Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text:
First step of my Philippine trip: the southern tip of Leyte Island. For dives in Sogod Bay, in the hope of crossing the road of a whale shark…
The few tourists in the area are there for that too. Sogod Bay is known for being frequented by these nice giants of the seas.
Diving in Sogod Bay
I dream to meet again this huge shark (that I saw once in Thailand, in 2006). It is the largest fish in the world (it can exceed 10 meters, I refer you on Wikipedia) and it is totally harmless to humans (it has no teeth and feeds on plankton).
But for the moment, nothing! I have been diving in Sogod Bay for three days already, without having seen the shadow of a whale shark's tail. At the same time, it is not very serious. The coral is superb here, remarkably preserved. And the tropical underwater fauna abounds.
I am enjoying new nudibranchs (sea slugs), toadfish (or frogs) and other critters, including a very nice "striped knit" snake. We even found today a tiny pink seahorse-pygmy.
There are not many divers on the sites. Only two-three resorts operate in the area. And this part of the island, away from the tourist circuits, is not so easy to reach. The ferry schedules from Cebu, the central island of the Visayas, where there is the airport, are more than random.
Mine, the 6pm Cebu-Bato ferry that I thought I would take when I got off the plane, was conveniently replaced by another one... at 1:30pm. So I missed it. Bad luck. No boat to Bato...
I settled for the 9pm flight, with bunks on the deck for the cheapest tickets. But I travelled with the rich, in a tiny cabin called First Class, with four berths, TV (!) and air conditioning like a fridge. Arrival in Bato at... 4am!
Fortunately, I was able to call the Sogod Bay Scuba Resort (SBSR) with whom I had contacted by e-mail before the departure, and they sent a guy to pick me up before dawn by car at the exit of the boat. Then, about an hour drive from Bato to Lungsodaan, a tiny town at the crossroads of two roads, belonging to the municipality of Padre Burgos, where the resort is located.
Dead Coral Beach and Sunday Mass
In this season, the wind blows hard every day on Sogod Bay. On the beach of dead corals, big sound waves crash non-stop and rock my sleep.
My room is facing the sea, at a nice lady who welcomes tourists for the resort when they are full, just next door. I like being there as much. My terrace is more intimate than the side-by-side rooms at SBSR.
On my right, I discern in the mist the blue shadow of Limasawathe island where Magellan landed. It was there that the very first Spanish mass was celebrated in the Philippines, in 1521... First step of the Christianization of the country.
I live right across the street from a chapel, which I didn't notice at the time when I arrived at dawn on Sunday morning. I collapsed on my bed, exhausted, and a few hours later, joyful singing woke me up. It was Sunday mass. I went to see.
In front of the chapel, a big blackboard, with "Welcome visitors 2008" written on it. Inside, karaoke atmosphere, with a guy at the microphone to make the faithful sing on a catchy tune, everybody standing up and arms raised, with lyrics to follow written in the background on a white board.
Those in the back rows turned around with smiles and nods to watch me approach the door. A small gentleman came to shake my hand and offer me entry... But I was hungry. I didn't stay. I waved to everyone like the Queen of England, and headed back to the resort for breakfast.