10/10/10 - 14/10/10
10.10.2010 - 14.10.2010 26 °C
Sunday - flight to Tawau at 7.20, so check in at 6.20, no probs there. Arrived in Tawau at 8.10, got bags then gatecrashed a tour bus heading into Semporna, the port town where all transport to 'The Islands' (Mabul, Kapali and Sipidan) is arranged from. The coach driver charged me 30 ringgit (£6) for an hr journey (it costs this for 6 hrs on the mainland!) but did drop me off outside Uncle Changs at around half 9, who I will be diving with on Mabul Island...
I was chauffeur driven to the bank in an Uncle Chang minibus. I'm still not sure if it was because:
A) they think westerners are too lazy to walk (it's prob a 10 min walk there n back)
B) the driver had nothing better to do
C) i was likely I'd be mugged on route and they'd not see my money in the dive shop or
D) all of the above!
Semporna is not a pretty little seaside port. It's tiny yes, but not pretty. And I only literlly spent 1-2 hrs there, most of which entailed the bank journey and then looking out from the pier next to Uncle Changs. There isn't even a map in my Rough Guide, it's that small a town. I will prob have to stay there for a night before catching my onward travel elsewhere, so will provide more Semporna delights later...
At 10.30 I was put on a speedboat with water n toilet roll supplies heading to Mabul. It really was a big boat so felt like a VIP, despite the bumpy ride (everyone bombs along the water here)...I was offloaded onto a stilted platform that Is Uncle Changs resort. It has stilted bungalows off to one side in lines away from the main communal area, a deck consisting of sun loungers and the main deck area for eating or hiding from the rain. My dorm room has 4 beds and some rats that I haven't seen but know they are there - they nibbled my cheese biscuits. Felt a bit like Wallace (think Wallace n Gromit) when the wererabbirt ate his cheese. I didn't even get to eat one :'(
The bathroom is en suite but is v basic and has no sink (circular small hole in the floor, my aim is quite good now). All food is included in the price (60 ringgit. £12) and is buffet style (so far rice rice rice) with unlimited tea, coffee N water. Not too bad really.Beer is to be found down the planked walkway if you take a right at the end, a 5 ringgit (£1) can will be yours. The planks are rickety and there are gaps so it takes me a good ten mins to do a beer run- I don't wanna fall in the water! The first night here the weather was crap- the high tide sent waves of water through the planks making it a cat n mouse game each time anyone walked across them, wondering If they'd get wet. I was lucky n remained dry.
Monday - The next day was a cool overcast day with spots of rain. Dive day in Mabul n Kapali. I've never done a dive without a gorgeous day
behind me so was bot really feeling the vibe, til I got onthe water an saw all new fish n frog fish, crocodile fish and lion fish! All pretty
cool. 3 dives, 2 at Mabul, 1 at Kapali. That eve I spent playing cards in the cool calm evening with my dive buddy Scott. He's American and
easy to relax with. Preparing for Sipidan tomo so didn't really know what to expect- just heard amazing things about it, that I'd see
sharks, turtles, baracuda schools etc... Well, here we go...
Tuesday[/b] - Sipidan Dive day. Woke up to stunningly amazing sunny weather, it couldn't be more of a perfect day to make me feel optimistic to go diving somewhere new. I did 3 dives, South Point, Baracuda Bay and Coral Gardens. Coral Gardens ended up being a drift dive too and the current was very strong, we were moving in some part at a metre per second?! Well, that was quick for me! So all new experiences and I survived. To be honest it all went by in a bit of an adrenaline blur, so I can't rememer too much but I hired a camera so got piccies to remember things by. I did see lots of White tip reef sharks- they're cool, very relaxed n have the coldest stare you an imagine, as any shark does! Turtles! Lots n lots n lots of turtles
Wednesday - Uncle Chang (the owner) offered me a discount dive at Sipidan for today which I accepted last night, however have woken up to rain this morning. I'm not sure how much of an impact this will have underwater, presumably visibility will be affected?! So not sure whether to do local muck dives in Mabul to see the Macros life?! No new people have come here for the past 2 days. There are only 5 ppl staying last night and 4 of us leave today on the 4.30 boat! I'm heading back to Semporna to spent the night in preparation for catching the bus to Sepilok to see the ourangutans! Then I've provisionally booked to go on the kinabtangan river trip which includes treks too... But since it's rain rain rain I'm not so sure I'm keen to do this. However being British, I should be used to it right?! Sigh... Just different when you've been used to hot hot hot for the past 4 months. As it turns out the rain didn't have any affect n by the time we were at sipidan, it was another beautiful day... Saw lots more sharks but fewer turtles cos of the storm last night. Saw baracuda and jack fish which were cool cos if u swim into their centre, the school end up circling round you- v cool sensation!
Semporna - After the dives it was straight on the boat to semporna where I checked in at scubajunkies for the eve. I went to an Internet cafe and had my first western dinner in days- which was dissapointing garlic bread (forgot they use sweet bread) and chicken cheese sandwich.. Then to bed for an early start tomo.
Thursday - woke up at 6, walked to bus ticket office n got bus ticket for 8am, walked back to hotel for disappointing breakfast then got bags n returned to bus. It took 5 hrs to sepilok, the penultimate destination before sandakan. I arrived at Uncle Tans at about 1pm in time for Lunch but since we'd had a lunch stop off on the bus I wasn't so bothered. Checked in, dumped stuff in dorm room then I chilled out in a hammock n read. Not many ppl about n not feeling 100%.