It was exhausting. We got to Manila from Bangkok at 5am, but never got to sleep because we had to spend time with my brother from Canada. Then we didn’t get to sleep anyomore because we had to leave the house at 1am because we had a 4am flight to Cebu. So we were running on our 3rd straight day without sleep. I was knocked out on the turbulent flight to Cebu, then a 2-hour ride to Tanaw-an. That’s when we saw them, something I’ve always wanted to do ALL MY LIFE: swim with whale sharks. They said we were lucky because for the past days, only about 1 or 2 would show up, but today all 7 of them were in attendance, especially the largest of them all, nicknamed “Big Mama”. It was a profound experience. The largest animal I ever swam with, and yet I felt perfectly safe. I still get goosebumps remembering the feeling of getting into the water and being mere feet away from the largest fish in the ocean. Big Mama was particularly awesome to behold. The rules are simple, keep a safe distnace from them (5 meters) and no sunblock. Everyone pretty much kept to the rules, except this group of divers who got into everyone’s faces. They were bullies, literally pushing snorkelers aside if we blicked their shots (they were filming). Plus, they didn’t pay like the rest of us. Their boat would just dock nearby, then swim to where the sharks are. And since they didn’t pay, they didn’t go through the briefing. So they go too near the sharks, they film in the mouth area (that’s a no-no swim area), and basically being the worst behaved of the lot. Divers shouldn’t be allowed to swim with the sharks without being briefed. It’s really the sad side of tourism. But that aside, it’s a life highlight for me. Unbelievable, incredible, awesome. I don’t think I’ll be forgetting this experience till my dying day. Goosies.
Swimming With Whale Sharks!