Borneo - however brief

Trip Start Sep 08, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Scuba Junkie

Flag of Malaysia  , Sabah,
Friday, March 19, 2010

We went to Borneo!

Taking a break from our life in Thai, we hit the road again setting off this time for Malaysia. First stop, the chaos and drunkeness of Paddys Day in Kuala Lumpur (KL) before moving on to the wilderness that is Borneo. A trip of rarities brought about by pure luck, it really was the trip of all trips.

Firstly, it was great to get back exploring. Secondly, it was amazing AND high time to get back diving!   We spent five days in Semporna, a place which doesn't really leave a visitor with much inspiration at all. What it does have is access to 3 islands, Mabul, Kapali and Sipadan. Some of you might have heard of Sipadan, one of the top ten dive sites in the world.  But if you haven't, not to worry, our pix and hopefully this blog will give you an idea of just how idyllic the diving there is. Here we were treated with  sightings of a shaggy frog fish (hard to find), not one but two blue ringed octupus (very rare), and the rarest of rare, a tiger shrimp.  It seemed our luck was holding since missing that typhoon in Vietnam!!

Sipadan was the paradise dive that in our short diving careers we have been longing for.  Why? Well, imagine suspending yourself 30 metres below the surface of the water, alongside the face of what used to be a mountain top wall. Brilliant light coming down on you, the deep darkness of forever below you, white tipped sharks surrounding  you, turtles bored by you, luminescent corals astounding you and all manner of fish intrigued by you.  Like always, words mean very little - just look at the pictures Niall took and hopefully you will get a glimpse of what we experienced.

Above the surface is an entirely different beauty but one that warrants just as much awe and wonder, from colonial towns to jungles to stunning desert islands. We travelled upwards from Semporna to Sandakan, a colonial town that has its own charm but that most people visit to gain access to the Orangutang sanctuary, Sepilok. As amusing and beautiful as the young Orangutans were, it wasn't here that we saw rare and spine tingling sights.  On a jungle trek to the Black Cave, where crazed but well paid workers gather birds nest to take the bird saliva and use it in a very expensive soup, we were confronted with a sight that no sanctuary can offer. The Mac Daddy of Orangutangs, a long haired 30 year old alpha male, happened to be strolling along the jungle edge where we were. After checking us tourists out, not without a look of disdain and possibly even pity, he moved on quietly leaving us gaping in his wake. 

Luck of the irish, I'm telling ya!!!

We moved from here onto Kota Kinabalu, just for one night before flying back to Bangkok via KL.  First impressions, a great little city, one we'd be eager to get back to.  But for now, we have to be content with a month long visit to the most north point of Thailand - Chaing Saen, where I will be teaching locals kids in a summer camp and we both will be enjoying Songkran - the nations New Year festival which last a week and is renowned for the water fights that go along with it. So watch this space, whether wet or dry, more info will soon follow.

Ta for reading.
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