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 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: 

The islands around Sipadan are unknown and yet they are worth seeing. I dive there almost every day until the end of the week, waiting for my turn to go to Sipadan.

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

Mabul Island

The main one, Mabul, is inhabited. Whole families of fishermen, more or less sedentary "sea gypsies", live there in wooden huts on stilts, next to a luxurious resort for playful 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 sea, but for this first time in the waters of Sipadan, I preferred to reside in Semporna, even if it means making the boat trip 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 looking for an exotic postcard to stay there. But there is a semblance of modernity that I appreciate: internet access (although not super 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 not send. It's annoying, all the same ... Hum. I feel like a backpacker who gets bored!

Small animals

During my many dives in Mabul, Sibuan and Mantabuan, I am not disappointed. The dive-masters are competent and know the funds as their pocket. I discover every day animals 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 amateur photographers of which I am a part. We also meet the tropical underwater tropical fauna: batfish, moray eels, angelfish fish, clowns, parrots, etc. etc.

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

Military welcome on white sand

On each island, there are soldiers, who control the waybills of the boats, the names and the number of the 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 detained on the island of Jolo 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 faction soldiers are in tong ... Borneo, Malaysia, July 2006.

It’s a little funny, all the same, when we land on these cute white postcard beaches with their coconut palms, to see guys in lattice arriving, some armed with an impressive machine gun, as a welcoming committee .

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

????

  Malaysia: Peninsula and Borneo - July 2006

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