Dorsals off Donsal
Trip Start Sep 19, 2010
54Trip End Sep 19, 2011
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From Legaspi we caught a mini van to Donsol. It did not leave until every seat was taken and I dare say they squeezed another couple on for good measure judging my how cramped it was. The good thing about mini vans is they are direct unlike Jeepneys that stop every 50 yards. One and a half hours later we arrived in Donsol. The mini van driver took us to our hotel for an additional 50 Pesos. I gave him 100 Pesos expecting to get some change but before I knew it he had driven away. This sort of behavior was really getting on my wick and I would have to put a stop to it soon.
We checked into the hotel and as we were doing so I asked the receptionist where I could find an ATM machine. His answer was like a blow to the Kidneys!!!! " Legaspi is the nearest town with an ATM machine " He told me. I could not believe it!! Cathy had said we should call at an ATM in Legaspi and I said we should wait until Donsol. So, no one's fault but mine!! This news put me in a foul mood and I bitched and moaned for a while. Cathy called me a "drama queen". I then spelled it out to her that I would be spending the rest of my day traveling for at least 5 hours and may not be able to get back to Donsol tonight!! This entailed a motorbike taxi to the Jeepney station then 2 jeepney rides back to Legaspi, as we had caught the last mini van of the day to Donsol. If I was being a drama queen I figured I had ample cause!!!
We had a quick lunch, I kissed Cathy and told her if I couldn't get back that night I would be on the first van in the morning. Cursing my own stupidity I set off back to the other side of Luzon. My trip could be compared to taking a bus from Ripon to Manchester, with the bus stopping at every bus stop along the way and no motorways in sight....... and back again!!! Just for a bloody ATM !!! I won't bore you any further with my tale of woe except that I did get back that night at about 6:30 well and truly shattered. On the plus side I did get to see Mt Mayon again and that can't be all bad. That night we went out to a good restaurant as a kind of treat for me after my days hardships.
Early the next morning we had a quick breakfast then headed over to the Whale Shark visitor center where we had to register and sign up for a boat. Because we were " Warren early" we missed the first batch of boats that were headed out to where the whale sharks are. This meant we would be going out at 10 Am. I got speaking to an English guy and he told me it was better later on as there was less boats out. We ended up sharing a boat with him and his girlfriend and a couple of Philippino girls. The English guy was a diving fanatic and as one usually finds with diving fanatics they talk about nothing but diving, YAWN. 10 O'clock came around we paid our boat fee and set off. The day was beautiful and we were all full of excitement.
It was not until sometime in the 1990's that a local diver reported many sightings of Whale sharks off the coast off Donsol. Since then it has become the number one place on Earth to see these elusive creatures, and nowhere else on Earth do they congregate is such numbers. Whale Sharks are in fact the largest fish in the world growing up to 45 foot long. They are of course sharks not whales. They are plankton eaters I'm pleased to say and are very gentle creatures. They are blue-grey in colour and are covered in silver spots, no doubt you will have seen them on TV at sometime or other. When swimming with these creatures SCUBA gear is not allowed as it scares the Shark. Cathy and I have our own snorkeling gear so that saved us a few bob not having to hire them.
A spotter soon yelled down that there was a shark to our right. The boat turned to position us in its path. We geared up and sat on the side of the boat waiting for the signal to plunge into the water. The signal came and in we went all six of us. It was a great pleasure hitting the water on such a hot day, I can tell you!! We had a guide with us in the water and he indicated to us where the shark was coming from. I put my head under and headed in that direction. The water is rich in plankton, so the visibility is about 15 to 20 feet. As I was swimming forward a shape started to emerge in front of me and before I knew it I was directly in the path of this huge gaping mouth. I swam like hell to get out of it's way. Christ!! it was big!! When you are in the water with the Whale Shark you are bombarded with a emotions, well I was anyway. I was excited, humbled, awed and privileged to name but a few. We swam with the shark for about 50 Meters before he slowly dived down into the depths. We quickly made it back to the boat all talking excitedly about our encounters. This pattern was repeated time and again. Sometimes the whale shark would dive down quickly and other times the shark would stay at about 10 feet for as long as 30 mins. They cruise along at such a speed that it is easy for a swimmer to keep up with it. We swam within feet of these amazing creatures, close enough to reach out and touch. I resisted the temptation as we were asked not to. We must have swam with at least ten different Sharks in the 3 hours that we were out. Unfortunately my fins are not a good fit and they cut my feet up badly by the end of the 3 hours. It was truly a day to remember for the rest of my life. Better still who would have imagined 6 months ago Cathy snorkeling with the biggest fish in the world in open water? I am very proud of her. Who knows maybe next year she will do a divers course?
Well that's another activity to cross off our to do list. Now it's time for a little R & R at the near by Islands of Ticao and Masbate. Shame it ended up a disaster!!