Following my only dive trip at Pulau Kapas back in 2017, I actually managed another underwater excursion in October 2018 while on a work trip to Kota Kinabalu that involved staying over the weekends.
Since this is still a blog documenting my travel & food adventures, here’s the short entry to serve as sort of an online dive-log of mine. Do check out the short video I made using the Olympus TG-Trekker, which since died after that trip for reasons unknown (I gotta call the service center, been weeks!)
Anyway, back to the trip.
Kota Kinabalu is a great city to live in if you love to go underwater. The jetty heading out to the islands is conveniently located just a few minute’s drive from the city center. In fact, you can realistically walk there.
a lousy day out diving is better than any day at the office!
The dive trip itself was arranged by Yann May with the local guide (Johny), and during this trip we were the only two divers, which made for a relaxing trip that doesn’t involved being hurried or having to wait for others.
You can get a 3-dive package for RM 250-300 or so around here, usually with a meal thrown in.
While visibility wasn’t the best during our dives, they were relaxing, and we did see a few eagle rays (first minute of first dive!), some clown fish, cleaning shrimps, starfish, pencil fish, lion fish, puffer fish, and more, mostly documented in the video.
After the 6 dives at Mabul, Kapalai, and Sipadan islands, we decided to take day 4 easy and not go for any extra diving sessions.
We checked rather early at 8am, had some breakfast and went for a short snorkeling trip instead.
Uncle Chang’s Sipadan Mabul dive lodge
At Uncle Chang’s, a 3-dive package is priced at RM 560 for Sipadan and RM 260 for Mabul/Kapalai. Extra dive at Mabul is priced at RM 150, and snorkeling at Mabul is free of charge if you’re staying there.
Rental per day for snorkel and mask is at RM 15, and there’s another RM 15 for fins too. It is important to have both items for snorkeling, as Gun found out the hard way by over estimating his ability to swim without fins. We had to cut short our expedition due to tiredness as the dude did not wear a life jacket either.
giant blue clams, star fish, and lotsa neon colored fish, Jen & Lynn
After diving, snorkeling can be a bit disappointing. While it is still beautiful, the variety of fish at shallow depth tend to be a lot lesser, and we are limited to one breath per short dive to the bottom to get a closer look.
around Mabul island, a beautiful mess
After coming back to Uncle Chang’s, we still had 3-4 hours to kill before the boat ride out of Mabul. Irene, Lynn, and I decided to walk over to the other side of the island to get some souvenirs.
On the island, you really do see the way hardcore poor of Borneo lives. Kids below schooling age normally doesn’t even wear anything, and they seem quite content to be running around naked and be peeing whenever they feel like, even in front of you. Houses here often consist of only one room, with a window that can’t really be shut and a frame that doesn’t’ really have a proper door.
Oh, they do have electricity, but only at night.
Nemo Island Shell Fish Shop
To support local economy, we went to Nemo Island Shell Fish Shop to get some souvenirs. As the name suggests, they sell mainly seashells here, anything from RM 5 for a big one to RM 20-30 for those that are more intricate. The lady gave us discounts without us asking first, probably cos we look like really nice people. 😀
There were a couple low quality t-shirts for sale too, with one printed “KLCC”.. heh.
Mabul island to Uncle Chang’s dive lodge
After we went back to Uncle Chang’s with our purchase, Lynn and I went on the island one more time to kill another hour or so, this time soaking our legs on another private resort’s swimming pool. No one came to disturb us, I guess we really did look like nice people.
I took a video on the way from Mabul to Uncle Chang’s, the few jokers: Lynn, Irene, Jen, Gun, and Chan appeared in this short video. I wanna go back there, now!