A Travellerspoint blog

Super Ultimate Island Tour in Coron, Philippines

Giant grouper hiding in giant barrel sponge; I think this grouper has found an awesome home and he's just porching watching the happenings outside

Giant grouper hiding in giant barrel sponge; I think this grouper has found an awesome home and he's just porching watching the happenings outside

Clownfish are sequential hermaphrodites, meaning they develop into males first, and when they mature, they become females; if the female clownfish is removed from the group, such as by death, one of the largest and most dominant males becomes a female

Clownfish are sequential hermaphrodites, meaning they develop into males first, and when they mature, they become females; if the female clownfish is removed from the group, such as by death, one of the largest and most dominant males becomes a female

This is supposedly the most photographed spot in the Philippines at the entrance to Lake Kayangan; the view was definitely worth the climb up but the lake itself was nothing special

This is supposedly the most photographed spot in the Philippines at the entrance to Lake Kayangan; the view was definitely worth the climb up but the lake itself was nothing special

Copperband butterflyfish; many of my excursion mates had visited El Nido too and we all agreed that we preferred Coron for better scenery and smaller crowds

Copperband butterflyfish; many of my excursion mates had visited El Nido too and we all agreed that we preferred Coron for better scenery and smaller crowds

Chocolate chip sea star; my bangka for the day trip was named Jemimah (that didn't seem very politically correct and when I asked who Jemimah was the workers didn't know)

Chocolate chip sea star; my bangka for the day trip was named Jemimah (that didn't seem very politically correct and when I asked who Jemimah was the workers didn't know)

Razorfish; this unique fish adopts a head-down tail-up position as an adaptation for hiding among sea urchin spines and eats mainly small brine shrimp and other small invertebrates

Razorfish; this unique fish adopts a head-down tail-up position as an adaptation for hiding among sea urchin spines and eats mainly small brine shrimp and other small invertebrates

The egg ribbon of a Spanish Dancer nudibranch corresponds to the size of nudibranch so it's quite a large sea slug (about 8-12 inches long)

The egg ribbon of a Spanish Dancer nudibranch corresponds to the size of nudibranch so it's quite a large sea slug (about 8-12 inches long)

This magnificent coral looks more like a painting of a delicate flower; it really makes you appreciate the beauty that many never see that lies underwater

This magnificent coral looks more like a painting of a delicate flower; it really makes you appreciate the beauty that many never see that lies underwater

In Hollywood-style, Coron has its name in big letters above the town; you can also hike up 700  steps to the top of Mt Tapyas for a great view

In Hollywood-style, Coron has its name in big letters above the town; you can also hike up 700+ steps to the top of Mt Tapyas for a great view

Spotted cod (aka coral trout); Coron is only about 50 miles north of El Nido

Spotted cod (aka coral trout); Coron is only about 50 miles north of El Nido

Scribbled pufferfish; this solitary species contains tetrodotoxin - an extremely toxic sodium channel blocker which protects it from predators

Scribbled pufferfish; this solitary species contains tetrodotoxin - an extremely toxic sodium channel blocker which protects it from predators

The vivid colors of a nudibranch signal its predators that the animal to be preyed upon has a toxin that may become distasteful when eaten; the potency of the toxin is not lethal but is primarily focused as a chemical defense mechanism

The vivid colors of a nudibranch signal its predators that the animal to be preyed upon has a toxin that may become distasteful when eaten; the potency of the toxin is not lethal but is primarily focused as a chemical defense mechanism

Occasionally I'd see huge schools of juvenile fish like this and I'd wonder how they avoid bumping into each other; I guess the claustrophobic fish leave the security of the school and probably get eaten (survival of the fittest)

Occasionally I'd see huge schools of juvenile fish like this and I'd wonder how they avoid bumping into each other; I guess the claustrophobic fish leave the security of the school and probably get eaten (survival of the fittest)

This is the entrance to Twin Lagoon which allowed barely enough room to snorkel; the Coron island hopping tours featured many cool geologic formations and they weren't that far from Coron town

This is the entrance to Twin Lagoon which allowed barely enough room to snorkel; the Coron island hopping tours featured many cool geologic formations and they weren't that far from Coron town

A field of black long spine sea urchins; for those who forgot to bring water shoes these sea urchins were everywhere and convinced tourists to buy or rent a pair

A field of black long spine sea urchins; for those who forgot to bring water shoes these sea urchins were everywhere and convinced tourists to buy or rent a pair

A banded Friant's sea star with a pattern more appropriately found on a snake; it was fascinating to see how species differed just in the short distance between Coron and El Nido

A banded Friant's sea star with a pattern more appropriately found on a snake; it was fascinating to see how species differed just in the short distance between Coron and El Nido

Sea squirt couple; in the van both coming and going from the airport in Coron the driver had an old Kenny Rogers CD playing (I wonder if it was the only CD he had)

Sea squirt couple; in the van both coming and going from the airport in Coron the driver had an old Kenny Rogers CD playing (I wonder if it was the only CD he had)

This is the main road in Coron (notice there are no cars); there is a hot spring nearby overlooking the sea that is quite popular but I didn't care to go

This is the main road in Coron (notice there are no cars); there is a hot spring nearby overlooking the sea that is quite popular but I didn't care to go

Purple finger coral reminds me of Thing from the Addams Family; I saw no other examples like this during my visit

Purple finger coral reminds me of Thing from the Addams Family; I saw no other examples like this during my visit

The coral gardens we visited were in excellent condition despite periodic typhoons here; the water visibility was great as this scene is probably 30 feet down

The coral gardens we visited were in excellent condition despite periodic typhoons here; the water visibility was great as this scene is probably 30 feet down

My budget lodging in Coron had an all-in-one bathroom; the room had a comfy bed and good AC so I could make do

My budget lodging in Coron had an all-in-one bathroom; the room had a comfy bed and good AC so I could make do

I encountered this enormous jellyfish while my group was having lunch; it had long tentacles and was (fortunately) the only one I saw that looked like this

I encountered this enormous jellyfish while my group was having lunch; it had long tentacles and was (fortunately) the only one I saw that looked like this

The excursions were more adventurous than I expected and required decent swimming skills; I was typically the oldest guest on each day trip

The excursions were more adventurous than I expected and required decent swimming skills; I was typically the oldest guest on each day trip

This type of golden sponge was frequently spotted in the waters around Coron; the water temperature was 82 degrees which felt refreshing but some got cold, after swimming, sitting in the shade and wind on the bangka

This type of golden sponge was frequently spotted in the waters around Coron; the water temperature was 82 degrees which felt refreshing but some got cold, after swimming, sitting in the shade and wind on the bangka

Black spotted pufferfish; Philippine peso bills start with a 20 denomination which is only about 40 US cents which is nice because you tend not to accumulate coins

Black spotted pufferfish; Philippine peso bills start with a 20 denomination which is only about 40 US cents which is nice because you tend not to accumulate coins

Barracuda; many locals have really bad teeth and/or are missing teeth, even young people

Barracuda; many locals have really bad teeth and/or are missing teeth, even young people

It can be challenging telling corals from sponges sometimes but this is the first sponge I've seen that actually looks like what one expects a sponge to be

It can be challenging telling corals from sponges sometimes but this is the first sponge I've seen that actually looks like what one expects a sponge to be

The largest (and only stadium) in Coron is not for soccer but for cockfighting; that explains why roosters are everywhere and noisy day and night

The largest (and only stadium) in Coron is not for soccer but for cockfighting; that explains why roosters are everywhere and noisy day and night

Titan triggerfish; I saw this species often but they were typically camera shy and would swim away as soon as I got close

Titan triggerfish; I saw this species often but they were typically camera shy and would swim away as soon as I got close

In addition to typical American junk food, there are Asian flavors that I'm sure my friends would try; I've discovered that locals don't eat cereal to my dismay

In addition to typical American junk food, there are Asian flavors that I'm sure my friends would try; I've discovered that locals don't eat cereal to my dismay

Posted by RNRiggins 07:28 Comments (0)

Luang Prabang - Laotian city of Buddhist temples

Wat Pha Bang is the temple for the former Royal Palace; every morning, hundreds of monks from the various monasteries walk through the streets collecting alms

Wat Pha Bang is the temple for the former Royal Palace; every morning, hundreds of monks from the various monasteries walk through the streets collecting alms

Wat Mahathat; Luong Prabang gained UNESCO status for unique and remarkably well preserved architectural, religious and cultural heritage, including the French colonial influences during the 19th and 20th centuries

Wat Mahathat; Luong Prabang gained UNESCO status for unique and remarkably well preserved architectural, religious and cultural heritage, including the French colonial influences during the 19th and 20th centuries

Wat Sensoukarahm; most of the temples also had smaller temples, stupas, schools, libraries and/or other auxiliary buildings on the grounds

Wat Sensoukarahm; most of the temples also had smaller temples, stupas, schools, libraries and/or other auxiliary buildings on the grounds

Monks were a common sight around town; most of the temples had resident monks including many who were quite young (the minimum age to become a Buddhist monk is 8)

Monks were a common sight around town; most of the temples had resident monks including many who were quite young (the minimum age to become a Buddhist monk is 8)

Wat Xieng Thong is Luang Prabang's best known monastery and is centered around this 1560 ordination hall; mosaics covered all the buildings with this tree of life mosaic being especially impressive

Wat Xieng Thong is Luang Prabang's best known monastery and is centered around this 1560 ordination hall; mosaics covered all the buildings with this tree of life mosaic being especially impressive

This bamboo bridge crosses the Nam Khan River with the Mekong on the far left; there is a small charge to cross the bridge during the day but at night it is free; they rebuild the bridge every year after monsoon season

This bamboo bridge crosses the Nam Khan River with the Mekong on the far left; there is a small charge to cross the bridge during the day but at night it is free; they rebuild the bridge every year after monsoon season

Wat Sopsickaram; it amazed us how such a small place could support so many temples (some temples were right next door to each other; maybe they are different sects)

Wat Sopsickaram; it amazed us how such a small place could support so many temples (some temples were right next door to each other; maybe they are different sects)

Wat Sibounheuang; the Lao currency is the kip and currently $1 USD = 8586 kip; the smallest bill I've seen is for 500 kip or 6 US cents

Wat Sibounheuang; the Lao currency is the kip and currently $1 USD = 8586 kip; the smallest bill I've seen is for 500 kip or 6 US cents

The view from the top of 490 ft high Mount Phou Si; with the smoke and smog, we were disappointed that the view wasn't spectacular like my guide book promised

The view from the top of 490 ft high Mount Phou Si; with the smoke and smog, we were disappointed that the view wasn't spectacular like my guide book promised

Wat Pa Phai; one of the oldest temples in the city dating from either 1645 or 1815 that has ornate murals inside reflecting sequences from the lives of ordinary Laotian people

Wat Pa Phai; one of the oldest temples in the city dating from either 1645 or 1815 that has ornate murals inside reflecting sequences from the lives of ordinary Laotian people

There was actually a decent supermarket here that had Quaker Oatmeal Squares and Froot Loops; there were plenty of authentic local foods as well

There was actually a decent supermarket here that had Quaker Oatmeal Squares and Froot Loops; there were plenty of authentic local foods as well

Wat Syrimoungkoun; entering Laos from Thailand you can buy a visa on arrival for $35 USD if you bring a passport photo (it's $1 more if they have to provide the photo)

Wat Syrimoungkoun; entering Laos from Thailand you can buy a visa on arrival for $35 USD if you bring a passport photo (it's $1 more if they have to provide the photo)

Wat Siphoutthabath Tippharam; Luong Prabang was the royal capital and seat of government of the Kingdom of Laos, until the Pathet Lao takeover in 1975

Wat Siphoutthabath Tippharam; Luong Prabang was the royal capital and seat of government of the Kingdom of Laos, until the Pathet Lao takeover in 1975

Painted wall inside Wat Xieng Thong; there are no multinational fast food outlets in Laos but, in addition to popular street food, there were some nice, high-end restaurants here

Painted wall inside Wat Xieng Thong; there are no multinational fast food outlets in Laos but, in addition to popular street food, there were some nice, high-end restaurants here

The Lao language is pretty impossible to decipher but many (far from all) signs are also in English; the locals typically have very limited English language skills despite the large number of tourists

The Lao language is pretty impossible to decipher but many (far from all) signs are also in English; the locals typically have very limited English language skills despite the large number of tourists

Chapel hall at Wat Xieng Thong; with 3 nights at the same hotel it was easy to have laundry done here (and cheap at $1 for every 2 pounds)

Chapel hall at Wat Xieng Thong; with 3 nights at the same hotel it was easy to have laundry done here (and cheap at $1 for every 2 pounds)

Wat Tham Phu Si; this temple is located in a cave on the side of Phu Si hill that contains one of the oldest statues of Buddha, done in Pha Kachai style

Wat Tham Phu Si; this temple is located in a cave on the side of Phu Si hill that contains one of the oldest statues of Buddha, done in Pha Kachai style

Wat Pha Bang hosts the most sacred Buddha image in town; several in our group went bike riding and/or got cheap massages

Wat Pha Bang hosts the most sacred Buddha image in town; several in our group went bike riding and/or got cheap massages

Wat Sensoukarahm (1718); the town was the scene of many events during WW II and was occupied by several foreign countries (Vichy France, Thailand, Imperial Japan, Free France, and Nationalist China)

Wat Sensoukarahm (1718); the town was the scene of many events during WW II and was occupied by several foreign countries (Vichy France, Thailand, Imperial Japan, Free France, and Nationalist China)

Posted by RNRiggins 18:02 Comments (0)

Chiang Mai - Thailand's famous, authentic second city

Each temple, like Wat Phra Singh, has multiple buildings and monuments with the significance of each being very complicated; even at temples where we had a guide the stories behind the different elements remained confusing

Each temple, like Wat Phra Singh, has multiple buildings and monuments with the significance of each being very complicated; even at temples where we had a guide the stories behind the different elements remained confusing

The most impressive feature of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is the chedi towering 79 feet; this gold plated spire is typical of Northern Thailand with its heightened octagonal base, ringed spire, smooth spire, and tiered chatra (umbrella) at the top

The most impressive feature of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is the chedi towering 79 feet; this gold plated spire is typical of Northern Thailand with its heightened octagonal base, ringed spire, smooth spire, and tiered chatra (umbrella) at the top

Wat Phan Tao is the most atmospheric temple in Chiang Mai's old city; the highlight is an enormous prayer hall supported by 28  gargantuan teak pillars

Wat Phan Tao is the most atmospheric temple in Chiang Mai's old city; the highlight is an enormous prayer hall supported by 28 gargantuan teak pillars

Construction on Wat Phra Singh began in 1345 when King Phayu,:226–227 the fifth king of the Mangrai dynasty, had a chedi built to house the ashes of his father King Kham Fu

Construction on Wat Phra Singh began in 1345 when King Phayu,:226–227 the fifth king of the Mangrai dynasty, had a chedi built to house the ashes of his father King Kham Fu

Wat Chiang Man; the rest of the group was taking a cooking class which I skipped to visit the most famous temples in Chiang Mai

Wat Chiang Man; the rest of the group was taking a cooking class which I skipped to visit the most famous temples in Chiang Mai

We had a 13 hour journey on the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai; it was an efficient and authentic experience and I actually slept pretty well (though Jonathan didn't)

We had a 13 hour journey on the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai; it was an efficient and authentic experience and I actually slept pretty well (though Jonathan didn't)

The Phra Buddha Sihing statue inside Wihan Lai Kham at Wat Phra Singh; Chiang Mai was the former capital of the kingdom of Lan Na (1296–1768)

The Phra Buddha Sihing statue inside Wihan Lai Kham at Wat Phra Singh; Chiang Mai was the former capital of the kingdom of Lan Na (1296–1768)

The city pillar shrine at Wat Chedi Luang is supposed to protect the town; a festival in honor of the city pillar is held every year in May and lasts 6–8 days

The city pillar shrine at Wat Chedi Luang is supposed to protect the town; a festival in honor of the city pillar is held every year in May and lasts 6–8 days

The construction of the temple at Wat Chedi Luang began in the 14th century but wasn't completed until the mid-15th century; it was then 82 m high and had a base diameter of 54 m, at that time the largest building of all Lanna

The construction of the temple at Wat Chedi Luang began in the 14th century but wasn't completed until the mid-15th century; it was then 82 m high and had a base diameter of 54 m, at that time the largest building of all Lanna

The original gold plated chedi at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is the most holy area of the temple grounds; within the site are pagodas, statues, bells, a museum, and shrines

The original gold plated chedi at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is the most holy area of the temple grounds; within the site are pagodas, statues, bells, a museum, and shrines

The view from Wat Phra That Doi Suthep shows the serious air pollution problem Chiang Mai incurs every year during the dry season

The view from Wat Phra That Doi Suthep shows the serious air pollution problem Chiang Mai incurs every year during the dry season

There are scheduled times at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep where visitors can observe monks at prayer; everyone taking photos of people praying struck me as disrespectful but obviously the temple uses this to draw paying tourists

There are scheduled times at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep where visitors can observe monks at prayer; everyone taking photos of people praying struck me as disrespectful but obviously the temple uses this to draw paying tourists

Chiang Mai has several night markets where sidewalk vendors line many city blocks selling all manner of goods; some of the items were quality, locally made items while others were cheap Chinese items

Chiang Mai has several night markets where sidewalk vendors line many city blocks selling all manner of goods; some of the items were quality, locally made items while others were cheap Chinese items

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep was an impressive temple complex but I felt it was too Disneyfied and lacked authenticity; there are elephant sanctuaries nearby but we didn't have time to visit

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep was an impressive temple complex but I felt it was too Disneyfied and lacked authenticity; there are elephant sanctuaries nearby but we didn't have time to visit

Wat Chedi Luang was my favorite temple complex in Chiang Mai's old city; the temple hosts monk chats every day - tourists are invited to speak with monks (usually novices) and ask them anything about Buddhism or Thailand

Wat Chedi Luang was my favorite temple complex in Chiang Mai's old city; the temple hosts monk chats every day - tourists are invited to speak with monks (usually novices) and ask them anything about Buddhism or Thailand

Each temple, like Wat Phra Singh, had lots of places where you could make donations; the temples in Chiang Mai were much more visited by tourists than by people going to pray

Each temple, like Wat Phra Singh, had lots of places where you could make donations; the temples in Chiang Mai were much more visited by tourists than by people going to pray

Monks are often very well educated because they can attend university for free; monks were ubiquitous walking around the city

Monks are often very well educated because they can attend university for free; monks were ubiquitous walking around the city

Wat Phra Singh is dominated by this enormous, mosaic-inland sanctuary; the prosperity is plain to see from the lavish monastic buildings and immaculately maintained grounds

Wat Phra Singh is dominated by this enormous, mosaic-inland sanctuary; the prosperity is plain to see from the lavish monastic buildings and immaculately maintained grounds

Each side of the square base of the main chedi of Wat Phra Singh features the front half of an elephant emerging from it; after it was built in 1345, the chedi was enlarged several times

Each side of the square base of the main chedi of Wat Phra Singh features the front half of an elephant emerging from it; after it was built in 1345, the chedi was enlarged several times

Wat Chiang Man contains the oldest known Buddha image created by the Lanna kingdom, cast in 1465; Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand with 1.2 million people in the metro area

Wat Chiang Man contains the oldest known Buddha image created by the Lanna kingdom, cast in 1465; Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand with 1.2 million people in the metro area

Wat Phra Singh is Chiang Mai's most revered temple; pilgrims flock here to venerate the famous Lion Buddha

Wat Phra Singh is Chiang Mai's most revered temple; pilgrims flock here to venerate the famous Lion Buddha

The Thai sleeper train is quite different from others I've taken; the car had upper and lower berths with a curtain for privacy and quite dated communal bathrooms

The Thai sleeper train is quite different from others I've taken; the car had upper and lower berths with a curtain for privacy and quite dated communal bathrooms

Our tour guide enjoyed taking group photos so he could show how much fun we were having; the poses were not of our choosing

Our tour guide enjoyed taking group photos so he could show how much fun we were having; the poses were not of our choosing

Wat Chiang Man is Chiang Mai's oldest temple and was established by the city's founder sometime around 1296; Thais drive on the left (like the British) but the traffic flow often seems very confusing so I wouldn't want to drive here

Wat Chiang Man is Chiang Mai's oldest temple and was established by the city's founder sometime around 1296; Thais drive on the left (like the British) but the traffic flow often seems very confusing so I wouldn't want to drive here

Wat Chiang Man; at each temple you have to take your shoes off and often shoulders have to be covered (the rules are more strict for women)

Wat Chiang Man; at each temple you have to take your shoes off and often shoulders have to be covered (the rules are more strict for women)

Our tour group going through a Buddhist prayer with the monk at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep with the monk then giving the group his blessing; the temple is said to have been founded in 1383 when the first stupa was built

Our tour group going through a Buddhist prayer with the monk at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep with the monk then giving the group his blessing; the temple is said to have been founded in 1383 when the first stupa was built

Wat Chedi Luang; practically every other shop in the city offers some variety of Thai massage at very low prices (I didn't challenge them to work on my broken body)

Wat Chedi Luang; practically every other shop in the city offers some variety of Thai massage at very low prices (I didn't challenge them to work on my broken body)

There were 306 steps up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep; this sacred site to many Thai people is 15 kilometers outside of Chiang Mai

There were 306 steps up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep; this sacred site to many Thai people is 15 kilometers outside of Chiang Mai

In 1800 King Chao Kawilaalso planted three dipterocarp trees at the city pillar shrine, this shrine has been the only one on the trip where females were not allowed

In 1800 King Chao Kawilaalso planted three dipterocarp trees at the city pillar shrine, this shrine has been the only one on the trip where females were not allowed

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep can get 120,000 visitors per month, with numbers being higher during holidays like Songkhan and Visakha Bucha Day when local people climb the mountain and sleep on the esplanade of the temple to commemorate the birth of the Buddha

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep can get 120,000 visitors per month, with numbers being higher during holidays like Songkhan and Visakha Bucha Day when local people climb the mountain and sleep on the esplanade of the temple to commemorate the birth of the Buddha

Murals at the city pillar shrine at Wat Chedi Luang; even in early March, the temperature today was 100 degrees and I was constantly drinking Coke Zero and Gatorade

Murals at the city pillar shrine at Wat Chedi Luang; even in early March, the temperature today was 100 degrees and I was constantly drinking Coke Zero and Gatorade

Parts of Chiang Mai at night are reminiscent of downtown Las Vegas; there are chain restaurants, street vendors and lots of tourists

Parts of Chiang Mai at night are reminiscent of downtown Las Vegas; there are chain restaurants, street vendors and lots of tourists

Every element of a Buddhist temple is a work of a art such as this door from Wat Phra Singh; most temples are free but some charge small admission fees (typically $1 or less)

Every element of a Buddhist temple is a work of a art such as this door from Wat Phra Singh; most temples are free but some charge small admission fees (typically $1 or less)

Construction of Wat Phan Tao began in the late 14th century; the monastery is a monument to the teak trade

Construction of Wat Phan Tao began in the late 14th century; the monastery is a monument to the teak trade

In Wat Phra Singh, Wihan Lai Kham was built in 1345 to house the Phra Buddha Singh statue and it is a prime example of classical Lanna architecture

In Wat Phra Singh, Wihan Lai Kham was built in 1345 to house the Phra Buddha Singh statue and it is a prime example of classical Lanna architecture

The reclining buddha at Wat Chedi Luang; tuk tuks were a very affordable way to get around with old city fares of about $3 per trip

The reclining buddha at Wat Chedi Luang; tuk tuks were a very affordable way to get around with old city fares of about $3 per trip

The murals of the wihan at Wat Phra Singh are exceptional; they tell Buddhist stories and impressed me with their detail and vibrant colors

The murals of the wihan at Wat Phra Singh are exceptional; they tell Buddhist stories and impressed me with their detail and vibrant colors

Posted by RNRiggins 17:15 Comments (0)

Disappointing scuba diving in Coron, Philippines

Electric disco clam; the clam has been given this nickname because its soft tissues flash light like a disco ball (it is the only bivalve known to have light displays)

Electric disco clam; the clam has been given this nickname because its soft tissues flash light like a disco ball (it is the only bivalve known to have light displays)

My divemaster thought I'd like a photo of me (or he just wanted to see my camera) so here I am near the East Tangat Gun Boat

My divemaster thought I'd like a photo of me (or he just wanted to see my camera) so here I am near the East Tangat Gun Boat

A beautiful coral bowl with trim; the coral here was infinitely more impressive and photogenic than the fish

A beautiful coral bowl with trim; the coral here was infinitely more impressive and photogenic than the fish

Clownfish live only 3-5 years in captivity but can live more than 10 years in the wild; there are no clownfish species that live in the Atlantic Ocean

Clownfish live only 3-5 years in captivity but can live more than 10 years in the wild; there are no clownfish species that live in the Atlantic Ocean

A pipefish looks like a straight-bodied seahorse with a tiny mouth; the name is derived from the peculiar form of the snout, which is like a long tube, ending in a narrow and small mouth which opens upwards and is toothless

A pipefish looks like a straight-bodied seahorse with a tiny mouth; the name is derived from the peculiar form of the snout, which is like a long tube, ending in a narrow and small mouth which opens upwards and is toothless

A Friant's sea star appears to be clinging on for dear life (or maybe he's just being friendly)

A Friant's sea star appears to be clinging on for dear life (or maybe he's just being friendly)

Sea squirt couple; it was treacherous getting on and off the bangkas as you walked a plank to get on the first boat and then had to cross from boat to boat to reach the boat in the back (I actually tumbled into the water one day!)

Sea squirt couple; it was treacherous getting on and off the bangkas as you walked a plank to get on the first boat and then had to cross from boat to boat to reach the boat in the back (I actually tumbled into the water one day!)

Lobed brain coral; this looks like something left behind after an autopsy; there were virtually no kids vacationing here since there is really nothing of interest for them

Lobed brain coral; this looks like something left behind after an autopsy; there were virtually no kids vacationing here since there is really nothing of interest for them

Vermiculated angelfish; often mistaken as a butterflyfish (that was my thought too) this species ranges from Japan south to Indonesia

Vermiculated angelfish; often mistaken as a butterflyfish (that was my thought too) this species ranges from Japan south to Indonesia

This HUGE lionfish was in the cargo hold of the Morazan Maru; it was one of only two lionfish I saw in Coron and I saw none in El Nido

This HUGE lionfish was in the cargo hold of the Morazan Maru; it was one of only two lionfish I saw in Coron and I saw none in El Nido

Oriental sweetlips; there are no stop signs here but the rules of the road seem to give the right of way to the largest vehicle

Oriental sweetlips; there are no stop signs here but the rules of the road seem to give the right of way to the largest vehicle

A dozen sunken Japanese warships at depths between 10 and 40 meters (33 and 131 ft) off Coron Island make the area a premier diving destination; ranked one of ten best scuba sites in the world by Forbes Traveler magazine

A dozen sunken Japanese warships at depths between 10 and 40 meters (33 and 131 ft) off Coron Island make the area a premier diving destination; ranked one of ten best scuba sites in the world by Forbes Traveler magazine

Bubble (aka grape) coral; the bubbles are larger during the day, but smaller during the night, when tentacles reach out to capture food

Bubble (aka grape) coral; the bubbles are larger during the day, but smaller during the night, when tentacles reach out to capture food

Venomous crown of thorns sea star which preys upon hard, or stony, coral polyps; this species can have up to 21 arms and range in size from 10-14 inches

Venomous crown of thorns sea star which preys upon hard, or stony, coral polyps; this species can have up to 21 arms and range in size from 10-14 inches

Anchor (aka hammer) coral; this coral has puffy tubular tentacles with T-shaped tips and is blue-gray to orange in color, sometimes with green on the tentacles

Anchor (aka hammer) coral; this coral has puffy tubular tentacles with T-shaped tips and is blue-gray to orange in color, sometimes with green on the tentacles

Batfish; there were tons of kids in Coron and lots of young people but I saw virtually no old people

Batfish; there were tons of kids in Coron and lots of young people but I saw virtually no old people

This was something I hadn't seen before and I've hunted and hunted and can't figure out what it could be; any experts out there?

This was something I hadn't seen before and I've hunted and hunted and can't figure out what it could be; any experts out there?

Nudibranch; they must not have a government entity here like OSHA as the bangkas were full of hazards for both workers and guests

Nudibranch; they must not have a government entity here like OSHA as the bangkas were full of hazards for both workers and guests

The shore around Coron was full of ramshackle houses on stilts which lacked running water and, usually, electricity; I wondered where the local Filipinos I encountered lived

The shore around Coron was full of ramshackle houses on stilts which lacked running water and, usually, electricity; I wondered where the local Filipinos I encountered lived

Bird's nest coral; I struggled to find food in Coron since there are no supermarkets, just small shops that sell a few vegetables, beans, etc; they're missing the joys and convenience of processed foods

Bird's nest coral; I struggled to find food in Coron since there are no supermarkets, just small shops that sell a few vegetables, beans, etc; they're missing the joys and convenience of processed foods

Morazan Maru was an English passenger cargo vessel that was captured by the Japanese Imperial Navy and then used for war purposes

Morazan Maru was an English passenger cargo vessel that was captured by the Japanese Imperial Navy and then used for war purposes

Columnar cup (or daisy) coral; I should have taken classes in marine biology in college so I would better know what I was seeing underwater

Columnar cup (or daisy) coral; I should have taken classes in marine biology in college so I would better know what I was seeing underwater

Moorish idol; there were tons of small sidewalk shops but they all featured the same merchandise like sodas, candy and chips

Moorish idol; there were tons of small sidewalk shops but they all featured the same merchandise like sodas, candy and chips

Lobophyllia serratus is one of 10 endangered coral species in the Philippines; there are more than 500 coral species in the Philippines alone!

Lobophyllia serratus is one of 10 endangered coral species in the Philippines; there are more than 500 coral species in the Philippines alone!

Anchor coral; this interesting species is threatened due to overharvesting for the aquarium trade and degradation or destruction of its habitat

Anchor coral; this interesting species is threatened due to overharvesting for the aquarium trade and degradation or destruction of its habitat

Pipefishes, like their seahorse relatives, leave most of the parenting duties to the male, which provides all of the postzygotic care for its offspring, supplying them with nutrients and oxygen through a placenta-like connection

Pipefishes, like their seahorse relatives, leave most of the parenting duties to the male, which provides all of the postzygotic care for its offspring, supplying them with nutrients and oxygen through a placenta-like connection

Chocolate chip sea stars possess rows of spines or "horns," black conical points arranged in a single row, radially on the dorsal side; these dark protrusions are used to scare away possible predators, by looking frightening or dangerous

Chocolate chip sea stars possess rows of spines or "horns," black conical points arranged in a single row, radially on the dorsal side; these dark protrusions are used to scare away possible predators, by looking frightening or dangerous

Wire (aka whip) coral on Malpadon Reef; these corals are part of the reefs in the Indian and Pacific oceans, at depths greater than 50 meters (160 ft)

Wire (aka whip) coral on Malpadon Reef; these corals are part of the reefs in the Indian and Pacific oceans, at depths greater than 50 meters (160 ft)

Posted by RNRiggins 16:04 Comments (0)

Fantastic Boracay day trip to Ariel's Point

Conde Nast Traveler has rated Boracay the best island in the world; Boracay lies 2 km off the coast of the much larger Panay Island in the Western Visayas region

Conde Nast Traveler has rated Boracay the best island in the world; Boracay lies 2 km off the coast of the much larger Panay Island in the Western Visayas region

Oh so cute!; I didn't even realize that Ariel's Point had monkeys until we were leaving since they hung out near the food and I didn't

Oh so cute!; I didn't even realize that Ariel's Point had monkeys until we were leaving since they hung out near the food and I didn't

Ariel's Point features 3 diving boards from 3m to 15m high; I didn't care about jumping so I went for a long snorkel along the base of the cliffs

Ariel's Point features 3 diving boards from 3m to 15m high; I didn't care about jumping so I went for a long snorkel along the base of the cliffs

Puka shells are very popular here; this gorgeous shell was still occupied and I warned the critter that he needs to be careful to avoid becoming someone's necklace

Puka shells are very popular here; this gorgeous shell was still occupied and I warned the critter that he needs to be careful to avoid becoming someone's necklace

Snowflake Moray Eel; Ariel's Point had just 36 guests when I was there but I don't know if they limit attendance to just one bangka daily

Snowflake Moray Eel; Ariel's Point had just 36 guests when I was there but I don't know if they limit attendance to just one bangka daily

Juvenile red coris wrasse; I'd never seen one of these before; adults look completely different with a dark orange-brown/blue body with blue dots near their yellow tail

Juvenile red coris wrasse; I'd never seen one of these before; adults look completely different with a dark orange-brown/blue body with blue dots near their yellow tail

There were often many more fish hanging around the wall drop-off than in the shallows; the fish enjoy staying where its hard for me to photograph them

There were often many more fish hanging around the wall drop-off than in the shallows; the fish enjoy staying where its hard for me to photograph them

Clouded Moral Eel; the excursion to Ariel's Point was about $50 but infinitely better than the ubiquitous island hopping tours

Clouded Moral Eel; the excursion to Ariel's Point was about $50 but infinitely better than the ubiquitous island hopping tours

Christmas wrasse; the trikes on the island are being phased out for electric golf carts/Cushmans

Christmas wrasse; the trikes on the island are being phased out for electric golf carts/Cushmans

There were literally 1000s of these blue sea stars around Ariel's Point; some were very small and crammed in holes while others were huge and out in the open

There were literally 1000s of these blue sea stars around Ariel's Point; some were very small and crammed in holes while others were huge and out in the open

Brain coral; the excursion often sells out so I bought my ticket online ahead of time; the hardest part was finding the meeting point to join the group

Brain coral; the excursion often sells out so I bought my ticket online ahead of time; the hardest part was finding the meeting point to join the group

It was typical to see 20  people parasailing at any given time; Boracay is trying to remake itself as more of a green destination with the dozens of wind turbines on Panay as a start

It was typical to see 20+ people parasailing at any given time; Boracay is trying to remake itself as more of a green destination with the dozens of wind turbines on Panay as a start

This looked like a type of coral and was more than a foot across but I can't figure out what it could be;  the vibrant lime green color really made it stand out

This looked like a type of coral and was more than a foot across but I can't figure out what it could be; the vibrant lime green color really made it stand out

Boxfish hiding in barrel sponge; visitors to Boracay skew younger as it seems to be a big party island among Asian millennials

Boxfish hiding in barrel sponge; visitors to Boracay skew younger as it seems to be a big party island among Asian millennials

Black-banded sea krait; the boat ride from Boracay to Ariel's Point was about 40 minutes; there were plenty of games (including Jenga) at Ariel's Point that were quite popular

Black-banded sea krait; the boat ride from Boracay to Ariel's Point was about 40 minutes; there were plenty of games (including Jenga) at Ariel's Point that were quite popular

In April 2018 the Philippine Government decreed a 6-month closure of the island (for tourists) to undertake major renovation works, especially of the sewage system, which had become obsolete and insufficient

In April 2018 the Philippine Government decreed a 6-month closure of the island (for tourists) to undertake major renovation works, especially of the sewage system, which had become obsolete and insufficient

I just loved this little cabin built on a small rock/island along the Panay coast; granted it doesn't have its own beach but there are miles of sand just a few steps away

I just loved this little cabin built on a small rock/island along the Panay coast; granted it doesn't have its own beach but there are miles of sand just a few steps away

Shoal of squid; the trip to Ariel's Point featured unlimited drinks and the Korean kids took full advantage with rum chugging contests (several of the girls were passed out before we even started back to Boracay)

Shoal of squid; the trip to Ariel's Point featured unlimited drinks and the Korean kids took full advantage with rum chugging contests (several of the girls were passed out before we even started back to Boracay)

Mixed marriage; does everyone else get lots of spam from Silver Singles?

Mixed marriage; does everyone else get lots of spam from Silver Singles?

Maze brain coral; there are strict regulations on Boracay beaches - no smoking, no pets, no hawkers, no loud music, etc.- that are strictly enforced

Maze brain coral; there are strict regulations on Boracay beaches - no smoking, no pets, no hawkers, no loud music, etc.- that are strictly enforced

Clown triggerfish; my hotel in Boracay had great wifi which was such an improvement over the non-existent/dial-up wifi elsewhere in the country

Clown triggerfish; my hotel in Boracay had great wifi which was such an improvement over the non-existent/dial-up wifi elsewhere in the country

Lined surgeonfish; there are many 7-11s on Boracay (some even with Big Gulps) but they tend to be quite small with very limited selections

Lined surgeonfish; there are many 7-11s on Boracay (some even with Big Gulps) but they tend to be quite small with very limited selections

Pink linkia sea star; the vast majority of the linkia sea stars were blue but every now and then I'd see a pink one

Pink linkia sea star; the vast majority of the linkia sea stars were blue but every now and then I'd see a pink one

Posted by RNRiggins 08:48 Comments (0)

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