How to drive your own car from Cebu City to Liquid Dumaguete by Steve White (previous guest)
Getting to Liquid is very easy for car owners/renters. Here are directions starting from the Cebu City SM mall. If you are starting elsewhere in the city, ask a local how to get to SM, because SM is almost exactly on top of the road you want to begin on.
Here’s the very short version, if you are already familiar with Cebu or if you have a good map:
1. From SM, head south on Sergio Osmena Blvd onto the South Coastal Road.
2. At the end of the Cebu South Coastal Road, turn left onto Cebu South road (the national highway).
3. Drive approximately 130-135 kilometers south to Maayo Shipping and take a boat to Dumaguete
4. When the ferry lands, turn left, go through Dumaguete to Dauin. Just past kilometer marker 12 look for the Liquid sign on the left. Turn left and follow the dirt road to Liquid.
And now the detailed version for folks who are less familiar with the area:
From SM, you want to turn right onto the highway that runs along the coast. Depending on where you are parked, you might need to drive around the SM parking lots until you find yourself facing the ocean (the port where there are many shipping containers). Once you are facing the ocean, go up to the main road and turn right. At SM, this road is called “Sergio Osmena Blvd”.
Head south on that road. It will change names to Cebu South Coastal Rd. Keep going south.
A few kilometers south of SM the road will split. Keep left. You want to follow the signs for the SUBWAY. The other option to the right is “City Center” (but don’t go there). The subway will take you underground for a short stretch and then put you on the coastal road.
The Cebu South Coastal Road will eventually end at a “T” intersection with a stoplight on Cebu South Road. Turn left on Cebu South Road (the National Highway) and head south.
Follow that road south for about 30-35 km until you get to the city of Carcar. In the center of Carcar there is a traffic circle / roundabout. You want to reset your odometer here. Exit on the south side of the roundabout (the sign says it is heading towards Bato). If you enter the roundabout at “six oclock” you will exit at “twelve oclock”. Just keep going south on the main road.
From the Carcar traffic circle you will drive 98 kilometers to the Maayo Shipping boat dock. Just stay on the main road and keep heading south. You will pass through Sibonga, Argao, Dalaguete, Alcoy, and Boljoon. After that is Oslob and Santander. Inside the municipality of Santander you will pass through several small towns before you get to the dock. The last one is called Talisay. You will drive through Talisay and out the other side, and pass a large sign that says something like “you are now leaving Talisay, thanks for visiting”. Just past that you will find the Maayo Shipping dock on the left. Look for the very prominent Maayo Shipping signs. Turn left into the parking lot and queue for the next boat.
Once you get to Tampi (where the boat lands on Negros Island) turn left out of the Maayo parking lot and head south towards Dumaguete. Go all the way through Dumaguete and head towards the next town, Dauin. You will see concrete kilometer markers on the right side of the road. Just past kilometer marker 12 you should see the Liquid sign on the left. Turn left and follow the dirt road until you get to Liquid.
Then relax and enjoy your stay!
Well, well, well, look what we’ve got here. You just can’t get enough can you! For shame. I, on the other hand, am open with my voyeuristic love for too much never being enough. Today is another glorious day on the island of Negros in the Philippines. Some of my friends still think I am in Malaysia or even Indonesia. Just to help everyone out, I am training to be a DiveMaster. It’s like being in the jungle but it’s underwater.
If I’m honest there are many parallels between my life as a Bearded JungleMan and my current life as a Bearded DiveHero (my words not anyone else’s). I wake up every morning earlyish, make sure that my beard and hair look good, they do. Do I wear a vest today? What colour shorts? Am I going to be diving or swimming in an hour or two? All tricky things to consider. It can get chilly out here. It dropped below 27oC the other day. Next decision is footwear – flip-flops not jungle boots – do I wear my cheap workhorse pair or the fancier pair that I “save for best?” I still give a respectful nod to my boots which faithfully stand guard outside the front door being aired for the rest of their life. I eat my apple and then head to the office. Admittedly I had no choice of clothes to choose from or any such luxury as to care about the weather OR the chance to eat apples or have a shower or drinkable water OR a bed to ponder such existential conundrums in the jungle but I still hold firm that my current life is still similar to my recent incarnation.
So, I’ve made it out of bed, had a HOT shower, brushed my teeth taken my vitamin supplements and walked all the way to the lodge where I am greeted by friendly, happy faces – both staff Ann or Lovely (that’s her ACTUAL name) and guests – usually checking emails, trying to book flights or looking at their next destinations. Breakfast ranges from a bowl of good old fashioned Kellogg’s cornflakes with milk to The Whole Shebang (egg, bacon, grilled tomato, toast, fruit salad and a glass of tang). The first dive leaves approximately 8:30 depending on where you are going and how many dives are taking place that day.
I leave my key with Nez who runs the dive shop whilst being possibly the sweetest, kindest and smiliest girl IN THE WORLD. Let’s pretend we are going to Apo Island which is one of the world’s best dive sites. Ginalyn would have packed our lunch of rice and fish or a sandwich on homemade bread and we would all head down to the Putt-Putt – the beach launch boat – that takes us to Sundancer. Once we are in the vicinity of the water we are placed safely in the hands of Captain Vince, Roy ‘the tank’, Julius and sometimes Alan who is tankish in build, but fridge-like in stature. Between these guys you are both safe and CONSTANTLY amused/confused. As Sundancer ploughs through any waves that may exists, the divers chatter excitedly about the various flamboyant or ghost or flamboyant ghost species of fish they might see or perhaps they glaze poetically out to sea.
Once we have reached our dive site and Vince has deciphered a multitude of conflicting hand signals given by Julius and Alfred (Roy just sits quietly atop the prow of the boat waiting to hook the mooring line). Alfred – Liquid’s current DiveMaster will give us the briefing which I would be willing to bet mentions a “sandy sloop” (slope). Alfred likes sandy sloops. We will dive. Everyone has their own ways of enjoying their dives. For example, I like to be upside down or hovering while hardly breathing, Dan likes to spot fish and take photos where possible, Alfred plays on the sandy sloops somehow finding things that barely exist, yet when we re-surface everyone bubbles with the same enthusiasm. I love that. There is also a touch of international and slightly indecipherable banter. I love that as well.
We will return TRIUMPHANTLY back to the resort and fill Keith in with all the fish we have seen (he is not very interested). Once all equipment is rinsed and humans de-salinated in my favourite shower I head to the lodge/bar/restaurant/chill out area where San Miguel Light is served by the crate load.
Just as a heads-up to my weight conscious friends, San Miguel Light is not light on alcohol but calories, just 150kcal per bottle. AMAZING. Couple that with happy hour and you have the makings of (another) wonderful evening at Liquid Dumaguete. It is around this time that I’ll have my daily conflab with Keith. This is one of my favourite parts of the day during which I am assured all is well with Ian down at the Drill Shack – a bar along the beach from us owned and run by Ian a former oil driller. How can this joyous day get any better I hear you ask? I wondered the same thing when I first arrived. It does not include narcotics, hookers or guns. Ricky and Peddy, the chef and his assistant respectively, conjure up different, tasty and filling meals for lunch and dinner EVERY DAY. I have not eaten the same thing twice yet. One of my personal favorite parts about dinner is that we eat as a big family. All round one table. All chattering about everything from fish seen that day to Blackadder. Who could be homesick with a surrogate family like this?
Slowly but surely people head to bed or hang out and watch whatever movie is playing that night. I usually retire around nine sometimes via the beach where I sit, watch the (shooting) stars and listen to some music using my Wild Spice Pingles can amplifier. You think this is some crazy novelty electronic product however you would be more wrong than banana in Spaghetti Bolognese. If you have an electronic device with a small tinny speaker, merely put it speaker end down into a pringles can and you have a Bose sound system. If in the jungle use a LARGE tin of tuna (after you have burnt the residual food and moisture out of it… and let it cool). Try it. Unless you have an iPod dock. That probably works better.
As usual my friends, my tan is getting darker and I am awaiting your visit with excitement. Make it happen people. This place has to be seen, lived and breathed to be believed.
Week two has been and gone. Time appears to be accelerating. There must be a few holes in the space/time continuum AND the flux capacitor is on the blink. THIS could get messy. If I start writing about future events using the past tense then contact Marty McFly, the Time Bandits and Dr Who…
I have started writing this whilst atop my perch as barkeep for the evening. For those of you who have known me a little while, will know that this can go one of a few ways: either EVERYONE will get hammered or just I will get hammered. I will attempt to keep this civil… Turns out, I was remarkably sober for most of the evening and Dan passed his snorkel test = a little-lot bit tipsy. Check out the photos on Facebook. I especially like the before and after.
I have been learning much from Yosha – Ukrainian filmmaker and zen-like diving instructor extraordinaire. We discuss the finer points of breathing and buoyancy on a regular basis. Gio, our resident Frenchman and “booteure” enthusiast has arrived. Dan is now DiveMaster Dan and Saniya and I are slowly slowly becoming better and better, happier and happier divers.
With regard to diving progress, I am now an ADVANCED diver with a few more dives under my belt. I will reiterate my closing words for my last missive – breath slow and take it easy. THIS is something I gently whisper to myself during most of my times underwater. I am fairly sure, and forgive my lack of jargon, there is a LOT but I think I might be becoming a dive-hippy type. I cannot stress enough how magical the underwater world is. I might not yet know all the varieties of nudibranchs or the difference between an ornate and a ghost pipefish (yet) so I spend most of my time underwater playing whilst concentrating on breathing air NOT water.
Playing mainly involves trying to see how little air I can use over the period of a dive. This basically translates to varying breathing between shallow but slightly faster cycles or SLLLOOOOWWWW deep breaths. Something I had not considered in the real world was how breathing or a breath affects you while underwater. Turns out if you breath IN you float more and if you breath out you sink. (ish).
Tatiana and Slav took this photo of me while diving the wall at Kanu Panan. I love it. More games. Wondering around on my back although I prefer to hover upside down – feet up head down – often imagining I am a cameraman for the BBC natural department. It might be a little bit vain but I am very curious what I look like underwater. I am not know for being graceful so maybe, just maybe I am a tiny bit elegant underwater. Hopefully more photos of my underwater exploits to come.
Have you ever pondered how you quantify making it? Gold plated Rolls Royce or mink lined underwear? How about a heated toilet? Somehow my life now has a fully functioning heated toilet… I already had the mink underwear. Lickie D’s (still trying to see if there is a way of shortening Liquid Dumaguete) main water source is a natural, volcanic hot spring so all the water is hot. No, sorry. It is H.O.T. So whenever the need takes you, you sit atop a pre-warmed throne. Does life get much better?
There is also the enigma commonly referred to as Keith or Lolo. This is a gentleman (I use the term loosely) who appears to have lived at least three lifetimes worth of anecdotes. Never short of a word. Always ready with an opinion, rarely without a smile. I have and will continue to look forward to many sundowners while highlighting the world’s problems. We tend to highlight but not fix the problems.
Export quality semi dried mango. This stuff is DEElightful. You can imagine the rest especially if eaten with hot and spicy peanuts.
Having spent the last few months in the jungle and remote rural areas, I have become accustomed to the morning call from the cockerel. I was not mentally prepared for the alarm-cow. I can only imagine that there is a bovine prankster who assumes it is HILARIOUS to come pass my home and MOO very loudly at around 6am. Ok, I admit that I should be awake by then but I DO NOT need a cow to tell me so although I like the quirkiness.
The sun has risen and set 13/14 times since I first arrived here. With every day that passes I feel happier, stronger and more excitable about life. I am surrounded by a brilliantly eclectic group of people and continually engulfed by nature’s beauty both above and below the surface; to be training to make this a profession on top of all that? C’moooon. I am probably one of the luckiest people alive at the moment.
Until the next time people. Remember, upside down is the new right way up!
KAPPOWWWW. I have arrived at Liquid Dumaguete. Not in a fanfare or to a 21 gun salute, but in the only way I know best – sweaty, a little bit tired, massive bag on my shoulder (I had put my rucksack inside a larger dry bag to enhance its capacity) and a HUGE/excited smile on my face.
Hurdle #1 was easily overcome seeing as Mr Liquid Dumaguete aka Tim was at the airport in Dumaguete to pick me up. The best part for me was he had a board with my name on it so as to heighten our likelihood of recognising each other. I have never had that privilege before so things were already looking good and it was irrelevant that I was the only bearded white guy on the flight
I kid you not. I feel like I have landed in paradise. I had the news broken to me that the staff quarters had not been built yet and so I would have to sleep in one of the beach front bungalows. Tough life for some! I am not showing off, but have a look at my view! I genuinely thought that views/houses/situations like this only existed in dreams and holiday brochures. From my personal experience, holiday brochures are as true to life as Lord of the Rings.
Who am I? Why am I invading your screen? How did I end up here? How do I get my hair to look THIS good? All questions I will answer in good time. We, no doubt will become old friends who regale our grandchildren with stories of restraining orders against each other and bar fights due to disagreements on the principles of modern art but for now, here are the basics. My name is Adam WonderBear Detre and I am working at Liquid Dumaguete towards my PADI DiveMaster qualification. So I do have some purpose to my life. I have spent the last four months training, living, and working in the jungles of Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo as part of a working-out-what-I-want-to-do-with-my-life journey’. I am not a fan of the modern use of the word journey. It is horrendously pretentious and horribly faux-liberal. Before this recent incarnation, I worked in a political communications company where I met a good man named Gav. It was a balmy sunny evening in early April, in the pub, after a few drinks that we started talking about my trip and he mentioned how his best mate Zoe was opening a diving resort in the Philippines. I emailed her that night. The rest is history.
Let me paint you a picture. You drive through Dumaguete towards Dauin on the island of Negros along the coastal road. The island is full of life and colour with breathtaking backdrops in every direction. The people are laid back and friendly with smiles being flung about with gay abandon. 20 minutes later and you turn off towards Liquid Dumaguete. To call this turn-off a road would be EXTREMELY generous but fortunately ‘The Lobster’ (the LD dive jeep) is well equipped. The hallowed gates appear and we turn in. BAM. You are hit by serenity, happiness and warmth – emotional and physical. You/I have arrived. I was gently ushered up to the bar/restaurant which is COMPLETELY open with views out towards the ocean. I mentioned the beautiful backdrops but they have NOTHING on the soundtrack to Liquid D (I am still trying to work out how to shorten the name). The ocean is the best piece of nature’s music that I have listened to. There are lovely people bustling around, it is nigh IMPOSSIBLE to carry anything for yourself without one of the many capable and friendly staff taking it off at a gallop to your destination. I’ll stop gushing now. In a nutshell, this place is heavenly. I feel very lucky.
Within a few hours I was in the pool with SCUBA gear on learning my first lessons. Day one, ended as with every other day with everyone eating dinner together. The food is perfect. A nice blend between slightly experimental (see spicy fruit and vegetable salad) and comforting (see breaded freshly caught fish and parsley boiled potatoes). Every day has been highlighted by heading INTO the water – twice at Poblacion and Cars and twice OFF THE BOAT (checkout the picture) at Masaplod North. By the end of day six I had fulfilled all the criteria needed to be certified as an actual real life PADI Open Water Diver. I. FREAKIN’ LOVE IT.
Yesterday I had my first trip to Apo Island. The hallowed Apo Island. This is basically an island completely surrounded by world famous dive sites. I understand why. Three dives of pure unadulterated bliss. The day started with my first deep dive followed by a glorious drift dive from Cogon through Mamsa and on to Kanuan and the day finaléd by a sweet fun dive around the Sanctuary.
It is true luxury when you are able to spend almost 3hours (all together) just concentrating on breathing really slowly in an almost weightless environment with the most captivating visuals drifting by your eyes. I shan’t start to talk the big talk about diving (yet). At the moment, I am very aware of being a complete rookie. BUT, the oneness created by the peace and weightlessness coupled with the necessarily slow breathing is not replicable. I am happy and proud to be the first at the Liquid Dumaguete DiveMaster Academy… except Dan…
I have been here a week and barely tipped the iceberg with the hyperbole that I need to use to truly give a sense of what this place is like. I’ll be posting more photos, blogs and MAYBE a video or two on Liquid Dumaguete’s website and Facebook so if you want to read more ‘like’ their page on facebook and in turn you are reinforcing your love for me.
Until then, breath slow and take it easy,
Just as a bit of a side note. There is ONE song that I thing will forever remind me of this first life changing week. Have a listen to Is Love Enough – Michael Franti & Spearhead feat. Gentlemen.
One of the most common questions we get asked is ‘why the Philippines?’ after all there are hundreds of different countries out there with fantastic diving, good schools and great communities to be a part of. So what was it that made us settle down in this neck of the woods?
The quirkiness of the country is always entertaining and certainly tests your sanity at times. For instance ask a straight forward question such as ‘So should I take the next left to reach the market or the one after that?’ and you will probably get an answer similar to this ‘Yes, no, maybe, sure its ok’ or you will be answered with what can only be described as a slight raising of the eye brows in a non-committal shrug type of way. Now this is by no means a rude gesture, in fact it is the common way to answer ‘yes’ – annoying – maybe. Quirky – definitely. The Philippines proudly boasts to be the only Asian country that’s main language is English. Thereby 99% of the educated population speaks a good level of English. Let’s rephrase this – 99% of the educated population speaks a good level of American English! For those Brits out there, this is not only frustrating but also extremely confusing at times. Ask in a British accent for a bottle of waTer (emphasis on the T sound)) and you will get a perplexed look and a question of ‘bread, sausage, coke?’ ask them again with an American lilt for a bottle of waDer (emphasis on the D sound) and they will smile politely and ask mineral?
The shopping malls are always a treat. As soon as you enter the mall the security/door man holding an alarmingly large gun will bid you welcome and proudly state ‘enjoy …whatever mall it is you happen to be in’ Instantly you will have people stare at you, after all you are the foreigner which still holds a large curiosity value to the locals. Upon entering a shop you will then be surrounded with heavily make-upped sales assistance there to help your every need, or really just get in your way and make you feel as though they are watching your every move waiting for you to slip that t-shirt into your handbag and make a run for it. If you decide to ask them for assistance (warning!) you will be left either totally exhausted or suicidal as it normally takes about 10 attempts to get the point across. This is what happened to me the other day.
After entering the department store and politely refusing help from 5 or 6 sales ladies I found the rack of shorts I was looking for. To my delight they were on sale and would make a perfect uniform for our boat crew. The lone sales lady who had not followed the others and wandered off (I should have suspected something at this point) was smiling politely and asking once again if I needed help. To the amazement of Tim I actually said yes and asked ‘do you have any more of these in stock?’ the poor girl looked scared witless and simply said ‘blue? Purple? Pink?’ Now it was my turn to look confused. ‘Um, no do you have any more of these shorts in stock?’ again she answered ‘skirts? T-shirt?, blue’ Tim is by this time curled up in a heap of laughter and was simply saying over and over again ‘told you not to ask’. As you can no doubt imagine we left the store empty handed completely confused and very ready for a cold SML.
Banking is another interesting thing here. We foolishly attempted to send money overseas the other day. To be informed that it was illegal to do this??? ‘Really’ we said in unison. This is obviously news to us and most of our customers and 1000’s of other successful businesses that have no problem in sending overseas bank transfers on a more or less daily basis. We explained this to the very confused bank teller who simply repeated ‘not possible, next please’. We also tried to acquire a credit card for our business. At first we were informed that this was an easy task and would simply involve filling out an application form. As we started the process we were asked ‘Are you foreigners?’ (Really she could not guess this already) ‘Yes’ we politely replied, to which she replied ‘oh, you can’t get a credit card if you are not Pilipino’! Quirky definitely.
This really is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the quirkiness of the Philippines. So, with all these sanity testing little foibles,
why did we settle here? Simple really we love it. The people are endearing, friendly and probably the happiest nation on the planet. They are happy to help, willing to help and more importantly want to help. They are fantastic with children and willing to accept kids into any situation. The standard of living for a foreigner is very good, the local food is cheap and cheerful the local beer even cheaper and very nice. The level of acceptance to being a foreigner living in ‘their’ country is pretty high. And don’t get me started on the 7000+ plus islands each with their own unique biodiversity, local communities that vary dramatically from island to island, stunning beaches, fantastic world class diving on tropical reefs with good vis and great marine life, mini rainforests, mountain ranges and generally good year round weather.
So when people ask us ‘Why the Philippines?’ we simply say ‘because its home’.