Uncle Chang's and the Misfits

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June 13th 2007
Published: June 13th 2007EDIT THIS ENTRY

13-19 June -- After our eventful jungle trek, we decided on Sipadan island, one of the world's most renowned spots for scuba diving due to its crystal clear waters, volcanic archipellago and abundant aqualife. We arrived early afternoon into Semporna to find a cheap room, do some email and rest up for some serious scuba. We checked into a cheap-o place built on stilts that sat literally on the ocean called the Dragon Inn. We found out later the locals call it the Drag 'em in, since it pulls in and spits out the backpackers, but 15 ringget is good enough for me.

Dive shops abounded in Semporna as all development on the islands is strictly controlled. There are no resorts or hotels even allowed on Sipadan, due to a kidnapping incident with some Filipino pirates and western backpackers 5 years ago, but you are allowed to stay on an island called Mabul, just 45 minutes boat ride away from Sipadan.

We asked around and found Uncle Chang's, the scuba-diving backpacker's dream. Cheap rooms on Mabul, food included, great diving and sure to be a fun scene. The boat to Mabul left early the next morning and as
Volcanic islandsVolcanic islandsVolcanic islands

in the Celebes sea
we sailed out to the Celebes sea, we were surrounded by panoramic scenery of volcanic islands, intensely aqua blue water and lots of other excited divers ready to see it for themselves.

When we pulled up to Uncle Chang's, it was clear this was going to be a fun couple of days. We were greeted by a band of 18 year old local kids banging on drums made of buckets, electric guitars and a sound system; we disembarked, had breakfast, met lots of people and planned the dive schedule.

The water was as warm as the air -- 30 degrees C -- and from the boat we could see lionfish, corals, grouper, bumphead parrotfish, nemos, turtles. It was like going diving in an acquarium. I made it out to Sipadan after a couple of days, as I'm not hugely comfortable with diving (it freaks me out), but it's such an interesting way to see the ocean. After a couple of lessons and getting used to the gear, we headed for a day out to the famous Sipadan.

It's a tiny island, maybe one KM across, sprinkled with powdery white sand. Twenty meters out from shore, the sea floor drops an astounding 600 meters, made up of a coral wall that's bustling with soft and hard coral and even more sea life than Mabul. It was Hammerhead shark season, and while I missed seeing them the group ahead of us saw a school of over 40 sharks.

The divemasters were a bit lackadaisical, even though they were loads of fun, as they did take us down to 30 meters along the drop off. That said, I went on all three dives and was absolutely intoxicated by the most beautiful sights and underwater fantasy land that I ever have seen.

We made lots of friends on the island, including the legendary Uncle Chang who came out on Saturday night with loads of rum and threw a party (he apparently does this every week). That said, the band was out in full force absolutely every night, playing the standard Guns and Roses covers, Extreme, Green Day, loads of really old music till the wee hours. It was a blast, but after five days and lots of diving and snorkeling, it was time to move on. We've got to make our way out of Malaysia and head up to Thailand, as I'm planning on having the big Three-Oh on Kho Tao island.

Next stop is the Perhentian Islands on the east coast of West Malaysia. We took a flight yesterday from Borneo back to Kota Barhu, where I've literally spent the entire day (going on 7 hours) updating my blog, resizing pictures and trying to get up to date with all of my news. Already there's a great group of people staying here at the Ideal Backpacker's Lodge, a Chinese run hostel, and we'll share a cab to the jetty at 5 am tomorrow to head to the Perhentians. Another island adventure!

Additional photos below
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Scuba Jeff!Scuba Jeff!
Scuba Jeff!

Manager extraordinaire of Uncle Chang's, chief rum runner and an undercover cop all rolled into one hysterical package.
Ryan and the bandRyan and the band
Ryan and the band

The amazing thing was how good everyone was. Even the drummer. On buckets!
Jeff and SuzJeff and Suz
Jeff and Suz

True love
Ryan, me and KrisRyan, me and Kris
Ryan, me and Kris

Ryan's an aussie that now lives in Malaysia doing treks up Mt. Kinabalu. A really fun guy!
Local food itemsLocal food items
Local food items

It was for the cats. But what great packaging!

One happy family
Uncle ChangUncle Chang
Uncle Chang

Hear him roar!

21st June 2007

what an incredible lot
of experiences am so jealous pictures are so great to watch they are all great specially the pics of u 2 girls cos u look so hot cant read the text though
24th June 2007

i agree with george
lol...it's been fun reading all these entries, hadn't realized at first that you were going to head to southeast asia, too i'm leaving my job in late september and will join the bandwagon, will be traveling the world myself for a year or so once i leave the country. keep going long enough on your travels and perhaps we'll cross paths!
24th June 2007

last message
rwf = richard :)
19th September 2007

hi, i am glad u have fun at mabul. i miss home so much. i grab few of your pic. hope u dont mind.

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