegetarianism for an hour and demolished some pig. The restaurant was very vocal and every time a customer walked in all the staff would yell “hola, welcome to Gringos”, which nearly made me walk immediately back out. The birthday singing was also pretty full on! The food however was good and we went over to the airport to catch our flight full up and content, despite what had ultimately been a bit of a disappointing and unsuccessful excursion.

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