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Location: Aileu, Timor-Leste

I'm an aid worker, trying to do my little bit to leave the world a better place than I found it. This blog sporadically tracks my adventures in various countries, as I try to play my part is the massive venture to Make Poverty History.

Tuesday, 7 March 2006

Swimming with Sharks

Oh man – I am doing happy dances all over the place right now – Placebo’s new album comes out in six days, and it is Triple J’s feature album this week, so they keep playing tracks from it – I hear that familiar voice (Brian Molko really does have a bit of a whine to his voice that makes him easily identifiable!) come through the speakers (I stream the radio through the internet at my desk at work) and promptly whack the headphones in, turn it up and bop along. I am liking the album a lot right now – it sounds really good. Always a bit nerve-wracking when your favourite band brings out a new album – there is the excitement of a whole new album of their songs, countered with ‘what if it isn’t as good or I don’t like it?’ So far I heartily approve and cannot wait to get my hands on it. It comes out next Monday and Alex is tasked to go buy it for me straight away and put it in the next courier bag to Manila – so I won’t get it for another week L Still – woo hoo. They are playing the song Cops right now on the radio and it is stunning…

Okay – I have so much other stuff to be talking about and I haven’t yet – my last weekend, the political situation in the Philippines, my time in Thailand etc. I think I will work backwards and make this entry about last weekend…

So last weekend we had a bit of a last hurrah for my intake of AYADs, plus a couple from the next intake and went to Donsol, to swim with the whale sharks!! This is one of only two places in the world where you can do this (the other being north-western Australia). Whale sharks are the biggest fish in the world and totally harmless - you go out into the ocean in a boat with 'spotters' standing on a pole looking for the sharks. When they spot one, you put on your fins and snorkeling mask and hop in to swim around with it until it vanishes into the depths. We normally only got a minute or less with the shark before it vanished into the depths and we were left treading water on the surface, grinning at each other like idiots and whooping it up. The third one though, we swam along with for ages before it finally left us – fortunately Bobby, our spotter, grabbed my arm and pulled me in the right direction when I got distracted by all the murkiness stirred up by eight sets of flippers (*shiny*!) and I had prime position, right above its back – I felt like I was part of his pod!!! It was pretty awesome.

The first time in we were a little nervous – to jump into the water with a shark, no matter how harmless…eek! And you get in and madly swim in the direction the spotters are pointing and look around frantically, all the while bumping into each other. And then suddenly you see this massive mouth (with no teeth!) coming towards you and there it is – they are black with while spots and have these huge mouths and broad backs. And you are suddenly trying to reverse your direction to swim along with them and see them as much as possible before they vanish into the depths.

Sadly it was raining the whole weekend (has been raining a lot around there - getting down towards the area of the landslide) and it was cloudy so we couldn't see Mt Mayon, which is a famous active volcano (currently rumbling and belching smoke - we anticipate a potential eruption soon?) which meant staying by the beach wasn't so much fun and also that we got pretty cold out in the boat looking at the sharks (my lips were blue and teeth chattering by the time we came in - I would have given anything for a hot shower, but hot water out there). It also meant that we didn’t see as many sharks as one normally would on a day out. Because it was so grey and the water was darker, it was harder for the spotters to see the sharks and we only saw four (although I actually only saw three – I missed the last one), whereas people would normally see two to three times as many as that in a morning out.

Still - to swim along with a six meter-long whale shark as it just goes about its day is a pretty fantastic experience - I just felt like part of the pod, swimming along above one!! Maybe I’ll come back as a dolphin (prettier than a whale shark!)


Blogger 'Brush and Bel said...

Mmmmmm....Placebo. Ever noticed how many of their songs are about getting high?

I did tell you that I have signed copies of "Placebo" and "Without You I'm Nothing" didn't I?

Tue. Mar. 21, 10:59:00 pm  
Blogger Kate said...

Just noticed this - hee!
Yes, I have noticed that about the dear boys, although I think the number of songs about drugs does drop with each album - the current one doesn't have any "My Sweet Princes" or "Special K's"!! I guess they always say 'write what you know' hey?

I had forgotten that you had those albums but I remember now that you mention it - I think we had this discussion at my farewell when you saw the concert pics in the book Clare and Anna did for me. Still insanely jealous - can I have them when you die, please?!

Thu. Apr. 13, 11:23:00 pm  

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