Malapascua is a tiny speck of sand and rock off the northern tip of Cebu, a mere 2.5km long and 1km wide. It's a favourite with divers, known for its cleaning station at Monad Shoal, frequented by Manta Rays and Thresher Sharks. It had long been a definite on my list of places to visit.
I'd arrived in the small town opposite the island too late to get a boat, so myself and a German couple wound up at the Abba Lodge for the night. It was a relief to get off the bus, as the driver had been a lunatic, racing another bus down the country roads in the pitch dark. There had also been a guy on the bus warning me about thieves in the Philippines who was getting on my wick. He'd said they'd steal my watch. "I don't wear one" I said (it was fastened around my ankle at the time). "Ah, you hide it in your bag?" he asked. "No, I don't wear one". He continued "Ah...is in a secret place?" What's with all the questions? Thankfully he got off before I did.
The next morning, we were up early for the first boat. I'd been told to expect all the usual blags, such as the boat not leaving until full, but we could get a private boat for 300 pesos each (the ferry costs 50 pesos). A local likely lad started trying it on. 300 each for the three of us and we leave right now? I just started laughing and didn't even look at him. He wandered off, and I whispered to Steen that we'd wait for 150, maximum. He grinned and agreed. Sure enough, Del Boy comes back with 250 five minutes later. "No way, mate...too much". A short wait later it was 200. Nope. The locals gathered around the dock were loving it...a couple of old blokes laughing at us. When Del Boy wasn't getting any further with me, one of the men shouted over "400 pesos for three. Deal Or No Deal". Absolutely brilliant; I flashed him a big grin. "Deal". A bit over the odds, but worth it for the laugh.
As it turns out, we didn't leave right now...we waited til the boat was full. No surprises...