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Report 26: Diving from Mabul Island

mf boatYoga at the top of the bridge is short-circuited by a fierce early morning rain. So I spend an extra half hour musing on the War of the Roses in bed (this is not a fortune cookie fortune. I’m addicted to BBC 4 podcasts—specifically the History Extra podcast—as my sleep aide. It may be perfectly ridiculous but it doesn’t harm the liver and they work like a charm.) I emerge to take a few pictures of the lingering pink in the clouds and stretch my body under the shelter.

I’m ready for a new day of improved buoyancy and kick-centered locomotion—my things to work on in diving. I’ll probably dive twice today. Yesterday I did two dives at Mabul: lobster wall and Kapalai. The first dive I had foggy mask problems and buoyancy issues. There were some really different corals: the fan-type corals I remember from Fiji and then some empty tube types of things with huge spikes coming off of them. (My podcasts on medieval kings are NOT such bad prep.) Also a lot of soft coral including one that looked like onion rings. I haven’t been able to find a better name. We also saw a hawksbill turtle, a tiny nudibranch like a jewel piece and plenty of other generally amazing stuff.

The second dive was much better, in terms of my ability. I was able to keep my hands more still and focus more on locomotion through the legs. I also understood Dive Master Amy’s directions much better. We also didn’t do much—nor did we need to. We were in an area where they’ve sunk a lot of stuff to become a reef hub. The waters are rich in fish. Highlights were a Flamboyant Cuttle Fish—which really looked more like a nudibranch-type of thing, like a dark brown truffle mushroom with floaty ruffles all around it, fluttering in the current. We saw a huge moray eel near the end of the dive and a couple of these big fish that seem to be covered in crud–I can’t remember the name but they were gross and cool. Oooh, also a couple of scorpion fish that look like lettuce leaves.

Today I’ve been counseled that I probably want to do the first and third dives—the third being a sun-drenched and relatively shallow dive with lots of fish. We’ll see. Tomorrow will be three dives in Sipadan, followed by my last night here (probably quite exhausted) and hopefully snorkeling on Thursday the 6th until a return to the mainland at 4 pm. Then I’ll get my butt to Tawau for a relatively early flight on the 7th.

Sip Urchin 3I feel perfectly comfortable with the level of scrunge here. It’s interesting to feel the sufficiency and comfort in spareness. This feels like a tribute to a month of bumming around after 3 months of stripping it down AND hanging out with young people. It is paradise–truly. (No insects, although I’ve heard that some guests have had rat episodes—that’s not so nice.) There’s beautiful stuff to do combined with a lot of nothing to do. Nice international and local guests who are interesting enough. Good simple local food. (An amazing burst of fresh crab last night. Lucky! And some batter fried bananas. It’s amazing how hungry you get diving.) Kuching will return me to city life.

The dive resort (a backpacker dive resort—Bilabong) has been host to a couple from Portland who just left (yes, really the only other Americans here during my time,) two guys from Brazil—who met here–Germans, Dutch girls, three guys from England, a Malaysian couple (I’d never heard of a Malay woman going in the water—but they did their open water training here.)

Sip sunsetDivers tend to be a wee bit compulsive. There’s a lot of photo and these days, video competition. I don’t do that. I try to keep snapshots in my eye/brain. This gig is almost up.