EXTREME snorkeling

Donsol Travel Blog

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for a first timer.

I was full of mixed feelings as I walked into the tourist information center. Truth to be told, I didn't know what to feel. I guess you could say I was feeling a little numb, even though it was only 9 in the morning. As if waking up at 3.45 in the morning to catch a plane and another 1 and a half hours ride into the village through the winding and bumpy road were not enough to overwhelm me, I had to face it.

Or more like, I have to do it. I've came too far, traveled too long to chicken out. It's not a matter of proving to others that I can do it, it's about braving the fear and proving to myself that it's not as bad or... scary as I thought it would be.

That day, on a sunny pleasant morning of March 6th, at approximately 9.30am, while everyone at work was still comfortably sipping their cup of coffee over breakfast, I was about to go on my first snorkeling session of my life (shaddap I know how this sounds like -_-)

And for someone who can't even swim properly (yet) and never even been into the deep ocean, this was definitely a BIG BIG challenge for me. Possibly the most extreme FIRST snorkeling experience ever.

For I was about to be thrown into the seemingly endless big ocean for the mission.

For this...

To sneak peek/swim/catch/watch the world's largest fish.

I know.. what was I thinking. This is definitely the second most extreme thing I've done in my life, well apart from sky diving but I assure you sky diving was way scarier.

So yes, our BIGGEST mission for this trip was to catch (not catch catch if you know what I mean) the whaleshark, or more commonly known as "Butanding" by the locals.

Found in the waters of Donsol, Philippines in the Asia region, this whaleshark sightings can only be seen from December throughout May (though you may not even get to see them throughout these months) annually. Read more on whalesharks from wiki.

So yea, the name WHALE = BIG, SHARK = *GASP* SCARY

But no, these animals are actually tame. And they feed mostly on plankton and can grow up to at least 40 feet (12 meters) long. Who says you need meat to grow that big?

Since we had no bookings on whatsoever, we had to look for people to share a boat with. One boat cost about 3,500 peso and rental for snorkeling gear is about 300 peso per pax. We were lucky to have another Australian couple sharing the boat with us.

This was THE boat for our mission.

And some guidelines which I think no one really gives a damn.

It was kinda like a spur of a moment thing. Still feeling very much blurred out while waiting for the bf to ask if we can still make it to the tour, I didn't quite expect us to get to do it on that day itself. But we did. In matter of seconds and minutes, I was forced to change into my swimsuit and before I even had time to digest everything, I was already on board with the others.

Still in the mood to camwhore, for now...

The others were feeling very excited. I was too but I was feeling anxious and nervous at the same time. Didn't know what to expect, don't know how I'll feel when I'm in the water, like... NADA :S

We were briefed by the guide on what to do. Basically we had to be ready all the time. From the moment they spot the whalesharks, we only had like 30 seconds to put on our snorkeling gear and flippers and then wait for his instructions to jump into the sea.

This was me, yea, the fake smile I forced on my face gave me away.

In less than 10 minutes away from the shore, we were ready for our first jump. Everyone was being clumsy. We were instructed to sit on the right side of the boat (directions differ depending on where the fish is coming from) and on his 'Jump' command, we splashed into the water. Swimming, floating or whatnot, we were clueless.

Then I heard someone shouting "LOOK DOWN! LOOK DOWN!"

I looked down.

NOTHING. Green water. Bubbles. My hair floating in the water. I thought I saw spots in the water but I'm not sure.

I came up.

Damnit, cannot breathe properly with the snorkel gear because I didn't quite fix it right.

Yes, at that moment I felt quite fucked up to be honest.

Everyone gathered around the guide, asking each other if anyone saw anything. None could confirm.

First attempt FAILED.

Went up to the boat and they continued looking.

Within minutes, they spotted another one. Again we rushed to put on our snorkel gear and on command, jumped into the sea. For a first timer, I was pretty much LOST. Couldn't move fast because my flippers were hard and the waves were pushing me to and fro.

Lucky for me, the guide came to the rescue and he led my hand as we paddled our way in the sea. Then he shouted "LOOK DOWN LOOK DOWN!" I looked into the water. Greenish bottomless water. And then I saw it....

Right under me....

I saw this GIANT thing.

I blurted out "AWESOME" into my mask. I'm telling you, NO WORDS can describe how I felt at that time. This AMAZING feeling of watching that animal swimming past under me, so far yet so near. It was so close to the surface, so close to where I was floating that I was afraid I might accidentally kicked it with the flippers @_@

The feeling was just... unexplainable with words.

We did a couple more jumps after that. The following pictures were taken by the bf (the one with the watermark)


The head

*The following pics are not ours, I googled them up just to show you*

Yes, this is how close they get to the surface.

In total, we jumped 8 times into the sea, managed to spot 4 different types of whalesharks. 7 successful attempts out of the 8, which is really not bad at all! It was definitely worth it.

The scariest jump had to be the second last jump. The guide took my hand and led me to the head of the animal where I could see its eyes and to my horror, the mouth! It looked so big it could swallow a few humans at the same time :S

This is not my picture but I swear I was this close @_@

BIG and WIDE mouth. Farking scary I'm not kidding.

It was impossible to get a picture of the whole fish as the water was quite murky. The bf had to swim very close to get a clear picture he almost got hit by the tail. These animals swim pretty fast too so one has to be a really fast swimmer to catch up with them. Thank god for my guide!

This is the whole fish.

As we made our way slowly back to shore, with me carrying a few bruises on my leg and hand (don't remind me) I couldn't stop thinking what an amazing experience this had been. Up until today (and probably going to last forever), I still have the first image of the animal swimming under me vividly engraved in mind.

It was that cool, that awesome, that amazing, that breathtaking, that orgasmic.

Now, is this not the MOST EXTREME FIRST TIME Snorkeling experience ever or what? -_-

But I'm definitely not regretting any second of it. I'm not gutsy, I'm just... open for suggestion and definitely willing to try new things

With this experience, I braved another fear, closing another chapter of my life.
andrejav says:
Very nice blog
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011
One_Coconut says:
That was a great blog - so funny! You had me intrigued. What an amazing experience. Good for you for overcoming your fear!
Posted on: Apr 16, 2011
flamingomaximus says:
Wow, as I read your blogs I got carried away too with all your descriptions when you encountered the whalesharks. Nice blog! Great that this one was being featured! Congrats!
Posted on: Apr 16, 2011
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