After leaving Denham, we made our way to Monkey Mia which turned out to be more of a resort-styled island rather than a nature reserve. The most memorable part of our stay there was when our sturdy tents fly away that evening when we were having dinner since it was storming outside. Luckily, we befriended the bartenders working at the local pub and they snuck us into the empty employee cabins. I thought the cabins looked creepy and dirty, but it’s better than sleeping in the wet tents that are struggling to stand up against the wind and rain. There were no bedsheets so I curled up in my sleeping bag making sure I don’t touch the worn out mattress. Nonetheless we woke up early morning for the dolphin feeding. Several dolphins swam by for the feeding as the swarm of tourist surrounded the beach hoping to get a chance to feed a dolphin. One of my travelmates was lucky enough to be selected to feed a dolphin.
One of my favorite destinations was Shell Beach. Instead of sand, the beach is completely made of shells. The water is completely transparent and clean. I’m not sure why I found it particularly fascinating, but the clear water and little white shells made the beach seemed so pristine and tranquil.
Swimming with Whale Sharks
1 week into our journey, we finally made it to Exmouth. We booked go a whale shark tour for the following day. Swimming with whale sharks is the biggest attraction in Exmouth. Whale sharks are the largest fishes in the world, but they are vegetarians so its safe for humans to swim at a 3 meter distance from these giants. It cost $375 for a full day tour to snorkel at the Ningaloo Reef which is said to be more beautiful than the Great Barrier Reef and see whale sharks. The problem is not the cost, but being in the middle of the ocean as a non swimmer who almost drowned. Just to add onto the tension, my finger was so dry it started to bleed right before I was supposed to jump in the water. I was joking how I’m probably going to be the first human this vegetarian fish eats because I probably look like a giant broccoli to him. The moment I was told to jump in the middle of the sea with my wetsuit, flippers, snorkeling mask, and noodle, I was terrified. It was my first time being in uncalm water since my near drowning incident in Rio last year. It took me a good 3 seconds before I got the courage to jump in. “Fuck it, here goes nothing!” I thought the moment I pushed myself off the boat. One of the crew member quickly held my hand since I had explained that I do not know how to swim. Since it’s my first time snorkeling, I hard to practice breathing with my mouth which was surprisingly harder for me to get used to than I anticipated. Perhaps, I was all tense in the beginning that adjusting to anything becomes difficult. For the most part, I held onto the crew member’s hand as we jumped in the subsequent times and when we swam alongside the whale sharks. I think we successfully swam with 3 since the 2 other we spotted took a dive before we got close to them. For the final jump, I managed to get in the water without a noodle. Initially, I was only going to jump in with a smaller noodle, but everyone encouraged me to go without. After snorkeling, we spent the rest of the tour whale spotting. We spotted a venomous sea snake at some point and a dugong as well.
Am I still afraid of the water? Yes. One of these days I’ll learn how to swim, but that doesn’t guarantee that I will be completely comfortable in uncalm water. I’m glad to have participated in the snorkeling and wished that I was more relaxed at the time, but I enjoyed the experience nonetheless.