Trip Start Mar 19, 2007
16Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
During my trip I am hoping to visit Nepal & Tibet. There are 3 main ways of getting there from Australia. Flying via Thailand or China or overland India. I have chosen India. Fortunately the flight I bought offered a stop in Malaysia. Unfortunately I had been to Malaysia before and it didn't appeal again. I wanted to give it a wide berth. So wide I would end up in Borneo.
I managed to score another cheap flight with Air Asia.com to Borneo. The wild man of Borneo had always intrigued me and I wondered how he would measure up to the wild man /men of Batley
The flight wasn't until the next day. I didnt have enough time to get to a cheap hotel in Kuala Lumpur (KL) and the waiting time was too long to just kick around all night. The Plush hotels nearby the airport were a couple of stars out of my orbit so I chose to book a room in the airports airside hotel.
You book in Blocks of 6 hours. Unfortunately I miscalculated. I would be getting kicked out at 3.30 am. A time that my renewed calculations told me I would be needing the room the most. I made a mental note to myself. "pretend not to hear knock on door at 3.30am".
The main reason for my side trip was to visit the world famous dive site of Sipidan. An island just off Semporna on south west Sabah. It is not possible to stay on the island but there is budget accom offered by Uncle Chang nearby on the island of Mabul.
Unlce Chang is not my Uncle of course. Infact I have never met the guy. I dont know why he calls himself that, may be he wants to take me to the football or lend ne 20 quid
My flight was delayed by 3 hours and so of course was i. But I got to Semporna ok and checked in at Uncle Changs office. All dives on Sipidan must be booked ahead due to permit restrictions. Only 120 divers are allowed out there per day. I told staff that I must dive on the 24th as it was my birthday. This seemed to throw them into uproar and thye told me there would be a special surprise for me that day. Once again I regretted something I had said.
Semporna was a nothing town and I was glad to get to Mabul isand and Uncle Changs. Uncle Changs is a kind of Long House that has, small dorms and a bar area. Quite well done and I recommend it to any one. It is far better than staying at Semporna. You have less journey time to the Dives and can snorkel or drink Tiger beer to your hearts content.
There was a good crowd at the lodge, from all over the world, New Zealand, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Sweden and of course me . It was like the United Nations of divers and we all got on well. The guy from Belgium sounded too much like inspector Cluesau for my liking and so no matter how serious his conversation topics I could only smile to myself when he spoke
I snorkelled around Mabul to see what was there. In the shallower depths near the long houses there was quite a bit of rubbish. A lot of the coral was dead and some of the debris looked like props from and old fish and chip restaurant on the Yorkshire coast, fish netting, Old bottles, plastic lobsters.......However getting passed that and nearer to a place called paradise point there was lots to see. And to be honest just as good as diving the same place. It was around there that i saw a snow flake eel and a cool little fish sat there amongst the coral. It was almost as it was waiting for me. I later found out it was a poisonous stone fish. I am glad we didnt have that much interaction. So although Mabul doesnt have quite the same reputation as Sipidan there was a bit to be seen. In fact Somem one spotted a whale shark that same day.
The weather was quite overcast and so the famous visibility for the dives was not as good as I expected. There was not as much colour. However the dives at Sipidan were awesome and I hope to have some photos soon. I saw reef sharks (white tip and Grey) and Giant Moray Eels. The Green turtles were so friendly one even invited me home for tea. I think thats what it was saying, its hard to tell down there. There was also huge fan corals, the biggest school of Bump head parrot fish I had ever seen (although i had never actually seen any before) and also Barracudas
Back at the lodge the mysterious Uncle Chang turned up with a couple of cases of rum. My Birthday suprise was that they had baked me a birthday cake and prepared one of Uncle Changs famous Rum parties. The storm that night threatened my party, the lights went out and the power off. But as we downed the rum by candle light it seemed to add a little something.
Later the power was restored and with it came the band. Whilst the resident band (possibly called the chang-ettes) played - every one had a great time drinking and singing the famous Sipidan song. It was penned by the even more famous Nobby Clarke(?) (if you go you will know)
After Diving at Sipidan I set off for the Sepilok. The attraction is the Orangutan rehab centre. After a 4 hour bus ride I found myself at "The jungle resort". Which was not lost in the jungle but lost somewhere between 1976 and 82. May be that is why it's the only rehab place that Robbie Williams hadn't stayed at ?? But it was ok really.
40 ringets gets you a ring side seat at the twice daily feeding area. The Orangutans return for milk (formula powder) and bananas (Lady Fingers). They then put on a show for you - probably better than Robbie or at least on a par.
The cost of your entrance fee goes to the running of the centre which provides a shelter for the indigenous animals that become injured or orphaned in their ever shrinking environments. It must be a good place. I saw a one legged Macaw monkey who looked happy enough and never complained once. Going about his business stopping only to steal some nuts and show his brightly coloured bottom to some Tourists from Japan ....or Korea.
There was also some interesting creatures in my dorm and I shared a shower with a red spotted stag horn beetle. Good job I'm not prudish.
After enjoying the Orangatans I headed off for Kota Kinabalu. I hadn't enough time to trek the mountain but that was my only regret. Tomorrow I leave Borneo and head for Delhi.