Somewhere in Asia travel blog

Ride in the minivan

Goats in Semporna

Egret hot-spot

Going home

Ewok the dive dog

Sibuan beach

Fishing boats

Sea Gypsies' settlement on Sibuan Island

Sea Gypsy boat and home

Sea Gypsy girl collecting sea urchins

Sea Gypsy - prepping sea urchins

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Local children

Local children

A very outgoing local boy

Local boys having fun

Local boys showing off

The local footprints

Mother and daughter on their way home

A family returing home

Returning home with a boat-full of seaweed

Getting closer

Myles about to do his first dive at Sipadan


Semporna is a small bustling town that attracts foreigners on their way to diving at the world's # 2nd dive spot (Sipadan). The Galapagos Islands are # 1. In the guide book, it states that there is not much to see or do in Semporna, which is actually true if you are looking to just dive. However, of all the places we have seen it was one of the most interesting. With Bajua, Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian and Filipino people sharing the town it is quite colourful, and one must not forget the goats walking the streets

. The area could easily be enjoyed for a more then a few days. Unfortunately, we only had a couple of days, and we spend them on the water. Since I had just taken my open-water dive course, I was rather excited about diving at Sipadan. With our lack of time we had booked the accommodation before leaving KK as well as our one-day dive permit for Sipadan. Sipadan is in a marine park and permits disappear quickly. Dive Junkies is located in Semporna, and is run by a whole lot of guys that like to dive, drink and chill. We stayed at Scuba Junkie, and snorkeled and dived with them as well. Most of them keep to a very small part of Semporna, the part closest to the water, and didn't have a lot to say about it. If we had more time to prepare, other locations on nearby islands could have been really sweet. On our first day we decided to enjoy some snorkeling, and we jumped on a boat at 8:30am for the island of Sibuan. We were fortunate to have Ewok,

the dive dog accompanying us for the day. Ewok, a rather lucky dog for Malaysian standards loved to spend his day chasing the Sea Gypsy children on the beach at day time, and chasing the female dogs at night. The children loved to tease him, and encouraged him to chase them. Some of these people either inhabit these small islands, or live completely on boats in the area, docking once in a while to sell products of the sea. They were as scared of us as they were of Ewok. It seemed like they just wanted their lives to carry on as they had been for many years. Perhaps pressure from the government to join the world, and let go of old ways makes them nervous. I can't say I blame them, to an outsider they seem to live in paradise. It would be incredible to spend more time with these people. In the morning we did some snorkeling off a white sand beach with clear blue water, swimming past soft and hard corals. Agnes was challenging herself in deep water and was able to check out little Nimos, Parrot fish, symbiotic shrimp and fish, snake fish, even a shark etc, etc. With water temperatures around 30℃, and visibility high it was a great place to explore the underwater world while snorkeling. The second part of the day we snorkeled off the boat over a reef in really clear water. The coral was even better, and the fish even more exciting.

We spend our second day there at Sipadan. Leaving again at 8:30am we stopped to drop some folks off at Mabul Island. Mabul has a resort as well as some home stay options, and would be a great spot to stay while enjoying some diving in the area. With the ocean choppy, our speed dropped as our boatman navigated thru the oncoming waves with confidence. Unfortunately, these waves were to wrought havoc on Agnes for the rest of the day. As I put on my diving gear we could see turtles swimming in the waters around us. Sipadan is the only oceanic island in Malaysia; rising 2,000 feet or 600m from seabed; it was formed by living corals that grew on top of an extinct volcanic cone that took thousands of years to develop (Quoting Wikipedia). For our first dive, we dove at Turtle point - a wall that was littered with corals, fish, nubibranchs, a Broad Club Cuttlefish and of course turtles. Green turtles from a foot in lengh, to the size of small kitchen tables could be seen swimming or resting on the wall's ledges. For our second dive we were dropped off in an area known as Barracuda point. The current was very strong, which made for an interesting dive. Sharks like the fresh strong current, and seeing a Grey shark, and many white tips was really exciting. This spot is also the known for Barracudas. Wow! Lots of Yellow Fin Barracudas, really cool swimming with them as they size you up with that blank stare and big teeth. With the current being so strong it was like being on a ride, just sit back and go with it. A morrey eel or two, Batfish, Giant Travally, Jack Fish and of course loads of turtles. At one point I turned around to see hundreds of small bright blue fish. Quite impossible to keep up with all the different fish with my lack of experience. The third dive was at the Hanging Garden spot, and was spectacular. The water was crystal clear, and the drop off straight down to the dark depths below, felt biggggggg. I saw a big Puffer fish, Red Trigger fish, Dog Tooth Tuna, a sea krait, and a few Unicorn fish and of course loads of turtles, and all the others that I can not identify. No underwater photos, as our camera would not like that so much.

After getting back to Semporna and showering we caught the overnite bus back to KK. We managed to sleep most of the way there, which made the 12hour ride quite painless. Diving at Sipadan has been one of the most incredible things that I have done in my life.



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