Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the weird sentences and the funny mistakes that could have been generated during the process. If you can read French, the original and correct version can be found here:
To dive in Sipadan and on the bottoms of the neighboring islands (Mabul, Kapalai, Sibuan ...) you have to go to Semporna, southeastern port of Malaysian territory in Borneo.
I estimate the journey from Sandakan about 4-5 hours away. I was right. The Jungle Resort is not at all in focus, question transport ... The type of reception is not sure if there is a bus. If there is one, he told me the day before, I have to be at the bus station very early.
The hypothetical bus is likely to leave around 7am, maybe 8am. Even 9am at the latest, he assures me. It can still arrange transportation to the bus station by taxi. Good.
On my back, a young English couple follows the conversation with interest. They too want to go to Semporna. We decide to share the taxi to the bus station. Appointment before dawn, at 5:30, in the parking lot of the Jungle Resort.
Breakfast at the bus station
An hour later, we are at the famous bus station, with its usual small food stalls, where the Malays swallow portions of nasi lemak (fried rice, anchovies, spicy chicken and red bean sauce) for breakfast We inquire right and left ... "No bus, only this car »a guy tells us, pointing to a rotten Jeep, which actually tackles the SEMPORNA panel behind the windshield. Good. OKAY.
Of course, he expects to have enough passengers to leave. It gives us time to have breakfast too ...
The atmosphere is not unpleasant. The day has just dawned, it is not too hot, and we sit at the stall of a nice young woman, who serves an excellent kopi (coffee) and speaks very good english.
The young woman who serves us does not have a scarf on her head. There are many more Chinese and Christians, in State of Sabah, and therefore significantly more women who go bareheaded. Along the road, I saw large neon signs indicating various Christian churches: Catholics, Protestants, Methodists, Baptists ... Most of the signs are also lined in Chinese characters.
A Jeep for Semporna
We will then spend nearly five hours in total discomfort, crammed to eight, along with two other tourists, an Englishman and his Thai girlfriend, as well as three Malays, in the warm breath of open windows (no air conditioning) . Palm oil plantations as far as the eye can see. And the wide posterior of Helena the Englishwoman who forces me to contortions impossible to fit mine, from behind, on the seat of the rotten Jeep.
She and her husband Paul are from Guernsey. They make a honeymoon trip a bit special, since they have been walking for almost ten months in Asia: they went through India, Nepal, they went to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand ... Where they will return, after diving in Sipadan, for a last week of relaxation and rest, in Koh Tao!
AT Semporna, ground and sweating, we are all deposited, with the exception of Malays, at Dragon Inn, probably one of the best addresses of the port. A huge resort on stilts, all in wood, with nice rooms like all, equipped with air conditioning, hot water and TV, from 66RM.
No hesitation. The first room I visit suits me and I even offer myself the luxury of a sea view. It's the last leg of the trip, I'm not a few ringgits near ...