Semporna, Malaysia

Trip Start Feb 26, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Malaysia  , Sabah,
Wednesday, September 24, 2008

We got the only bus between Sandakan and Semporna at 8am. It was a five hour drive through nothing but Palm Oil plantations. Borneo used to be covered in rain forest but it has really been ruined by the plantations. I can only describe Semporna as a hole of a place. It is dirty and there is not much to do there as Karl found out when he had to wait around while I was diving all day. The only reason to go to Semporna is to dive around Sipadan. Sipadan is supposed to be one of the best dive sites in the world so I couldn't leave Borneo without seeing it. We decided to stay in Semporna because it was a lot cheaper than going to Mabul Island especially because Karl doesn't dive so he doesn't get the accommodation discounts. 
We found out when we got there that only a certain number of people are allowed to dive around Sipadan each day and it gets booked up months in advance. It's a bit of a pattern here! We haven't booked anything in advance in 7 months of travelling so it is a bit of a shock here. We have been very lucky though and have always managed to get a place. I booked 3 dives for only 80 Euro with Sipadan Scuba. I couldn't go diving the next day so we decided to do a snorkelling trip to one of the other islands. We decided to go to Sibuan because we heard it was a beautiful tiny island with loads of coral around it. Well Sibuan turned out to be a big disappointment. The island is filthy. There is rubbish all over the beach and in the water. There are locals living on the island so you are pestered by kids begging anytime you are on the beach. There was good snorkelling and lots to see when you went past the rubbish. I got to snorkel really close to a turtle which was amazing. I could nearly reach out and touch it. Unfortunately Karl didn't enjoy the snorkelling as much as in the Perhentians. He felt more comfortable in the deeper water. Some parts in Sibuan were too shallow. You could barely swim without touching the coral. Hopefully we will have better snorkelling in Bali and the Gilli islands.
The next morning I was up early to go diving. There were 11 of us on the boat and only 1 dive master. I wasn't too happy about that but most of the other people had been diving for years so they could do there own thing and the dive master could look after the few of us with only Open Water certificates. I still get a bit nervous before the dives but once I'm there I love it. It took nearly 2 hours to get to Sipadan from Semporna. The sea was really rough so I wasn't feeling very well when we finally got there. The dive sites were called Mid Reef, Barracuda Point and Hanging Garden. Barracuda point was the best dive. I saw so many turtles and reef sharks and a large school of barracuda. I saw a lot of turtles and reef sharks on the other 2 sites as well as beautiful coral and hundreds of other fish that I unfortunately don't know the names of. They were definitely the best dives I have done so far. My underwater camera broke so I didn't get any pictures of the turtles and sharks. Most of the others on the trip had cameras and got great pictures. So here are a few I robbed. 

Poor Karl spent most of the day on the internet because there was absolutely nothing else to do. The next morning we got the bus back to Sandakan.
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Where I stayed
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