The trip was called “Expedition” because only the destination was fixed. The exact route was determined relatively spontaneously, depending on the wind and currents. There are several options for accommodation in the archipelago. In some villages there are small huts for tourists as well as on some lonely islands.
The banka was bigger than the one we had seen before. It had two decks because there was a large storage space and a galley on board. Jack’s family, who keep enjoying their son’s tours, and a few other Europeans and Australians also went with us. It strikes us again and again that only Westerners appreciate uncomfortable adventurous journeys.
The crew consisted of course without exception of Filippinos, who came from the islands where we docked. The following days were pretty relaxed for an expedition. We had snorkeling equipment ready to hand on deck, moored at lonely islands and had an extremely good cook who conjured up the most wonderful snacks and dishes from fish and fruits, for example food made from young coconut, fresh blue or yellowfin tuna, jackfish, banana heart, Papaya, mango and seaweed salad, with ginger tea. And Bhmba was just seventeen years old.
Just like Rey, the cabin boy who made everyone laugh easily. Romy, the leader of the trip, was of a more sedate age.
The equipment also included three kayaks. If you felt like paddling on the lake, you could do that. Otherwise the boats were used to bring provisions ashore. Otherwise you just swam because the water was always warm. In general, we were constantly in the water, sun and wind dried you off immediately.
Our first stop wasn’t far from Coron. An offshore volcanic island had a lake full of crystal clear brackish water, i.e. mixed fresh and salt water. The walls of the lake were very steep, so that while snorkeling you had the feeling of flying over an abyss to the Abyss. The lake was named because of a legendary barracuda, but it has been sighted as often and reliably as Nessie. Around the island there were incredibly beautiful corals, in front of which an abyss also stretched. Large fans and sponges, sea urchins, octopuses, sea cucumbers, moray eels, rays, sea snakes and many colorful fish populated the coral world. But we should be careful of stone fish and stingrays. Unfortunately there were also a lot of jellyfish, but they turned out to be harmless. More painful, on the other hand, was the plankton, which I had never thought possible. The plankton here contained many tiny jellyfish, the microscopic nettles of which made nasty pustules on the skin.
We spent the first night on a small island on which there was a small village. We got a little canopy. The tiny construction couldn’t be called better. Traditionally we all drank the “Jungle Juice” together at sunset, a mixture of the Filipino Tanduay Rum, fresh pineapple juice and calamansis. The latter are tiny limes that are used a lot here.
There wasn’t much light in the night. One could observe the greatest starry sky imaginable and lose oneself in the density of the Milky Way.