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Published: July 12th 2009
(Day 447 on the road)
From Brunei, we decided to take the overland (read: hitchhikers) route to Kota Kinabalu, or KK as everyone calls it, in Malaysia's eastern Sabah province. This turned out to be a little more complicated than anticipated and involved a total of seven different cars (and more than six hours on the road), all taking us a little further towards our destination. Still, as always in Malaysia, hitching was easy enough and we never had to wait longer than a few minutes for a car to stop. Plus we were riding with a few real characters again, amongst them an ex Brunei-Army helicopter pilot and a friendly Chinese family with three kids on vacation.
Kota Kinabalu (KK) however was nothing more than a stop-over point for us on our way to the world famous diving spot of Sipadan, down on the south-east coast of Sabah. We spent a day and a half getting organised (some essential shopping, posting some stuff home, spending time on the Internet), before hitching a ride to the airport to catch our next flight.
Airport security at Kota Kinabalu was existing, but close to 100%!i(MISSING)neffective. On both luggage scanners that we
hat to put our luggage through, nobody was actually checking the monitors that showed the contents of our bags - they were way too busy doing something else. The first check was particularly good as it was very Asian in a way - follow the rules, but do it your own way - making the whole process a joke in effect: The woman that was supposed to monitor the contents of the luggage was busy peeling off the security stickers that went on the luggage indicating that the bag had been screened by her machine. What a joke.
Considering all the hassle for the passengers of these air travel security checks, the supposed benefit of all these measures (not just here in KK but in Malaysia in general) is close to zero. In fact, on a flight we took two weeks ago we had no problem taking Karen's big pocket knife onto the plane in our hand-luggage - again, the luggage was screened but they didn't check the screens of the scanning machine.
After arriving in Semporna, the town closest to Sipadan Island, we spent a day boat diving near the island of Mabul, which was nice but
not as great as expected. But the next day it was finally time to dive Sipadan! Sipadan
is a small island rising some 600 metres from the ocean floor, and the sheer underwater wall of the island is the centre of one of the richest marine habitats in the world, with more than 3000 species of fish and hundreds of types of corals. Dive spots here are severely restricted to protect the fragile ocean environment, but we had been lucky to reserve our spots only one month in advance.
The three dives we made at Sipadan were great, and we saw lots and lots of giant turtles and sharks, mostly blacktips and whitetips. Visibility however was not too impressive, but the sheer abundance of life under water more than made up for it. I especially enjoyed swimming really close with the many turtles, who are not afraid of divers at all!
Well, and this ended my time in Borneo. From Semporna we hitched to the airport again to catch a plane back to Kota Kinabalu, from where we would catch another two flights first to Manila and then to Puerto Princesa in the Palawan island group of the Philippines. Bye bye Borneo. Or so I thought...
Next stop: Puerto Princesa (Palawan, Philippines).
To view my photos, have a look at pictures.beiske.com
. And to read the full account of my journey, have a look at the complete book about my trip at Amazon
(and most other online book shops).
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