Sunday, 3 May 2009

Coron Town, Busuanga

The pier came into view, the sun beating down as we edged closer. It's a fairly small, nondescript port, and the surroundings were hardly inspiring. Myself and a Frenchman named Will shared a tricycle into the main town, which was a light improvement. Coron is a small, dusty, ramshackle place. The tricycle depot and market form the hub, and a small number of cracked roads lead off to the 23 barangays (districts). There's no beach here, so the place has never suffered from extensive modernisation, though Korean investors are doing their utmost to change this by building a large hotel and flattening the market. They built the airport on Busuanga, the island Coron sits on, so their money is talking. I hope they don't ruin it.

There's not a lot goes on here, besides diving. The only bars to speak of are one attached to Bistro Coron, owned by a very nice Frenchie named Bruno, an upstairs videoke bar full of hookers called Bottleground (be a fitting name fo a Preston pub), the Helldiver Bar next to Sea Dive, and the Prostitute Disco. Needless to say, I stick to Bistro, it being the only place to hear decent music too, as Louis the barman likes his Funk and Soul.

The food here is as appalling as anywhere else in the country. I haven't eaten so much Western food in any foreign country, you can't do anything else. It's cheap enough in some of these local joints, but keeping it down could be a challenge. Besides, Bruno does a mean Crepe I'm sticking with him.

Myself and Will found rooms at Sea Breeze, a cheap place with a friendly lady called Auntie Betty running it. They should rename it Shit Breeze, as it sits over the water...when the tide goes out the mud stinks. And you're lucky if you can only smell the mud; toilets in these places empty directly into the sea below. The mosquitoes are ravenous, and pigs and cockerels vy for your attention at all hours of the day an night. Then there's the catfights which take place every night, otherwordly screams breaking the silence. Not to mention the local who started blasting R&B at 6.30am. No need for an alarm clock to get up for diving. Like I say, the place was cheap...and I didn't plan on being here long.

The locals in this scruffy town are very friendly, everyone says Hello on the street. It feels more real than your usual Filipino seaside towns, the absence of a beach is a good thing; otherwise it could end up another Panglao. Despite initial misgivings, the place would grow on me, I later found.

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