Everything in Asia, it seems, runs to own on its own time. The bus that is scheduled for an hour takes 3, your flight that is meant to leave at 1 is delayed by 4 hours, your interview gets rescheduled twice… it’s just a fact of life. Unfortunately, we had to experience the delayed flight option in the world’s worst airport: Manila’s domestic airport. You know that you’re going to be in a pretty second-class airport when you realize you made it through security with full-size aerosols in your carry-on, but it isn’t until you’re stuck there for 5 hours that you truly appreciate the airports you have previously experienced. With no wi-fi, no plugs for laptops, and the most limited food selection known to man, your spirits are dampened with each unintelligible intercom announcement about your delayed flight. Did she just say the flight is re-scheduled for 5 or we shouldn’t expect to get out of this alive?
Eventually, our plane boarded and departed, and from there we got a bus, then a boat. However, all the headache was worth it when we caught our first glimpse of Boracay’s legendary White Beach. Even on a slightly clouded over day, the sand is still a clean white and the water still a clear, crystalline blue. White Beach is the more touristy side of Boracay, while Bulabog on the other side is more popular with kite surfers and locals. The main tourists that frequent the island are from China, Korea or Russia, and there are many restaurants, goods and bars tailored to their specific needs. I would have never guessed how big of a part I would take in that until I was employed (on my first day, thank you very much) at a Chinese dive shop.
Please allow me to preface the following with this one fact: I am quite possibly the least-racist person in the world. If you were to ask anyone if they have ever heard me being racist, they would be hard pressed to think of an occasion. Therefore, I went into this new job with excitement and little trepidation, even with the fact I would be using a translator for the majority of my courses.
Now, I love diving, and I love teaching diving, but the minute you back roll off of a small boat into 23 degree water and spend the entire dive trying to keep your students from destroying everything on the dive site, it starts to hurt your heart a little bit. Not being able to communicate directly with my students to explain to them the importance of coral preservation and proper buoyancy was hard enough, but when you have one who floats near the surface the entire dive, while one is kicking and hitting every bit of coral they can see and one who disappears mid-dive in bad visibility, your levels of frustration hit previously unknown highs. It takes every bit of self-restraint not to try to explain to them just how very ridiculous everything about their underwater behaviour is, but knowing they will understand so few words, there is just no point.
I spent my days teaching unwitting Chinese tourists how to dive, with the occasional day off spent on the perfect, white beach and swimming in the (thankfully much warmer) waters. Nights were spent experiencing the nightlife and cuisine Boracay had to offer, with each purple, pink and gold sunset more beautiful than the last. Eventually, we decided that while we had enjoyed our extremely long vacation, it was time to return to our favourite home: Dublin, Ireland.