Diving Semporna, day 1

Day 26, Sunday 22 Jan 2012, Semporna

 I am going to start by saying today was pretty awesome !

Very warm dorm room in Semporna,  but I slept OK,  I must be getting the hang of hostel living. Up at 7.00 for what must be one of the better hostel “free” breakfasts, as well as the normal fruit and toast we had boiled eggs, yum. Bread in Borneo – and I am kinda guessing all SE Asia, is white and has as much body as a size zero super model. Unlike NZ, you cannot have a meal based around toast…

The Scuba Junkies shop was full of keen divers and snorkelers when we arrived at 7.45, along with the shop guys, the group going out Sibuan Island had three snorkelers, three dive trainees and Jay and I. It was a 45 minute fast boat to the island and it was beautiful, if the day had been sunny and still you would have said a tropical paradise ! The island is inhabited by twenty families of sea gypsies and they pretty much ignored us when we wandered about between dives taking photos. Our boat

The island is quite narrow.

Soon after we arrived a number of other tour operators turned, including this Malay group,  I was surprised the muslim women swam in their clothes and headdress, I guess it is obvious when you think about it, but it must be dangerous !

From what the dive guys said the sea gypsies are primarily of Philippine origin, but have been in local waters for a long time. As they are not Malay they are not allowed to set foot on the mainland so mainly live on stilt houses off shore. About 10 years ago they were allowed to live on some of the small islands and apply for citizenship, so there are a number of families living on the smaller islands.

We did three dives, all on different reefs around the island, one from shore (left shoulder) and two from the boat (Froggies Blvd) and Hawksbill Highway) . The dives were all around fifty minutes and each dive had a slightly different seascape, therefore some variation in sea life. The highlight was the second dive where we saw two turtles up close and quite a large sea snake swimming in the other direction. Seeing turtles swimming was pretty damn cool ! Along with some pretty awesome coral and a few moray eels, we saw an abundance of fish – too many to remember all the varieties we saw, but at least a tropical fish shop worth. We had a Malay dive master with us and he could spot fish and other life amazingly well, far better than the English guy we would have tomorrow.

We dived till about 3.30 and then had a quick ride back to town for a beer or two and a bit of story telling. Saw this awesome bit of transport on the way back.

I went for an late afternoon walk and saw this guy frantically paddling while sucking down a ciggie. I am (not really) amazed at how many people smoke, ciggies are cheap, 20 for NZD$4 and the majority of men and a lot of boys smoke constantly.

The water is foul here, I cannot believe they swim in it, there is a lot of garbage plus all the garbage. I heard that when they built the fixed jetty here, they started at low tide and then carried on. The boys are sitting on top of it at high tide !

Great day, night not so good, the mattress is made from two pieces of shaved paper I think. I can feel every slat.