Tuesday, March 15, 2011

20110228 Sabah – Semporna & Sipadan Island

Sipadan Island, a world renowned diving spot, attracts lots of divers throughout the years. Here, I came.

The small town Semporna has become the hub of all scuba operators for activities around the adjacent islands. The nearest Tawau Airport was 1.5 hr drive away. No shuttle bus prevailed. The tourist traffic is relatively low and majority is foreigners, probably this explains why the private transportation companies charged fairly high price.

The town was small but all basic facilities were available. Most places were within walking distance. All luxury exclusive hotels set their base on the islands (except Sipadan) while the economic options were found on the mainland.

Walking around, I was upset by the dirtiness which could hardly be linked to tourist spot. Rubbish floated on the shore - even at the resort, the pungent stinky rotten sea products smell enveloped the jetty and market. The empty broken seashells were disposed right back to the sea. I asked around, why as such? There were many floating villages along the shore, accommodated mostly the early stage immigrants from Philippines and fishermen. The sanitary system and dumping area were not well planned and enforced. Environment conscience evidently was not fostered. The rubbish and discharge were poured into the sea habitually, sadly.

I liked the small town feel, kinda fun and nostalgic to move around seeing the old-fashioned buildings. Don’t miss the visit to the floating villages. No permission was needed, people might throw curious eyes to the foreigners but a smile said it all, was a beautiful place for photographing. Be aware not to step on the missing or broken plank wood on the platform. You wouldn’t be able to recover your slippers or any.

Foods were so-so, alcoholic beverage was fairly cheap. KaraOK and bars were available, but in general the entertainment was quite dull.

02-Mar, heavy rain pour started in the midnight, luckily it turned drizzling around 8am but the thick dark clouds still hung low in the sky. Boat departed at 9am, 7 divers with 2 dive masters, 1 hr chilly journey to Sipadan island on the fairly rough sea. 3 dives to be arranged on this day.

Frankly I had forgotten a few procedures as my last dive was done exactly 2 years ago, no big deal. The first 2 dives at “White Tip Avenue” and “Barracuda Point” were not special. Water was a bit milky due to overnight rain. Not much big fishes, many turtles and white-tip sharks. Disappointed for not seeing school of barracudas (was said easy to find at this spot). The last dive, we were led to the famous “Turtle Cave”, but only allowed to stay at the entrance. Was fun, first kind of my experience. Best of all, school of jacks around us! The most amazing dive I ever had!

There are several other islands in this area (e.g. Mataking, Mabul, Pom Pom) worth exploring too.