Mabul Village. Borneo, Malaysia, July 2009.

Mabul Village

  Borneo [Malaysia and Indonesia] - July 2009

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text: 

When I do not pose with sharks of SipadanI live in Mabul, the neighboring island. I live in a "longhouse", a "longhouse" on stilts in the heart of the village.

A village full of life

The village of Mabul is a maze of huts on stilts made of badly trimmed sheets and planks of wood, a bit crado, with chickens and children running everywhere.

Mabul Village. Borneo, Malaysia, July 2009.

Mabul Village. Borneo, Malaysia, July 2009.

Mabul Village. Borneo, Malaysia, July 2009.

The place is rather miserable, but full of life.

The kids interrupt their games to cheerfully greet the passing tourists, " Hello! Hello! "they waved their hands, asked for photos, took the pose with their fingers extended.

And again, I feel like the Queen of England visiting, to say hello to all those people I do not know. The adults greet you with a nod of a head, a radiant smile.

The place is noisy, between the hum of the generators, the volume of TVs pushed to the bottom, the cries of the kids, the cocks tickling full throat.

While the girls are washing or sweeping chores, the young guys meet at night at the volleyball court, where they play fierce games.

Mabul Village. Borneo, Malaysia, July 2009.

Some are bold to ask me where I am going when I cross the village to reach the resort. Borneo Divers, before dinner time, to connect to the wifi. "Jalan, jalan ...", I answer.

The magic formula still works. I go, I come, I walk, I walk.

Mabul Village. Borneo, Malaysia, July 2009.

Guesthouse on stilts

The comfort of my guesthouse, Arung Hayatt, is rustic, but it's more fun and less sanitized than the great resorts. And it is not frequented only by divers or western tourists.

A lot of Malaysians also come to spend a day or two in Mabul, and go down to these cheap longhouses.

I laugh with the children who throw themselves in the water from the dock to impress the gallery, I sympathize with two young Malaysian women from Kuala Lumpur, who came to snorkel with their friends. Muslim and respectful of tradition, they bathe without ever discovering their legs or their heads!

But the atmosphere is tolerant and good child. And I pose willingly with them, for their holiday photos, with my hair soaked, my stockings and my bikini top. Fun contrast.

I'm leaving Mabul tomorrow. I'm a little sad to leave. I'm starting to feel good here after a week. Almost like at home ...

Billabong Scuba for dives

In Billabong Scuba, the neighboring longhouse, with which I dive, the atmosphere is very nice too.

The staff is lovely and all nationalities are mixed: Malaysians and Filipinos, South Africans, Americans, Thais ...

The Billabong Scuba pontoon in Mabul. Borneo, Malaysia, July 2009.
The Billabong Scuba pontoon in Mabul. Borneo, Malaysia, July 2009.

I'm having a good time here. In the evening, we drink shots in the middle of combis that dry, sitting on the wooden dock.

There's always a guy to scratch Sipadan's song on his guitar ... Search « Sipadan Song On YouTube, there are a lot of videos!


See all articles on this trip:

→ Borneo [Malaysia + Indonesia]: July 2009

  Borneo [Malaysia and Indonesia] - July 2009

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  1. a wooden pontoon, a blue sea and a sky....sombre, finally it's not so nice in your paradise 😉 or it's just not to make us regret not being on holiday ❓
    in any case, nice photos.
    But you told us extraordinary dives, so it's not all but we want proofs, photos, photos ❗ ....

  2. @Laurence: "Paradise" here is under water. The island of Mabul does not look so much like the exotic cliché "tropical postcard" that we all have in mind. No real beach dream, a lot of waste to drag in the corners. As for the weather, it is tropical: three-four days of great beauty, followed by two-three days of gray skies full of moisture. We had a big storm one night, at the beginning of my stay. From where this dark and charged sky, of the most beautiful effect, I find, by contrast, with the azure waves. Much more interesting than a uniformly blue sky, right?
    For new shipments of underwater photos, visit the following posts ...

  3. Hello Corinne,
    And congratulations for your site, it is great! I leave in 15 days in Sipadan with my husband and I wonder if it is better to stay at Semporna (Dragon Inn) or Mabul, as I saw that you did the 2. Which experience did you prefer?
    Do you think we should book accommodation in advance on Mabul? We do not like to anticipate things ...
    Would you recommend Suba Junkie or Billabong Scuba to dive? Thank you!!

    1. @Carine: Hello Carine, and thank you!

      To dive in Sipadan, I think it is better to stay in Mabul, because we are much closer to the Sipadan sites (about 20-30 minutes only). From Semporna, I think, from memory, around 1 hour and a half or more, depending on the state of the sea, the power of the engine, the size of the boat, the age of the captain, etc. .

      Moreover, Semporna is without much interest. While life in Mabul is more fun, especially if you stay in a longhouse in the heart of the village.

      To dive, for the experience I had (but it's been a while, my information may not be very fresh), I preferred Billabong Scuba: the organization is "local" (with what it involves good and bad), but I appreciated the fact that they still managed to recover licenses (there is a lot of traffic between the different centers) and succeed to make you dive several times in the week in Sipadan. I had stalled things with them by email before leaving. I had been told how many times I could dive in Sipadan itself (a total of 3 days if I remember well during my week-long stay) and they kept their word.

      To sleep, the beach resort of Scuba Junkie is much more comfortable. But I heard that Billabong Scuba had for a year or two, now more enjoyable.

      After, what will make the difference for the quality of the dives is the guide / divemaster who will accompany you. There has always been a lot of turnover at Scuba Junkie, with young Western DMs, some passionate, others less, but not always familiar with the sites. At Billabong Scuba, they were local guides who knew the area thoroughly, and some Westerners in training, I found the atmosphere more fun.

      Finally, yes, it is better to book in advance on Mabul in general (but it also depends on the influx depending on the season, and your requirements of standing), especially to hope to dive in Sipadan (limited number of permits) per day).

      At worst, disembarking like that, you will find accommodation in longhouse in the village (rustic comfort, but friendly atmosphere), only you may not be able to dive as you wish in Sipadan. Many divers who land like this are disappointed, as they spend the week trying to beg for licenses left and right, without ever succeeding in obtaining, the famous permits being distributed between the different centers that keep them for their customers.

      Good bubbles !!!