“Whale sharked out” AKA travel blasé


I sit there on the boat not moving. Everyone else has jumped in the water and I’m left on a boat with 3 Filipino guys shouting jump at me.


My fins (flippers) now removed and I think this will be an obvious sign that I’m now calling it a day. I’m wrong.


I look up at them and use a phrase that I never would have thought I’d use in my lifetime. A phrase that no one should ever say. “I’m whale sharked out”. The 3 Filipinos just laugh at me and stop saying jump. I’m not sure if their English really is that good or they just remember me from the previous 2 days of snorkelling with the whale sharks and know this is the first time I’ve not jumped at the chance to swim alongside a whale shark.

Here I am sat on a boat a few miles out at sea in Donsol, Philippines, one of the few places in the world where you can swim with whale sharks in the wild naturally, without having to tempt them with food. I barely have to move 2 metres, I can jump in the water, look down and see the magnificent creatures. How many people in their lifetime are going to have this experience? At a guess less than 1%, maybe even less than 0.1% and I can’t be bothered to move 2 metres.

I then look down at my battered legs and feet. Every mark, scratch, scar, missing pieces of skin and bruises I can account for.

Skin clearly missing from my toes and raw flesh being cooked currently in the glaring sunlight from my poorly fitted fins on Tuesday. The top of my foot now appears scarred from scuba diving a few weeks earlier, my knee badly bruised from quad biking around a volcano, my shins scratched from other snorkellers battling with me to swim along side a whale shark a few days ago, and my aching ankles have done more swimming this week than they have walking, they’re just not used to it. All of the marks remind me of a good time and I know the pain was worth it but currently I cannot bring myself to go into the sea for the fifteenth time today. The saltwater, the frantic movement in the ocean is paining me. Yes, these are the first world problems of a traveller.

I lay back in the sun on the deck of the boat and try to reason with myself not to feel bad that I haven’t jumped. That I’m not going to be missing out on the best whale shark encounter yet. Dale, a great guy I met earlier in the month in the Philippines called this “FOMO” (Fear of Missing Out). We both had this bad. It’s sometimes impossible to turn a night out down, even if you’re beyond shattered, just in case you miss the craziest night of your life!

I continue to reason with myself. If you’re in Paris for a week, you’d eventually get bored of climbing the Eiffel Tower everyday right?

If you had your favourite meal every night you’d eventually get bored right?

I knew deep down I had been greedy. I’d wanted too much of a great thing. I was due to check out of my hostel at 12pm and realised this meant I could do snorkelling with whale sharks one last time at 7am. What would be my third time.

The last few months around Malaysia, Borneo and Indonesia I’ve noticed a growing trend with travellers bucket lists. Most people seem to have “swim with a whale shark” near the top of their list. When people now ask me if I’ve swum with whale sharks, I reply “yeah in the Philippines. 3 times for around 3 hours per time”. Yeah I’m a twat. Take into account each time you swim around 15-20 times with the creatures, that means I have probably had around 50 encounters with whale sharks. Have I now really reached a point in my life where if someone asked me if I wanted to swim with whale sharks, I’d just flat out say “No. Been there done that”?

I really hope not.

However I’ve now got that way with so many things while travelling, sunsets, waterfalls, beaches and temples. Unless I hear it’s bloody amazing then I’m willing to give it a miss. Sadly chatting to fellow travellers, they all know the expression “templed out”. Imagine going round England and seeing every church. At some point you’d just go “right, I’m only seeing the truly awesome or different churches from now on”.

But hey, that’s part of the joy of travel. Pushing the boundaries of what is now exciting for you. So yeah I may be a twat for not currently wanting to see whale sharks, but what it does mean is that I now head in directions to see things that weren’t originally on my radar. I’m finishing writing this on a rest day in Nepal, doing the Annapurna Circuit and currently over 3000 metres high. I’m not bumping into a whale shark up here, that’s for sure.

Would I be in Nepal right now if I hadn’t become blasé about beaches, islands and whale sharks? Who knows. What I do know is that whenever I do become blasé about something, then there’s always something else to explore in this awesome world of ours. You just have to be willing to make the changes yourself to reap the rewards.



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