November 15th, 2006 – by: bede17
view of Penang, which I think is rather pretty
Right now we are moored off of Pulau Payar. Iâ€™m sure that will change to anchored off Langkawi by the time I send this, but I wanted to write now before I forget some things. We had a nice couple days in Penang and it turned out to be a pretty big city. They even had a Tesco! I used my free time there to catch up on some internet stuff. It was still a kind of dirty and noisy city though, so it was nice to have a nice day passage to a small island where we could go swimming again. Our first day here in Payar I sat surface for a group of divers off the point of the island.
When they got up from their dive we noticed what appeared to be dolphins in the distance. We brought the dinghy out towards them and some people got in and snorkeled around. They didnâ€™t appear to be too interested in us, but one of the shipmates said he touched one as it swam by. We spent a good half hour out there in the dinghy, watching groups of five dolphins jumping around and arcing through the water. I think there were at least two dozen dolphins (actually we think they were porpoises) splashing around us the whole time. Another cool thing we saw was a sailfish. I wouldnâ€™t have known thatâ€™s what it was, I thought it was a shark at first, but apparently itâ€™s rare to see what we saw, which was the sailfish with its like sail out of the water, just cruising around for like ten minutes.
Basically it looked like a large oddly shaped fin swimming through the water. It actually came quite close to the dinghy, within ten feet. So that was a cool morning. Yesterday we had an early lunch and went into shore at noon to see the shark feeding. The marine park here gives food to black tipped reef sharks every day from 12-1, so the sharks just know to show up. Boats full of tourists come especially for this, so we werenâ€™t the only ones there, but it was still really cool. First we snorkeled in the water, which was fun because I donâ€™t do that very often. There were fish everywhere, and when I tried to stand on a sandy patch these fish kept coming up and biting my legs. It actually really hurt, and I was bleeding but the sharks didnâ€™t seem to care because none came up to me.
the big sailfish we saw
I did see about four snorkeling though, it was cool. The sharks ranged from 2-5 feet long. Then the marine park guys waded into the water and splashed chicken bones around, and about 20-30 sharks started getting really agitated and swimming in circles around them. The guys could lead the sharks around with the bone wherever they wanted, in circles, through their legs, in figure eights, you name it. It was pretty cool to watch, and every now and then the shark would be a little bit faster than the guy and eat the bone and swim off. There was a crowd of people on the beach watching this and eventually I joined them. At that point the guys were feeding them whole fish, and leading the sharks up the beach so that when they turned around their tail would splash around in the shallow water as they swam out and splash everybody standing there.
there are a group of porpoises swimming just above her head
One of our shipmates touched the sharks a couple times in the shallow water, but I was only splashed by them. Oh well. It was pretty cool. This morning we did a beach cleanup for the park here, and this afternoon is an optional dive. Then tomorrow I think we sail to Langkawi, and then after that back to Phuket to clear in before heading to some Thai islands. Crazy that we are two thirds done already. I think this last month is going to fly by.
Now weâ€™re in Langkawi, which is pretty cool. The views of the islands as we entered were beautiful. The only other thing of note that happened since I wrote the above paragraphs is that I went diving! It had been almost 7 years since Iâ€™d last dove, partly because I didnâ€™t always feel like it, but partly because every time I didnâ€™t dive it got harder to go again mentally. But we had extra tanks and some staff were going, so I went with Eliot and Mike and a shipmate and it was fun. I definitely was not a good diver, I need to work on my buoyancy and mask de-fogging skills, but I remembered everything fine and the next time I get in I will be more relaxed. But I was proud of myself for finally doing it.