Finding Nemo

Trip Start Sep 01, 2006
Trip End Aug 31, 2007

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I've spent the last three days in Semporna doing some diving around Palau Mabul and Palau Sipadan (Scuba Junkie). Sipidan was voted the world's number two dive site last year so it's been pretty good.

Sipidan is a national park and limited to 100 people a day so my first day's diving was at Palau Mabul whilst I waited for a permit (in fact I only got onto to Sipidan by pretending to be Sim Pheng from Singapore. I must be a good actor as none of the guards questioned me). I saw loads of big fish, small fish and a few turtles on Mabul.

I also discovered that the dive master was a lunatic. At lunch on the first day we found some sea snakes nesting under the jetty. A bite will kill a man in seven minutes. So what does he do? He starts to encourage it out of hiding by poking it with a stick! Oh yeah. He did eventually get one out - magically without being bitten.

Next was Sipidan. This island is the top of an 800 metre limestone pinnacle which only manages to stick ten metres out of the water. It's pretty impressive. From the beach I could walk ten metres out to sea and be standing on the edge of a near vertical cliff that drops almost a kilometre into the abyss. All of our dives were basically diving down the edge of the cliff and letting the (very strong) current carry us along the wall. I managed to get as far down as 35 metres, which is twice as far as I'm supposed to go with just my open water certificate.

We saw loads of turtles. Some even swam within inches of me. Even better is that I got to swim with a load of sharks too. Most weren't interested in us but few came for a look. One five metre leopard shark was having a snooze on the wall when we came long. It must have found having half a dozen scuba divers staring at it a bit off putting as it decided to make a dash for it. Another one of sharks was swimming straight towards me but then turned away. I gave chase to see if I could catch it but it turns out that sharks are better swimmers than I am. Go figure.

Oh, and I did find Nemo. Orange and white fish on a blue background - easy ;-). Actually, there were quite a few clown fish. Unfortunately I didn't get to see any hammerheads. May be next time.

Tomorrow I'm heading north to a jungle type retreat called Uncle Tan's were I should be able to see everything from elephants and crocodiles to mosquitoes and leeches. Hmm?
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