The Sockeyed Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘diving

Marooned on Mabul

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I just finished a one hour journey from the island of Mabul to the mainland in a bathtub. Well, it might not have actually been a bathtub, but it really wasn’t much bigger. The engine was big (for the boat) and we went like a rocket. The sky was unbelievably vast and layered and colourful as the sun went down to our left.

So why was I in a bathtub? Well, I’ve spent the last two nights on the wonderful island of Mabul, and hour from Semporna by boat or bathtub. The island is small – maybe a kilometre across, but it does have a population of locals. It turns out they’re ethnically Filipino and speak Sulok or Suluk, and are almost all Muslim, at least in principle. They live in elevated wooden houses – some out over the water, and some elevated on land. They are very fruitful, like the Malays in their kampungs; there are kids everywhere! Lovely little black-haired and chocolate-skinned little tykes. They pass their days playing games like hide n’ seek or tossing coins, or swimming (who could resist jumping off one’s front porch?), or sometimes running errands or taking care of younger ones. They LOVE having their pictures taken and yell “looks! looks!” afterwards, but I have to disappoint them since I’m shooting film, not digital. They likely consider me a Luddite.

I stayed in great, simple guest house over the water. For Rm50 a day ($17), I got lodgings and three squares, which were quite tasty: rice and chicken or fish. Dinner usually had a veg, too – eggplant and green beans last night. I spent a lot of time just relaxing, watching life go by on the water, and reading, or grabbing my cameras for a stroll around the village. “Hello!” “Looks! Looks!”

Oh yes, back to the bathtub. So, I had made arrangements yesterday to be picked up at 9am on the dock for a day of snorkeling, but the boat never showed up. I like the island, though, so I didn’t cringe at the idea of spending another day there. Plus there was great snorkeling off the dock and I had all the gear with me. At the end of the day, I waited for the boat to swing by and pick me up, but it never came. I could see the island where it would sail from on my left, and Samporna was off to my right. But no boat came to the guest house to get me. Apparently this isn’t the first time it has happened. So the co-owner of the place went and got a motor and put it on his bathtub-sized boat. The other owner assured me that it was quite new and not to worry. The motor seemed to be missing its propeller, so that was located and off we went. The trip, as mentioned, was gorgeous. Flying fish leaped out of the water, birds dove to the water, giant frigate birds flew overhead, and the sky itself was wonderful to look at.

I’m here in Semporna for another day, then I head to Kuala Lumpur tomorrow evening. On friday morning I’ll meet Jeremy in the airport (he’s flying out from Kuching), and we’ll head to Siem Reap in Cambodia. I’ll be there for the next week for the Angkor Photography Festival, then I’ll fly back to Vancouver to impress everyone with my tan.

Written by sockeyed

November 22, 2006 at 11:27

Posted in Photography, Travel

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Palau Sipadan

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I just got in from three dives out on Palau Sipadan, a stunning little nub that sticks straight up form the deep, deep ocean. There are coral and sand plateaus, then walls full of the most amazing sea life. We saw many turtles, white-tipped sharks, nemos, a lion fish, a morey eel, a trigger fish that bit my fin, and many others. There were times that you’d look around and there would be literally thousands of gorgeous fish swimming in all directions around you. It seemed that there were more fish than water! And the coral is gorgeous – wonderful multi-coloured fans and mushrooms, hard and soft stuff. We also watched the turtles parked in cleaning stations, getting a good going-over by fish.

I got a bit panicked during my first dive – not used to the regulator, mask fogging up, etc. By the second and certainly by the third things were well in hand. I felt much more relaxed and just drifted along the wall, stopping to look when things got interesting. My last dive was 46 minutes, and I still had a lot of air in my tank.

Tomorrow we head out to Sipadan again, and I’ve decided to spend the next two nights on a tiny island called Mabul, not far from Sipadan. There is a local population there and two resorts, but not much to do, which is fine with me! I’ve got some good books. The place I’ll be staying, described as fine but basic, costs RM50 a day, or about $17, and that includes meals! The dive boat will swing by and pick me up in the morning.

Many folks here live in stilt houses over the water, some really far from land (shallow spots?). Kids love to swim here, so every evening the waterfront is full of young ‘uns leaping into the water. Great fish market here in Semporna, too. Lots to photograph!

Written by sockeyed

November 19, 2006 at 10:37