We spent the last few days of our trip in a small, very touristy village on the northern coast of the island of Mindoro. It's only 3 hours from Manila so it's a popular destination. There are 2 main activities that go on here for the traveler. The first is diving. There are loads of dive shops. In fact most buildings along the shore are dive shops. The second is renting girls. It took me awhile to fully understand what was going on but with some help from some locals at the dive shop we hung out at we finally began to understand the underworld of this village. White men, most European, come here, go to the disco, pick out the girl they want, then pay her to hang out with them for 24 hour periods or more. I had the hardest time with this. The men grossed me out so bad! And these poor women! They had to hang out with them, and pretend to like them! We were told that most of the women do not come from the area, but were hired from other places as "waitresses" but upon arrival where forced to do this. There are pimps involved, but I guess after awhile the girls start to embrace their new life because they begin to develop attitudes. I sometimes got dirty looks because I was with a white man. I think they thought I was somehow taking a job from them. They also seemed quite confident. They strut around like they own the place. It was really really bizarre. Maybe I am naive, but I just don't get how any man with any sort of respect for themselves or for women could come here and BUY companionship. Ok, I'll get off my soap box and tell you what we did here...
I came to the island with a cold so I had to wait a couple of days to dive, but Jeff got right in the water. He had a great time and saw lots of cool little critters. When I finally felt my congestion subside we decided to take another class. Nitrox. We really need to have this class if we ever want to work in diving so we decided to do it. All it is is reading a 30 page book and taking an easy test. Nitrox is a blend of gas that has more oxygen than the normal air we breath. The basic benefit is being able to dive longer because your body doesn't absorb so much Nitrogen (which is bad if you stay down too long). I am a bit of an air sucker so it didn't really benefit me at all (I run out of air before I even get to stay down longer than usual), but I now am certified to use it whenever I want to. We did 2 dives on it and saw loads of really cool things. I finally saw an Octopus! And lots of really big fish called sweet lips. We loved the dive shop we dove with. They are locally owned with all Filipino employees and very very nice. One night we stayed and hung out there just talking with them til 1:30 in the morning (way past my bedtime)-this is when i learned so much about the ladies of the night. We met some lovely travelers there. A couple from Vancouver who are Filipino, but their families moved in their teen years for a better life. They were full of helpful information and so nice to have around in a village full of gross old white men.
We had fun just walking around through the village. Eating was a bit of a chore because it was so expensive in most places. Even for U.S. standards. We ended up eating 3 out of the 5 nights there at the same restaurant. It's owned and ran by a local family. It's set back off the main alley way so they post one of their sons out to get people to come in.
It worked on us one night and we loved it. They are so nice and the mom was a really good cook. Our last day one of the sons gave us the recipes for our favorite dishes. For breakfast we usually went to the same spot, a little bakery with croissants and muffins. Lunch was a little less predictable, we just got something cheap somewhere. Jeff loved the BBQ pork from the street vendors. They put really small slices of pork on a stick and grilled them, then dipped it in a vinegar sauce. He loved it. I wasn't as impressed so I shared mine with a skinny girl dog I found.
Our last day we decided to go inland a bit and explore. We wanted to rent a motor bike so we walked down the shore. It doesn't take long to be hassled about just about anything you could want so we waited only 3 minutes and found a guy who wanted to rent us a motorbike. Another man we had met the first day and had helped us on occasion confirmed that the guy was trustworthy so we went with him to his shop. We got on a bike and started down the road. At our very first turn Jeff managed to not turn and ran us into a wall/gate. I was a bit mad and refused to get back on the bike. Jeff thought it was funny.
I got one of the 20 guys who ran to "help" us after the crash to drive it back to the shop with Jeff on the back. I walked. Luckily the guy didn't get mad and didn't charge for the scratches. He offered to take us around and we agreed. We piled 3 deep on a bike and headed to some waterfalls. The falls were beautiful! We swam in the cold water at the base of them for a bit. Our driver, Robin, took some pictures for us. He turned out to be a very good tour guide.
Our next stop was white beach. But on the way we were held up by road construction. They were digging out the side of the hill next to the road and all the big rocks were blocking the road! I was worried we would be stuck there all day but I guess they know what they're doing because within a half hour they excavated lots, and were able to clear the road for us to pass.
White Beach is a big white beach, as you probably guessed. Its another tourist spot but geared more toward Filipino tourists. We were hounded immediately by touts. I was pressured into buying 2 bracelets. Neither of which i liked all that much, my defenses just get weak sometimes and I just needed a break. Sometime the only way to get them to leave you alone is to buy from them. Jeff swam a bit while I laid on the beach. We headed back after awhile. We were leaving the next day and needed to pack. It was an adventure of a day and I was ready to eat supper and go to bed.
The next day we took a ferry, then a bus,then a taxi, then the metro, then a tricycle, then another taxi to the airport. We were headed to Guangzhou China for one day before heading home.