On the pontoon of Mabul, the little gypsies of the sea welcome divers. (Borneo, Malaysia. July 2006)
On the pontoon of Mabul, the little gypsies of the sea welcome divers. (Borneo, Malaysia. July 2006)

Gypsies of the sea and soldiers in arms

#Sipadan #Mabul # Borneo #Malaysia

  Malaysia: Peninsula and Borneo - July 2006

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 


The islands around Sipadan are not well known and yet they are worth a visit. I dive there almost every day until the end of the week, while waiting for my turn to go to Sipadan.

In the genre "appetizer", these small islands (Mabul, Sibuan, Mantabuan) are fantastic spots.

The island of Mabul

The main one, Mabul, is inhabited. Entire families of fishermen, more or less sedentary "sea gypsies", live there in wooden shacks on stilts, next to a luxurious resort for rich divers and longhouses rustic for low-budget divers.

The pontoon of Mabul. (Borneo, Malaysia. July 2006)
The pontoon of Mabul. (Borneo, Malaysia, July 2006)
On the pontoon of Mabul, the little gypsies of the sea welcome divers. (Borneo, Malaysia. July 2006)
On the pontoon of Mabul, the little gypsies of the sea welcome divers. (Borneo, Malaysia. July 2006)

The island is pretty, seen from the open sea, but for this first time in the waters of Sipadan, I preferred to stay in Semporna, even if it means taking the boat every morning.

Update : during my future trips to Borneo, in 2009 and in 2013, to dive in Sipadan, I will make a different choice, I will reside in Mabul to avoid this journey.

The port of Semporna is ugly, not very pleasant, I would not advise tourists in search of exotic postcard to stay there. But there is a semblance of modernity that I appreciate: internet access (although not very fast), electrical outlets to recharge the batteries of the camera, restaurants, hot water, market, etc.

Small annoyance in my quest for modernity: I receive SMS, but I can't send any. It's annoying, all the same... Hmm. I feel like a backpacker who's getting bored!

Small animals

During my many dives in Mabul, Sibuan and Mantabuan, I am not disappointed. The dive-masters are competent and know the bottoms like the back of their hand. Every day I discover bugs that I have never seen before.

Highly sought after frog-fishes aka frogfish (antennae), indolent and shapeless fish, disguise themselves as a sponge and wedge incognito between two stones, leaning on their fins which have become quasi-paws.

Crocodile fish, kings of camouflage too, merge with the sand. And, again, there is a truly incredible variety of nudibranchs ...

Crocodile fish. (Mabul, Malaysia, July 2006)
Crocodile fish. (Mabul, Malaysia, July 2006)
This frogfish photographed in Mabul does not really look like anything ... (Borneo, Malaysia, July 2006)
This frogfish photographed in Mabul really looks like nothing… (Borneo, Malaysia, July 2006)
An imposing white nudibranch (sea slug) with yellow border, photographed in Mabul. (Borneo, Malaysia, July 2006)
An imposing white nudibranch (sea slug) with yellow border, photographed in Mabul. (Borneo, Malaysia, July 2006)
Look who is hiding in the sand ... (Sibuan, Borneo, Malaysia, July 2006)
Look who is hiding in the sand… (Sibuan, Borneo, Malaysia, July 2006)
A school of jacks, in Mabul. (Borneo, Malaysia, July 2006)
A school of jacks, in Mabul. (Borneo, Malaysia, July 2006)
A pretty spotted moray eel in Mabul. (Borneo, Malaysia, July 2006)
A pretty spotted moray eel in Mabul. (Borneo, Malaysia, July 2006)
Another moray eel in Mabul. (Borneo, Malaysia, July 2006)
Another moray eel in Mabul. (Borneo, Malaysia, July 2006)
A small cuttlefish in Mantabuan. (Borneo, Malaysia, July 2006)
A small cuttlefish in Mantabuan. (Borneo, Malaysia, July 2006)
A small school of catfish on the sand near Sibuan. (Borneo, Malaysia, July 2006)
A small school of catfish on the sand near Sibuan. (Borneo, Malaysia, July 2006)

A treat for the amateur photographers of which I am a part. You can also meet the classic tropical underwater fauna: batfish, moray eels, angel fish, clowns, parrots, etc. etc.

Between two dives, we decompress on the sand, the time to eliminate the nitrogen accumulated in the body and to take some strength.

Military welcome on white sand

On each island, there are soldiers, who control the boats' route sheets, the names and the number of divers. Security measures put in place by the Malaysian government since the hostage taking in 2000 by the Philippine terrorist group Abu Sayyaf (the divers held on Jolo Island had been kidnapped in Sipadan).

A lattice Malaysian soldier stands guard on the sand of Sibuan. (Borneo, Malaysia, July 2006)
A lattice Malaysian soldier stands guard on the sand of Sibuan. (Borneo, Malaysia, July 2006)
Mantabuan Island is also guarded by soldiers. Borneo, Malaysia, July 2006.
On the island of Mantabuan, the soldiers on duty are wearing flip-flops... Borneo, Malaysia, July 2006.

It's a bit funny, when you land on these cute white sandy beaches with their postcard coconut trees, to see guys in fatigues, some of them armed with an impressive machine gun, as a welcoming committee.

Bikini divers are the main attraction of the day for them... And of course the French are entitled to a little ironic football commentary. Thanks Zidane!

😂

  Malaysia: Peninsula and Borneo - July 2006

Share
Tweet
Share