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Butanding, Take Three

View 2012/13 Myanmar, Malaysia & Philippines on alexchan's travel map.

large_5550_13621481781320.jpgPhoto of a photo that looks like what we saw.
Finally, the big and up-close encounter with the whale-shark

I had been of two minds as to whether to do the whale-sharks for a third time in Donsol [Donsol-travel-guide-1311436] today. On one hand, chances of a sighting are pretty slim. But on the other hand, I do have the time and it isn’t very much money for something that I could possibly never do again.

So I decided on the latter. We had the same group as yesterday, except we lost the French hanger-on and gained my English neighbour from the Shoreline.

We set off at 0730 again. Within 15 minutes, we had a sighting. I was better prepared this time and jumped into the water more quickly to be rewarded with a good view of a 7 metre whale-shark swimming past.large_5550_13621483831029.jpgMt Mayon from the Embarcadero waterfront.It was brief but satisfying.

Cruising around, it was easy to know who had seen a whale-shark today and who hadn’t. You couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces, and there were none on the other boats. I didn’t really expect to see any more for the day.

But around 0945, we cruised towards a flotilla with some people in the water. Knowing how quickly the big fish go back down, I thought it would be fruitless. But I was proved wrong.

I jumped into the water and swam forward. I couldn’t see any whale-shark. Then suddenly I was in front of its gaping mouth; I realised that snorkelling, one gets a view downwards and slightly forwards so I didn’t realise that we were on a collision course.

I tried to veer to my left and brushed against its side. I then swam to its tail and looked forward, then followed it as it kept moving. Then the crowds from the other boats turned up. All I could see were fins. As I’ve had such a close encounter, I felt no need to jostle with the crowd (and besides, I had some salt water down my throat).

There were so many boats and people all around I had trouble finding my boat “Ivan”. Eventually I saw it and swam towards it, dodging the outriggers from various other boats.

Back on board, there were high-fives and hugs. The guide estimated that it was 12 metres long. It was truly an amazing experience for all of us and we will all leave Donsol happy. Some of the others who were better snorkelers, dived underwater to get a better view unobstructed by all the others that crowded around the whale-shark.

I thought that the experience can’t have been that great for the shark. There were far too many people and the rules laid down by the authorities had been ignored. Their numbers may decline if they continue to be disturbed in this manner. But then eco-tourism (if you can call it that), is actually saving them. Without this industry, the locals would be hunting them.

It has taken three attempts for me to get a sighting this good; four days for all the others except the lucky Brit (it's his first day). It just goes to show that it is very much a luck game and one should keep trying if time and funds allow.

Moving on to Legazpi

After a wash, I took a tricycle, van and another tricycle to the Ellis Ecotel in Legaspi [Legaspi-travel-guide-1314407] for my last night in the Philippines. It was intended to be a change in scenery, located next to a mall. The mall turned out to be less bustling that I would have liked but it is part of the Embarcadero waterfront complex for the city of Legazpi. So, it was quite a nice setting.

At night, I felt a pain in my upper right jaw and right eye socket. I pressed the right side on my face it was sore to pressure. It felt like a sinus issue. I wonder if some water had got in during my snorkel. I've had quite a few problems with bronchial and sinus this trip, only to have it all disappear in the last two weeks. Not impressed that it's come back.


Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Philippines

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