Malaysian Borneo: Diving Mabul and Sipadan

From River Kinabatangan we had a pretty easy journey down to Semporna (where we were heading to Scubadive).

The driver who had collected us from Sepilok, took us from the river to a lay by on one of the main roads where ‘his friend’ one of the local coach drivers picked us up on the local bus which was going to Semporna. This took about 4-5 hours.

When we arrived in Semporna, our main mission was to go and try to find Sipadan diving passes. If you have researched anything about Sipadan you’ll probably know these are pretty difficult to find, and there are loads of rumours about certain dive shops and whether the passes are legitimate or not. Also most of the diving passes come with accommodation packages as well, so anyway it was all a bit of a nightmare trying to arrange.

So we set off from the bus, sticky, sweaty, tired….the usual! and now semporna is not exactly the most glamorous of places which surprised us considering its the gateway to one of the most highly regarded dive spots in the world. There is a lot of poverty and as soon as we started walking through the town young children were clawing at us for anything, even the water I was drinking.

We traipsed around a load of the dive shops and eventually decided what to do….I won’t go into every boring detail but in the couple hours of walking back and forth we had to go through a fish market and by the harbor, anyway I started to feel really rough and starting throwing up on the side of the street. Danielle was really good, and checked me into the closest hotel which had a private bathroom sent me upstairs and carried on sorting out booking the diving trip! I was pretty useless in all of this.

But the next day we headed off to the island of Mabul where we were staying in the ScubaJunkie resort for three nights. Luckily I was feeling a bit better, and it was my 26th Birthday woop! I was too ill to dive that day but we just chilled out which was nice.

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So the next day we started our PADI Advanced open water course. We wern’t really planning on doing this but as we really wanted to enjoy Sipadan it was recommended as its quite a deep dive (with the open water you can only go to 18m but with the advanced you can go to 40m).

Our instructor Phil was really great, and again we were lucky as it was just the two of us in the group. In this course you learn a lot more about buoyancy, getting your weight right, navigation and you get to pick a couple of specific dives. We picked the night dive and drift dive. The night dive was terrifying and I almost had a panic when we first went into the water, but I clung to Danielle the whole time and survived!

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After three nights, when the course was finished we went back to Semporna and stayed in a hostel for a couple of nights.

We had managed to find a Sipadan pass but not with accommodation which meant we had to stay in Semporna and get the boat from there. The company we used were a ‘local’ company, so run by Malaysians. A lot of the dive shops are run by Chinese, Brits, Americans. It was really good, a tad dis-organised but all the equipment was decent! and we had a great guide who spoke really good English.

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From one of the most beautiful (underwater) places in the world to Kuala Lumpur. Follow us on the last part of our amazing journey. 

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Indonesia: Bali – Uluwatu – Seminyak

Hello Asia!

Uluwatu 

We arrived into Bali’s capital from Cairns (check out our last posts for Australia East-Coast) pretty late so were keen to get on with our hours journey to Uluwatu.  And evidently half of the Balinese taxi drivers were keen to take us…For a small fortune of course. At first we tried to get an uber but later realised they cannot get into the airport so had to go with one of the guys waiting outside. *

*Note uber is only effective in certain areas of Bali, it’s pretty taboo in general and the local taxi drivers will tell you it’s illegal. We will try and highlight where it’s good to use.

So back to the airport taxi drivers; after being hassled and heckled we finally managed to  barter one of the drivers down to 150,000 IDR (approx £9). This is about reasonable, they’re starting prices are crazy! Don’t accept straight away.

When we got to our hotel there was no one at reception…as it was about midnight we started invisigioning a night on the benches. Luckily about 20mins later a man showed up on his moped and we sucsessfully checked in after a few communication issues. Sleep time!

Next day we wondered around and had our first Indonesian coffee…interesting experience. Try it once, then look out for the machines!  We hired a moped in the afternoon and drove to the Uluwatu temple. Definitely go do this if your in Uluwatu it’s a good cultural visit, and you can experience the local monkeys. We had the moped the next day too so drove to the beach (1000 IDR entry fee) and had a little swim. Unfortunately we wernt in the right season for surfing but normally it’s a good surf spot.

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In the afternoon we ordered an uber*successful*to get to our hotel in Seminyak, this cost 120,000 IDR and we had a really nice taxi driver from Java so he gave us some tips for what to do there.

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Our hotel in Seminyak was nice and we went to a local restaurant for dinner that night, good food but tiny portions. *

In the morning we hired a moped and took the obligatory trip to Potato Head Beach Club. This took us a lot longer than anticipated as the location on Google maps is incorrect, look out for the Alia hotel and you will find it more easily!  When we eventually arrived we ordered a cocktail (mocktail for Danielle) which was beaut, just watch out for the price tag, London not Indonesian.

 

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Check out our next trip where we explore Ubud and the Monkey forest.