The last month back on Mabul has been, again, spent underwater doing another hundred dives!
Some days I feel a bit fed up, sitting in the sun loading tanks onto a boat then rolling into the turquoise sea. Then I remember where I am and what I am doing everyday.
Of course there have been more wonderful creatures to find each day. In the last month, off the jetty alone there has been an eagle ray, numerous robust ghost pipefish (3 different species of them!), ornate ghost pipefish, baby cockatoo waspfish, devil scorpion and flasher scorpion fish, flamboyant cuttlefish, frogfish of all colours and sizes and some amazing nudibranches.
But again, it’s time to leave.
This time to head home for a few weeks!
During July/August, Muslims undertake a month of Ramadan where they do not eat or drink during daylight hours. The end of Ramadan is marked by a 3 day holiday, known as Hari Raya (although officially goes on for a month!).
This is the first time I have seen these celebrations take place. All the local staff dressed up in their fancy clothes for the day (looking a little like silk pyjamas!) each person in a different colour.
Everyone has what is known as an ‘open house’. You can be invited round to visit and are offered cakes, biscuits and cola! I was invited to several houses, so spent much of the day touring around!! In the evening, I headed back to semporna as we had all been invited around for dinner at one of our friends houses!
We were treated to a beautiful sunset across the mountains surrounding the town as we speed-boated back. His house is in one of the water villages. We had to cross over very rickety wooden planks/tree branches(!) to get there and being quite dark you couldn’t really see the plentiful holes! Being an elephant I totally thought I would fall in!!
Once we arrived, we were invited to sit around on the lino floor and were treated to some delicious local dishes! The food was great. His two young (4 and 1 years old) were rather scared of all the white people and just ran away and cried!! Eventually they became a bit more brave and peeked at us around a corner!
Just a week later I felt lucky to be invited to the wedding of another friend! As its a Muslim celebration, much (in fact all) of my clothes were totally unsuitable! So I was treated to a ‘baju malay’! A fancy Malay dress.
We were all dressed up in these dresses – a long tunic top with a floor length skirt underneath. If I thought I was feeling hot wearing shorts and tshirt, nothing compared to this!! The wedding was held in the grounds of a mosque and totally different to any western wedding.
The wedding lasts all day, but we just went to the evening part. The bride and groom sit up on a stage for most of the evening and change outfits no less than 6 times! Each outfit more extravagant than the last, they looked spectacular. There are various performances by different groups, some singers, a couple of different bands and dancers. The bride and groom also perform a money dance, where people go up and place money all over them! The guests, or rather, audience, sit around and watch the show. There are elements similar to weddings that I am more familiar with – they have a tiered cake, complete with little people statues on top! It really was a great wedding!
I have had a wonderful time living in Asia these past 8 months, but looking forward to eating some English food and seeing everyone again. Soon this life will all be a dream.