The last 3 days have been totally fantastic! We left on monday at about half 8, the 5 hour drive was fairly uneventful (by Malaysian driving standards!) and we arrived in a very rainy Semporna by 2. From there we took the boat to Mabul. It was really windy and we all got completely soaked. Several people (not naming any names) were really hungover from the previous nights antics but fortunately everyone managed to keep down their lunch of crisps, chocolate and coke. It took about an hour to get to Mabul, we landed at the homestay which was right at the edge of a water village and were shown to our rooms, they're pretty basic - just a matress on the floor but comfortable and the place had a really friendly atmosphere!
After we'd dryed off we walked through the little town to the resort on the other side of the island - all the locals were really friendly and all the children said hello as we went past! We walked by lots of little stalls selling fruit or sweets and some selling shells and jewellery. We went along the boardwalk to the bar at the resort where I had a fresh honeydew juice - it was really good! Then we walked by stopping off at the shop where Katie and I got some cheap board shorts. It was getting dark when we walked back and the 2 of us did get a bit lost, but only for about 15 minutes!
After dinner we pretty much went straight to bed (at about 8!) I slept pretty well even though the building swayed in the wind! The next day we got up early - the snorkellers left for Sipadan at 7 and even before that we were woken up by next doors chickens! Fiona, Jen, Katie, Annabel and I were all diving so we set out quite early to find out what time we needed to be there. When we got there they said they had no room for us today but we were going to do all 3 dives tomorrow. So we wandered over to the other side of the island and went snorkelling, even near the shore there were so many fish, very ominous looking black urchins, star fish and we even saw a mantis shrimp! At 12 we went back for lunch, but went back at 2. Annabel and I swam out rather than jumping off the pier but got stung by lots of tiny jellyfish, it just felt like wasp sting and didn't hurt for long though!
After the first day everyone was so brown despite it being really overcast, everyone except me that is! Apparently I'm just going to stay pale (and interesting).
Another early night (about half 9 this time! pushing the boat out!) as we didn't really know what time we were leaving to go diving the next day!
On Wednesday Jen and Fiona went to find out what time we were leaving, we had to be there by 7 so it was another early start! We got our kit together and left at around half 7. Jen hired an underwater camera and put her memory card in it - she got some fantastic pictures! In the morning we had 2 dives off Sipadan, Katie had never dived before and Annabel not for 10 years so they did 2 introductory dives so we weren't all together. The dives were incredible and the water was literally teeming with Green Turtles, we saw dozens of them! They were so graceful in the water, I'm not a great diver at the best of times but I felt very clumsy indeed next to them! A
Barracuda and a White tipped Shark came up for a closer inspection (we speculated later that it was possibly due to my nose bleeds) and we saw some amazingly coloured Nudibranchs!
After the first dive we stopped for an hour on Sipadan and had a snack of Nice biscuits and peanut butter - good combo! I was talking to the dive master and it turned out that he'd been working at Shamwari the year before me! It was really cool to talk about all the rangers we knew (and Louie!).
The next dive took us to Barracuda point, it was soon obvious why it was called that when we swam past a school of hundreds of Barracuda!
We were back on Mabul for about half 12 so we got some lunch, Fiona, Jen and I had to be back for 2 for our last dive, we weren't going far as we had to leave the island by 4, so we went to an artificial reef off Mabul, it was another fantastic dive, we saw 2 more turtles resting on the sea bed aswell! It was quite eerie though with Jack Fish swimming inside the sunken house! 3 nose bleeds later - apparently some peoples noses just bleed when they dive :S we left Mabul and took a shorter much calmer boat trip back to Semporna - the sun even came out! John was waiting for us when we got there and we got back in good time! It was such a fantastic trip! Although I did feel homesick for the Rest House and Amoi's cooking! Which will continue for 9 days as Selina, Annabel and I are flying to KK to work at the Rasa Ria today! Will update when I get back!