Thresher Shark Divers is the first shop we came across, had the best dive rates and best of all had a restaurant/bar on top. Perfect. We sign up for an early morning shark spotting dive and grab dinner and a couple of beers then head to bed early for our 5:30am dive.July 31: Arrive in Cebu airport and are promptly picked up by our driver Buddy. The ride up Cebu takes around two and a half hours and then there's a half hour banca ride from the top of Cebu to tiny Malapascua island. Our hotel Blue Corals looks nice at the end of the beach so we check in, drop our bags and head out to find a beer and a dive shop.
Turns out there's an outdoor night club directly next to the hotel with unavoidable pumping loud music. The bass is so heavy that earplugs do nothing. The speaker stack in pretty much outside our window and it about 7ft high. On top of that, Pete finds biting ants in our bed but we have another queen bed to move to in the room. I get 3 hours of sleep that night. There's no one at the front desk after 10pm if we wanted to move rooms so we cant. Our early night turns out to be a nightmare. I vow to check out in the morning after the dive.
August 1: Our early dive turns out to be amazing. Joseph and I are so tired as we didn't get much sleep - Pete somehow managed to sleep through the shit dance music. But we wake right up when we hit the water. The dive consists of dropping to about 27 metres and waiting for the sharks to come. About 15 minutes in we're rewarded with a big thresher sharks circling around a cleaning station right in front of us. He hangs around for a few minutes for us to watch so we think the dive is a huge success! After about 25 minutes Joseph has to surface (he's on air and we're on Nitrox) and we get a few more minutes. And then the most amazing thing happens: a huge manta ray approaches us and swims right over top of us just a few metres away! It's like 2 dives in one: shark and manta.
After the dive we sort our room situation out...we check out of Blue Corals and in to Cocobanas. It's a much nicer room, oceanfront with a veranda, a/c, a fridge and tv.
We do more dives including a night dive where Joseph spots a group of 3-4 mandarin fish. They are tiny and gorgeous. Dinner is at the hotel next door - Sunsplash has a chillout oceanside lounge with really nice food.
August 2: We're signed up for 4 dives today. No sharks or mantas on the early morning dive this time which makes us realise how lucky we were yesterday. I sit out the 10am dive - the boys said it was a good macro dive but I decided to chill out instead. We all did the 2pm dive which is a manta spotting dive and it blew us away...we basically dropped down on two huge mantas as we got in the water. They swam right underneath us as we were descending from the boat. Amazing!! We settled down at 27m again and the mantas circled around a few more times. Pete got some great shots. We are so lucky!
I decided to skip the night dive as we had just done one the night before. When Pete and Joseph came back from the night dive, Pete complained of being really cold which isn't like him. He had a really long hot shower to feel better and we went to dinner. We were signed up for a 3-dive day trip the next day so had an early night.
August 3: 8am...Pete is still feeling really cold and fluey so I go to the dive shop and cancel our day trip. Good thing we have a decent hotel room as we wind up hanging out, watching some TV and reading on the veranda. He spends the day in bed and doesn't even make it out to dinner. Joseph and I go to Angelinas pizza which is really good.
August 4: Pete is still feeling sick. Another day of TV, reading and hanging out.
August 5: Pete still sick but claims to be feeling a bit better. He signs up for 2 dives with Joseph but when the times comes he just doesn't have the energy. He's getting frustrated by being fluey and headachy and not able to do anthing. But Joseph lucks out again and spots another thresher on one of his dives. I spend a while online at an Internet terminal in the Blue Corals.
August 6: Pete wakes up with a rash. This is not good. We had expected his flu to pass bit he seems to be getting worse. We are planning on leaving the next morning anyway and decide to rake him straight to hospital.
August 7: The weather has been a bit stormy during the week so our morning banca ride back to Cebu island is slow and very wavy. The car ride to Cebu city goes quickly and we check into a hotel 3 blocks from the hospital, drop our bags and head to the ER. They take Petes blood and two hours later tell us he has Dengue fever. He has the classic symptoms: first few days of fluey feeling, headache and the rash that signifies the worst of it. Luckily he doesn't have joint pain which can happen. Pete's blood platelet count is 107. (Normal is 140-400) He is admitted and spends the next few days in Cebu Doctors University Hospital to be monitored. Dengue goes away on it's own if there are no complications but they need to watch his recovery. He has a 'luxury' suite which is a private room with a 32" tv, a couple of couches for us to hang out on.
August 8-11: Pete's platelet count drops to 90 the day after being admitted to hospital but climbs on the days after.
For Pete, his days were filled with crappy hospital meals, constantly being checked for blood tests etc and a lot of tv watching boredom. And our visits of course.
For Joseph and myself, a lot of the days were spent being bored in Petes hospital room watching tv with him (crap movies on HBO and a lot of CSI). Once in a while I'd go on a trip to a shopping centre to kill time but they're not great. I had a really good facial for 400 pesos (￡6) across the street from the hospital. I got to know the area and got some laundry done, bought some snacks for the boys, found the fast food places so Joseph could fill up. I coloured my hair and Joseph's. I also spent a fair bit of time on the phone to the insurance company in the UK. Luckily there was free wifi in the hotel and the hospital so I could skype and everyone could facebook.
Cebu is the Philippines second biggest city. On the whole, it's fairly grimy but feels generally safe. Our hotel (the regally named Dynasty Tourist Inn) was basic, cheap and most importantly near the hospital.
On the 10th, we get good news that Pete can have his IV out and be released the next day. The insurance company can't believe that the whole 5 day hospital visit only comes to 30,000 pesos = about ￡420.
By the 11th when he's released his platelets are back up to 127 and he's back into the world. We went to the Ayala mall so he could have a decent lunch, then we watched Salt at the movies and had a beer at TGI Fridays. He's still a bit tired but is OK. We're going to continue the holiday. We'd considered cutting the trip short and heading straight to Sydney.