Sabah 2007

Trip report on Dive Sabah Malaysia by Yuji Law
28/02: After a short flight from Bali, finally I touched down at the LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Center) at Kuala Lumpur with Monica. LCCT is not far away from the KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport), about 10 minutes drive and it is fairly convenient if you want to go to KL city from there. Just buy a standard ticket of taxis (RM35-RM70) or bus (RM9 to KL Central) at the counter and you will be taken to the KL city comfortably.
We checked in to the Concorde Inn KLIA which is located about 20 minutes from LCCT at 6pm, the room is clean and comfy except mosquito are flying around (a lot)!! And apparently Pak Aliong and Pak Akian were there already from Bandung. Thanks to Pak Zaki who took us out for a very nice dinner in Subang. By 11pm all participants were checked in to the hotel.

01/03: Woke up at 5am to head down to the LCCT to catch the 1st flight to Tawau, transport to the LCCT was arrange by a counter in the hotel.
7.30am and we are in the mid air it took 2.5hrs from LCCT to Tawau. By 10.30 we are all cleared and North Borneo's representatives including Jerry (the owner) was at the arrival gate to greet us. Transfer from Tawau to Semporna took about 1.5hrs but the journey was pleasant and great, we are sitting in a comfy van equipped with DVD player and watching a spectacular DVD about underwater of Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai and Mataking!! When watching the DVD.... I can hear my heart saying..."I wanna jump into the water now!"
1st dive at 3pm after checked in to the Dragon Inn hotel, a typical local style floating hotel built from woods and served as a tourism information center in Semporna as well.
We dive at Bohayen island, 40minutes from Semporna by speed boat and I can tell you that we were riding a powerful boat from North Borneo,2X 200hp engine! Bohayen island, a small island at the north of Semporna, the water around the island was clean and visibility about 10-15m. Based on the guide (Sajid) experience, that site is a wide angle site as many big stuff like rays, schooling of batfish or sometimes barracudas will appear during strong current. And by the moment we into the water, we saw a big school of batfish, hundreds of them schooling effortlessly. The coral over that site are mostly dead by bomb fishing but the encouraging part is that there are many small corals are waiting to blossom!

02/03:Mataking 3X dives, dive site around the Mataking Island and on the west side of the Mataking the corals are 70% dead, macro stuff but along the east side there are plenty of good dive sites with good corals. Mataking itself is a macro site, but ocasionally there are mantas as well. Not many reef fish even the colors are very healthy and everywhere, this might be due to caught by the aquarium fish hunter from local or other country because Mataking is the last island of Malaysia before the Philipines.

03/03:Kapalai:Dive sites including house reef of the Kapalai Resort where we found Harlequin shrimp and other macro stuff. The visibility at the house reef was bad....less than 10m. Current was mild! Corals state over there are still no better than the time in 2005, destroyed by bomb fishing, and in fact we heard 3 loud bangs just after 10 minutes into the water!!

04/03: Mabul: We dive at the House Reef near Sipadan Water Village for the 1st dive and the current was mild and mainly macro stuff over there. Nudibranch, shrimps, gobies, jawfish and blennies are everywhere!! 2nd dive was at the Seaventures Rig, 15-18m max depth, residence pigmy, lots of nudibranch and sometimes bumpheads and trevally are also common there. The visibility is also poor at less than 10m and is good when dive at noon because the current can be very strong in the morning and you can be drifted to the open sea or even to Tawau!!

05/03: Mabul: Same as 04/03 we started to dive at the Mabul Island then to the rig and back to the Water Bungalow house reef in the afternoon.

For me, I rate this trip 6 out of 10 because we are not really explore many sites at the far side of Mataking Island, Bohayen, Mantabuan, Gaya Group and those are the least dive sites around the area. Usually the visibility is great in Mataking area and not many divers also!! But the service of North Borneo really made a difference, they will complied any request that you throw to them, very flexible and the guides are well trained though there are few under training but you always can count on the experienced one! The food was ok, breakfast provided by Dragon Inn (Toast & Goreng Pisang with tea or coffee), packed lunch (noodles,chicken rice) and you can always request the chef to do a fantastic dinner for you, priced at RM20/pax and you will have satay, grilled fish, chicken, rice, noodle, soup, sashimi and up to 12 dishes! That's what we did!! And for sure i will go back again!!