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Semporna

Most Amazing Scuba Diving Yet!

rain 32 °C

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In reality the events in this post took place over 10 days ago (not gonna beat a dead horse and tell you how shitty the NET is here... just did...) so I better get caught up before my memory fades. More likely what seems to happen though is that our great memories or experiences rather, get pushed aside to make room for new events and memories. We just got back from Java after a long ass day of travelling via bus (probably one of our most painful rides to date - 12 hours), but got to see something that we will never see again on this trip... volcanoes... active volcanoes!

From Sandakan we parted ways from our German friends who headed off to take in a river safari, and Stacey and I headed off to the East Coast and the city of Semporna. Not much to see or do in the small city but we had to arrive in the early afternoon so we could hunt for a scuba diving deal and arrange details for the following day. For those of you not aware Semporna is the gateway to Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai Islands which are home to some of the best diving in the world! We quickly found ourselves a hotel room and dive shop, both of course at good prices. Then we had the rest of the day to kill...

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Thats a traditional Borneo Longhouse which is now converted into a hotel or it could have just been built to copy the style I suppose. Anyways it housed a fish farm where we killed a bit of time... until it started pouring...

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Ya not that exciting of stuff... but thats not why we went to Semporna.... so on to the diving!! We left early the next morning via boat and made way for Mabul Island where we would spend the day diving... 3 dives in all (which is a lot for us in a day).

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The scenery was so beautiful but there's something that I need to comment on: First of all let me just say that the garbage situation in Asia is at best terrible! Granted some places are better than others (and Japan is NOT included in this rant), but for the most part it's really bad everywhere. I am also aware that oceans are international and that garbage can move around, but for the most part garbage remains near the coast in which it came from. That being said the garbage in the water around Semporna was just atrocious! To be honest it really took away from our experience seeing plastic debris and bottles every couple of meters floating in the water. It really brings to light the state of our oceans. Just terrible. Most of the coastal regions we've visited have been just rocked by garbage. I'm not a saint myself when it comes to recycling etc, and I'm not preaching either, I'm merely just commenting on how bad it is. It's impossible to ignore. If I could make one simple suggestion it would be education. Educate the people so that they at least know the consequences of their actions (this is not 100% effective but it would definitely help). I couldn't even begin to count how many times I've seen people littering in Asia, even within feet of a garbage can. For example that fish farm we visited, littered with garbage. Nothing like seeing the turtles eating plastic wrappers. I watched I young kid take his chip bag and just throw it into the enclosure, with his parents looking on approvingly of course. Again I'm not some sort of advocate and I'm definitely not perfect myself, but witnessing what a problem it is has made me look at myself and promise to make changes in my life and at the very least TRY to make a difference.

We saw a few interesting sights along our boat ride. The first was the story-tale desert island...

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Not much but a sand bar with a few scattered palm trees. The second was the Sea Adventures Diving Rig...

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It's the only oil rig in the world thats been converted into a dive shop/hotel. Pretty neat. We arrived on Mabul, had some lunch and then hit the water for our first dive.

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So again I must apologize (more to myself then anyone else) that we do not have an underwater camera and are unable to take pictures while diving. :( My God was it ever amazing!! I never thought I would see anything so spectacular. It was like a whole other world... like Avatar or something lol. And we seen everything!! Massive Moray eels, seahorses, hawk-billed turtles, sea snakes, massive grouper fish, blue spotted stingrays, jelly fish, clown fish, and on and on and on. I pulled a bunch of pictures off the NET that were taken at Mabul and Sipadan so you can understand some of swhat we saw...

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Just amazing! Diving off Semporna by far trumped any other dive sites thus far on our trip. Words can't explain it. We have both just fallen in love with diving and I know that it will be something that we can both enjoy for the rest of our lives. After three of the most unreal dives we headed back to the mainland...

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The next day we caught a bus all the way back to the west coast of Sabah where we spent another night in Kota Kinabalu, which was where we were catching our flight out to Bali Indonesia the next day.

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Coffee before the plane...

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And that my friends concludes Sabah Borneo and our time in Malaysia! Such a highlight of our trip and will no doubt forever remain a great memory for the rest of our lives. It's hard to explain, but it was just one of those "places". Everyone has one. You know, just a place you travel that's thrilling and refreshing while still maintaining that comfortable feeling like your never too far away from home. It was just such a special place and I hope that it remains relatively untouched by tourism, which is of course I know impossible for a place as exhilarating as this. For anyone considering going to Borneo... GO! You'll be glad you did. I know that we'll be patting ourselves on the back about this detour for years to come!

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Posted by ttbwarren 04.03.2012 19:36 Archived in Malaysia

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