My travel blog updates have been rather lacking over the past couple of months.
I have just spent 3 months living on Mabul island in Eastern Sabah, Borneo, having the time of my life.
My days have consisted of diving, eating, diving, drinking, sleeping. Repeat. I have had the great privilege of diving some of the top dive sites in the world, on a daily basis: mabul, kapalai, sipadan, Siamil and sibuan islands.
And I have seen some amazing things – just to name a few….. Flamboyant cuttlefish, Frogfish (from 1 inch long to 1 foot long, with their many clever disguises), Pygmy pipe horses, sea moths, eagle rays, turtles (up to 1.5m long, sometimes as many as 15 on one dive), 3 huge marbled fan tail rays (perfectly circular, majestically gliding along in the water), pygmy squid, various shapes and sizes of nudibranches, shrimps, cuttlefish, pipefish, stone fish, scorpion fish….and maybe all on one dive!
Along with diving everyday, I’ve also spent my time doing several other things….. – partied on a yacht; – learnt to speak (quite a lot!) of Malay; – managed to gain a slight tan (quite a feat for someone so white); – watched and taken part in the release of 4 sets of baby turtles (some hawksbill, some green) – so cute, flapping along the sand to begin their mammoth 5 year journey out in the open ocean before returning to the shallower coral reefs; – fallen through the jetty, cutting up my whole leg, out of the water for 2 weeks and ending up with a huge scar; and – turned blonde.
Semporna is host to the yearly 3 day Lepa Lepa festival, where the Bajau communities from the surrounding area all compete in various, from the best dressed boat, to the best dressed girl. The town is covered from head to toe in a huge sprawling market, with people EVERYWHERE.
On a typical day, semporna is fairly quiet. On a Lepa Lepa day, you can’t move. I went to look at the winners of the boat competition, these boats were the most elaborate of all – draped in gold, red and glittery fabrics and beaded lanterns hanging from the sails – they were beautiful. After many a photo, I noticed a group of important looking men, with tv film crews and armed guards. They turned around and started talking in my direction, after a short while, I realised they were talking to me. Instantly I was surrounded by a circle of cameras and locals wanting a better look at the orang putih! They were lovely and told me all about their time in London, back in the 70’s! I found out afterwards that these men were the president and government of semporna.
After 3 amazing months, now it’s nearly time to leave behind the waters of Semporna and head off for a 2 week enforced holiday. So off to the Philippines, just 11 weeks later than planned!!!