Penang - Part 2

Trip Start Sep 06, 2004
Trip End May 22, 2005

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Tuesday, September 14, 2004

On Sunday 12th September 2004 I went to Palace Payar Marine park, this is near Langkawi Island.
From Georgetown we took a ferry to the park, it took about 1 hours to get there, but sitting on the top deck of the ferry in the sun made it a very nice trip.
You arrive alongside a landing platform, with looks like a very large barge. On board there are lots of plastic tables and chairs with plastic basket under them. Information from the staff is limited and after a very brief introduction you are on you own.
You collect your snorkeling gear and off you go.
From the moment you enter the crystal clear waters you are surrounded by fish of every shape and colour, it's amazing. I spent the morning just snorkeling around the area we were allowed, look at all the different corals and fish, my underwater camera was very useful here-thanks F&R. there was a large barracuda which scared the living daylights of me, me was about 1 meters long and evil. We had a lovely lunch and after that we had the chance to got and see black tipped sharks being feed. We all stood in the surf, just about thigh level on me. The guide then started to throw fish into the water, soon after the sharks started to appear, they were beautiful, about 6 of them came in very close their size ranging from about 20cm to 1m in length. After the feeding we went back to the main platform. The guide Benny asked if I had enjoyed the feeding and I say yes but I would have loved to go swimming with them. He asked if I was a strong swimmer and would I be able to swim back to them about 400m away my answer was yes. He said that he would be more than willing to let me swim with them, he also explain that, because they are almost in captivity they are feed on a regular basis and had never attack any of the swimmers. But they were nosy and would come very close to you to have a look and that I wasn't to panic.
So we got into the water with our snorkeling gear on and off we went. Benny was pointing things out all the way back to the sharks, some of the fish and coral I had passed earlier but had missed, it was great. Benny then pointed down and just below me was a group of sharks about 10 of them all quite large. It was amazing. Soon enough one of them had come to have a closer look and nudged my legs, I wasn't scared at all, very excited and amazed. These are beautiful creatures and my respect for them has just ground. Benny indicated that I could stroke one of them- well at the time I think that's what he meant!!. So the next one that came close I managed to stroke his back, I felt very privileged. We stayed about 15mins just swimming with the sharks and watching them, they were so beautiful and I have now fulfilled and ambition I never thought would be possible.
After a long swim back Benny asked if I had enjoyed myself, I nearly burst into tears. I replied yes.
Benny said I had been very brave to stroke the shark and that most people didn't even want to swim with them.
I never at any point felt in any danger with these creatures, not once.
As soon as I got back to the hotel I was on the phone to my sister, I just needed to tell someone that I had swam with sharks. After specking to my dad as well, I promptly fell asleep.
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