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Published: September 9th 2007
Well finally left Semporna behind - my initial 3 days of diving extended to 6 days of diving and a week long stay. Ah the freedom of travelling! The reason was simply the diving was so good just couldn't bare to leave.
My return to Semporna was the start of my solo travels but as I have discovered you may arrive alone but you don't remain that way for long and within a day I had made new friends and after a hard days diving it was into Scuba Junkies bar for a bevvie or two and a large pizza with them and on one night an attempt at at a Quiz. With regards to the quiz we didn't win any prizes for our answers but did win based on our team name: Horny Billies........
Had to get used to Dorm life which can be interesting . Over the week there was a constant change over of people in the bunks above or next to me. Some stayed only a night others stayed longer and by the end of a week I started to feel a real old timer. Dorms may be basic (can't expect 5 star luxury for
And All Creatures Small - or in this case microscopic!
3 pounds a night) and you do have to put up with the odd snorer but generally it was good and a good way to meet new people.Still think it is a real shame that Semporna falls a long way short in the picturesque stakes but guess the main reason we are all there was for the diving and after spending all day out on the islands and then most fall asleep early so guess it didn't matter that night life in Semporna was pretty much localised to Scuba Junkie Bar.
Island wise I dived Sipadan two days, Mabul two days and two other islands Sibuan and Matabuan. Sipadan and Mabul were by far the best for diving though Sibuan did show up some interesting little critters like Porcelin Crabs and Mandarin Fish but still feel short of the critter haven that was Mabul.
Over the week had plenty of first sightings for me and that is saying something for someone who has been diving for over 10 years now. And it was definately a case of all creatures great and small with sightings of large Leopard sharks amongst the millions of White and Black Tip Reef Sharks
that accompanied us on every dive at Sipadan and the zillions of turtles (ok slight over exageration but close on)
And then there was the totally opposite end of the size scale with my first Pigmy Seahorse
on Sea Ventures at Mabul. Now a Pigmy Seahorse definately really does live up to the pigmy bit - I went in expecting them to be small but it was plain ridiculous how small they are and if it had not been of a dive guide pointing it out amongst the polyps of the fan I probably never have found it before my air ran out because as the size of our little finger nail and perfectly matching the fan they are perfectly camoflaged. Still think they look like a tiny pink twiglet with a piggy face. But totally cool to finally have seen one.
I quite got into the critter spotting and in some ways liked Mabul better because you got to see more unusual things than on Sipadan - like Leaf Scorpion Fishes and Frogfish. But the most unusual spot was mine and that was a Robust Ghost Pipefish
which looks like a piece of weed but on close
Robust Ghost Pipefish
Honestly it is not a piece of weed!
inspection a small red eye is visible. Still not sure how I saw it in the first place but I did and got the photo (kind of) to prove it!!
Another first for me (and turns out for the dive guides too) was a large ray I spotted towards the end of one of the Sipadan dives and turned out to be a Sweep Ray. Nope not heard of it before either!
All in all had a fantastic 6 days of diving and the weather held out pretty good too so does go to prove that it was our tour guide John's fault it rained on every excursion I did whilst volunteering. Well I should say it didn't rain during the day, the nights were a different matter and it has rained a few times which for some strange reason usually results in the loss of internet access over here!!!! Really wierd - wonder if they need an IT Consultant to hang around and fix it? Tempting with diving on my doorstep!
Whilst here I meet up with a few people and we are heading off up to Uncle Tan's place on the Sungei Kinnabatagn to see
if we can spot the elephants that were excitedly reported by some travellers coming in the other direction. Going to spend a couple of days in the Jungle - I been warned it is going to be basic but sounds like good fun too but the 5.5 hr bus journey to get there doesn't sound all that fun - stock piled snacks and exchanged my now finished reading book for a new one. So next blog will be after my return to the jungle - fingers crossed for elephants.
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