Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sabah Adventure - Time For Diving!!!

After the 1st week of mostly land activities (rain excluded) and loads of walking, it was time to change gear and get in touch with the ocean. Sun, sand, sea - 3 of my favourite words. Afterall, I'm a beach babe kinda person! Throw me at a beach/sea anytime!!
Our next stop was Uncle Chang. It took us sometime to find the office @ Semporna (hidden next to the entry to Dragon Inn) and then it was a long wait for the boat to depart. Well due to the fact that we were waiting for 1 Swiss to withdraw money, so it was about 1hr wait for us, under the HOT HOT SUN!!About 30 mins later, we approached Uncle Chang's diving center, at Mabul Island. It is constructed out towards the sea on stilts. Nice and simple, rustic wooden accomodation for which we paid RM60 per pax per night (include all meals). Lucky us that we booked WAYYY in advance cos the rate went up to RM70 when we checked in. Also, the diving rates went way up as well! Note of advice, if you want to dive with Uncle Chang and want to go Sipadan, book months ahead for your spot. If not, u will end with no spots or wait a few days or 1 week for an empty spot (which was what some travellers were doing - wait wait wait). We paid RM560 for Sipadan dive (3 include eqpt), and it went up to RM640 when we checked in!We checked into a dorm room of 4, but we had no roomie so we had the room to ourselves! Went to explore what little there is of Mabul island..Which is not much.
We had to walk along broken planks to the end, it was rather scary as they don't look particularly steady
There was a jamming & singing performance on our 2nd night there. The singer was not too bad, and he even sang Mandarin and Cantonese songs!! All based on written phonetics though..1st diving day we went to Sibuan and Mantabuan. Very very far away and took us 1hr to get there, after departing late as well (no surprise). Sibuan island was amazing! Small with white sandy beach. There is a very small village on the island. It felt like a secluded island getaway. Like! It was RM300 to dive there, more expensive as you need to get permit. Edric was the only non-diver in our group, so he went snorkelling for RM150.
Me @ Sibuan. It's small but i like the island
Had a little time to walk around the island a little bit, under the sorching hot sun...
And of cos time for some photo taking on the beach...
One of the must do beach photo - True StoryDouble whammy of handstands!Split in the air..Chicken feet!
And here we go..Jumping again
Did 1 dive @ Sibuan and 2 dives @ Mantabuan. Micro-diving so all the small things. Lots of nudibranch though...
Water was slightly chilly but manageable. Photos of the marine life!
Perfect photo captured in a snap! Seems like he's hanging for his dear life
Can u see what I'm seeing? It's a squid
It was more interesting @ Mantabuan, though the Mantabuan island is nothing to shut about.. And of cos, we saw turtles!!!
Huge Turtle!!Blue Spotted Stingray! They catch this and sell it for RM2 each!! Yes, the boatman comes to Uncle Chang every morning!

Poor Edric, snorkelling was abit shit there! And he only snorkelled twice, sitting out the third. And by the time he was done with the 1st snorkel, his bad was burnt badly!

2nd day - the BIG event - SIpadan!! Was there in 2009 and was amazed by the clear water and marine life! Was looking forward to it. However, the day didnt start out well as it was cloudly and loomed of rainy weather. It didn't really rained though and the weather kinda improved a little and was sunny by the 2nd/3rd dive.As usual, we had to get down to register. Limited permits given out each day so everyone has to fight for it!I think Sipadan island was much nicer in 2009.. Now, seems like not so nice. Maybe I've seen much better beaches/island, maybe Sibuan was too amazing..But just didn't get that 'wow' factor now.
There used to be a big board that says Sipadan on the beach but now it's goneYou know me, I Flashed Sipadan..And then I jumped
Poor Edric's red back..It started peeling badly a few days later...
We went to South Point, Barracuda Point, and Turtle cave.South Point started out not bad..Saw turtles, sharks (reef sharks) and they were everywhere that by the 3rd/4th, it was like 'oh hi turtle, oh hi shark'. Still I chased them to capture them screen.
I've always wanted to do that!
Our DM was Jay and he is one funny guy. Lots of stunts from him. After south point, we sat in boat while they were trying to find barracudas and jackfish. Amazed by the boatmen's sights, they can just see the fish from above and spot where they are! @ Barracuda point, we met with a big school of barracuda swimming past! No twirling barracuda but at least we saw them..
Attempting to get swallow the little creature hehehe
Surfing on fins under water
Then, it was jack fish spotting! It was a BIG school!! When the boat man spotted them, immediately we asked Edric to jump in (only snorkeller, no need to gear up) and he did! We followed in with our tanks and wow! Amazing!! Surrounded by them
I have jack fish on my mind....
Then we swam towards turtle cave. Totally had no intention of going in the 1st place, hence no one had torch. LUckily, one of the divers had 1 tiny torch. Better than nothing. Nothing much to see, but it was just really exciting to swim into a dark dark cave, where you literally can't see a thing!
That's the cave entrance, marked by skulss of turtles
And when we came back out, the jack fish were still there!
That's edric diving down for like 5sec to get a shot like this!
Edric got a 10min diving lesson from his SM (Snorkelling master). He put on the gear and went diving to 1.5m for a bit.. Hehe, now he can say he dived in Sipadan!
Edric in his scuba gear just under water..haha
How was Sipadan? It was good, really good! For someone who has not dived often, it is really good. JJ loved it. But for me, I think I was and still am slightly disappointed. Maybe because it was sooo good in 2009. We saw a lot more things, the visibility was alot clearer. And I guess it was the 1st time wow factor. We were in a school of moving parrot fish for almost 5mins!! That was amazing! And the turtles we saw were bigger. I even saw a manta ray! But still, Sipadan is a must go! Before it gets worse....

If you have time, spend a few days diving. If you don't and just want to go Sipadan, Uncle Chang offers 1 day booking. Alot of other operators require you to dive at least 2-3 days with them before they give you a Sipadan permit, and that is just 1. With Uncle Chang, as long as you book wayyy in advance, you can book more than 1 day of Sipadan, or you can just dive 1 day Sipadan with them!

We had a small episode on our way back to mainland. Well not us, but Chinese on board our boat. Our departure time was delayed from 430pm to almost after 530pm. And because a group of divers were not back yet. And the group of Chinese waiting were getting real impatient and angry, and started complaining about them. And when that group came back, they were dilly dallying, taking photos etc etc, wasting our time and that pissed off the group of Chinese waiting. FYI, both are Chinese. Then the group waiting started to vent their anger and they started quarelling on the boat. The whole thing was quite amusing actually. Then Caucasian couple on board got pissed off that the BF shouted at them "Fuck off, just go". It would probably make several hits if it were taped and posted on youtube!

After 2 days of relaxing, it was off to Maliau Basin, the Lost World Of Sabah.....

1 comment:

framichele said...

So nice pictures! I am not a diver, but want to go for snorkeling to some of that islands next January...