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Published: November 6th 2008
Friday morning we were up early again! At 6.40am we got a taxi to the bus station to get the 7.30am bus to Semporna, a journey which should take 5 and a half hours (not too bad). The bus was a little bit past its best with a window smashed at the back and a few broken seats, but this is nothing new for Asia. We set off on time (which is quite rare) and the journey seemed to be going well when we stopped at a cafe at around 10.30am for what we thought was a rest stop. After half an hour we were told that they were fixing the bus - great! Anyway, we set off again and thought nothing more of it.....
Until 45 minutes later when the bus stopped again! This time we were at a Shell garage, so we stocked up on some sweets to keep us occupied while the driver tried to hitch a ride to a place where he could get the part he needed for the bus!! We didn't mind the waiting too much but it was raining and when the engine stopped so did the aircon, which turned
the bus into a mobile greenhouse - well, maybe not so mobile!! After an hour and a half the driver arrived back with the new part which he fitted pretty quickly and off we went again - yay! Fifteen minutes later guess what.....
We heard a loud crack then the bus pulled over. This time in the middle of nowhere! All we could hear was the driver shouting "scrappy, scrappy" which we took as bad news! Anyway, they called for another bus to come and pick us up so all we could do was sit and wait - AGAIN! Luckily we weren't the only English people on the bus - there was a group of four lads and a couple (Jimmy and Kelly) who we spent the next two days with. All of us had climbed the mountain on the same day as well.
After two hours a new bus came and saved us, and we eventually got to Semporna at 6.30pm - only 11 hours after we left Sandakan!
That night we went for a well deserved beer with Jimmy and Kelly, then to bed.
The next day the four of us chartered our own
boat to the island of Sibuan, which is famous for macro-diving but also brilliant for snorkeling. The boat cost us 250 ringgits which is about 45 quid - not bad to have your own boat for the day!
When we began to approach the island the water became clearer and clearer and we could see the white sand and palm trees - paradise! It wasn't very big at all and had no shops or toilets (so you had to make sure you brought plenty of water and didn't need a wee!). People did live on the island though, in little huts that looked like they would have blown down in the wind! People on the island farmed sea urchins and there were women dotted along the water's edge collecting the spiny creatures. They had heavy duty gloves on and were splitting them open to get the meaty bit out of the middle, ready to hang up to dry and eat later! (See pic).
There were also some soldiers from the Malaysian army stationed on the island, to protect tourists from the pirates who have been known to hijack boats (no lie!). They were very bored and appreciated chatting
to us for a while.
The Malaysian locals who had come to the island for the day were hilarious, all splashing around in the sea fully clothed! Who knows what that was all about. Mind you, I bet they didn't get sun burnt like we did. Maybe we're missing a trick there!
The reef starts right off the beach. This meant that it was quite hard to swim out at first, as the water is shallow and there is lots of coral. Marissa found out very quickly that coral is hard and hurts when you bump into it - cut knee - ouch! (Oh, and we later found out that i's poisonous too! As if the pain's not enough!).
We saw loads of fish including a few Nemos! It was just like swimming in a tropical fish tank! It was mad because when you swam past certain types of coral and the clams, they would close up, obviously scared of us big humans. Jimmy had an underwater camera so we managed get some top pics! Our mission for the day was to see some turtles, but unfortunately our mission was not accomplished. Never mind, it was still
an amazing day!
We left the island around 4pm and the four of us went out for tea to a place called Turtle Tomb Cafe which were told did "the best food in town". It was just a guy set up outside the cafe with a BBQ cooking fresh prawns and marlin - yum! We had a big plate of food all for under 4 quid, then played poker til late, where we lost both games - damn!
Next morning we all had breakfast and went our separate ways, as we had to catch the first of two flights in two days.
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