Swimming with Sharks.......SMASH!!!!!!!!!

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Flag of Malaysia  , Terengganu,
Saturday, July 31, 2010

No not Mr Michael Sharkey, he's in London, a.k.a 'The Sharks'.... Actual Sharks!!!

We woke in the heat, it was very hot. We are not sure what time we got to bed but we know it was late and we were drunk, very drunk. It was 10am and we both had stinking hangovers. I boldly decided that there was only one cure..... no, not another pint, not the hair of the dog but to book onto a snorkelling trip to go swimming - with sharks. It seemed a little unlikely really so I wasn't really worried and the swim would do us both good and clear the cobwebs. We booked at 10:15 and by 10:30 we were in a boat zooming to another island.

The first spot we went to, Turtle Bay, we found a turtle, surprisingly, and our guide dove down about 8m then it left the sea floor and rose to the surface to get air we then just floated above watching it swimming around coming really close, it was awesome and a great start to what would be another of the really amazing days of this trip.

The second stop was announced as Shark point, Erica was getting very, very apprehensive with her major phobia of sharks and has often said she wouldn’t even do a cage dive because she thinks she would instantly have a heart attack and die on the spot. Clearly in my eyes this was just a bit of a con to try and get people onto snorkelling trips, there couldn’t really be sharks so close to the shore it was clearly a con, Shark point .... please, get real.

I leapt off the boat nearly causing it to tip over while the driver explained to Erica that these sharks are his friends, he sees them so often you have nothing to worry about. I put on my mask in the water and looked forward before nearly having a heart attack on the spot, sure enough straight in front of me was a black tip reef shark but only a small one maybe 50cm long, she will be able to deal with this I thought. By the time Erica had got in that shark had gone so we probably wouldn’t see another one. She gave me a strict warning that I was not to let go of her once and she put her arms around my neck and we followed the guide for about 20m until Erica started to gasp and shout "oh my god, oh my god" before climbing onto my back pushing me forward into a shark that was about 2m – 2.5m long. We must have had about 7 sharks around us (there were 5 of us by the way) and Erica was still thinking she could climb on top of me and I would still float so she kept pushing me further underwater in a panic. There was one very hairy moment when the biggest shark went passed us then turned and started swimming slowly towards us bearing its teeth. I think at that stage we both filled our speedo’s full of poo. Erica eventually calmed down and it became a really peaceful experience and one of our great travel experiences. Snorkelling with Sharks! Erica certainly faced her fear if still a little drunk from the night before.

We then stopped for lunch were we both started to feel terribly tired and sober again. After a quick bowl of rice with chilli ketchup we were back in the water to try and see the Giant Parrotfish. Back in the water Erica started screaming again, always through her snorkel, but by the time I turned around I couldn’t see what she was screaming for. The guide explained it was a very, very large Grouper (he also had seen it) she thinks maybe 1m long. The guide soon started swimming off (he was more enthusiastic than most tourists and where other snorkelling guides / drivers stay in the boat and say you can see this, that and the other he was almost always first in the boat and last out, he really loved his job). Erica and I quickly followed and within 5 minutes we had around 10 giant parrotfish below us eating the coral. They were incredible and must have been up to 1m long and 40cm deep. We watched them for ages and also saw Stingray, Trigger fish, Puffer fish and thousands of other beautiful fish and coral . We got back to the boat where the driver then asked if it was ok if he smoked a joint and headed off to another spot.

Turtle Beach, where the turtles come to lay their eggs, was just magical with clear white sand and the same clear blue water it was just like being in the Philippines all over again it really is a beautiful, beautiful place but with a chilled out backpacker vibe as well. We just sat playing in the water to which after a while Erica said “I’ve said it before but this is the mother funchen life”. We really didn’t want to leave but at 16:30 we were already much later than advertised so headed back to a very tough reality.

We knew we had drunk quite a bit last night but either we were robbed, we lost some money or we drank way too much. We realised we didn’t even have enough money left for another night’s accommodation. We had planned to then get the Jungle Railway to Taman Negara National Park but we couldn’t book it online and there was nowhere to book it on the island. We were trying to free up more time to spend with Cheryl and Siong in Singapore but now getting on a bus to Taman Nagara the next day gave us enough for a Malay fish curry and E’s spring rolls and a bottle of water. Ouchh.

Not sure if we said but this place has no ATM, and no electricity except for the evening generators so we are pretty much screwed. We don’t regret having a good old fashioned party or 'splashing out’ on the snorkelling (get it?) but the realisation that accommodation, drinking and snorkelling had robbed us of another 2 or 3 days here was quite gutting. We were in bed asleep very early to ensure that we got up to watch the sunrise before we left another magical place that will leave us with great memories.

We were only woken by the fireworks from the beach at 23:30.  Then fell straight back to sleep.
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Sonja & Col on

This is on out holiday list !! Even more so after your beautiful photos. Maybe a Cairns challenge for Erica, nighttime snorkel feeding the reef sharks !! Congrats on facing your fears.

Rorie on

Now that we are actually home in freezing Ireland, i really really wish that we had time to go see this place. It looks class, seriously though stay travelling as long as ye can because ye will be so unbelievably depressed when ye get back from yer trip that ye wont know what to do with yourselves. Well done Lady E, you were braver than i was with the snakes. You will ace the barrier reef now when ye get there!!!

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