All good things come to an end… As much as you wish the good times to last for an eternity, all too soon it is time to say goodbye.
On our 3rd day we said farewell to the insanity that was Urs, it wasn’t the same without him!
That night the staff put on a fabulous concert with great music. Unfortunately all of us were so exhausted from a full day diving that we crashed early, we also all had another 5.30am morning.
Our final day in Sipidan did not disappoint as usual. Although on my 2nd dive, distracted by a stunning nudibranch, I went a wee bit too deep and my dive computer freaked out and started beeping. Me, having never dove with this type of computer, pretty much ignored it, except for the part about doing a 5 minute safety stop before surfacing instead of a 3 minute. I knew I had done something wrong but wasn’t sure, the nudibranch was awfully pretty. At the lunch break I asked one of the instructors and he told me it should be fine just stay about 15m just in case.
A Sad Truth
During the start of our first dive there were 3 large underwater explosions. The 2nd one being so loud and sounding so close that we felt our teeth rattle. In truth these were many many kilometers away. The locals, especially in the Philippines, use dynamite or homemade explosives to fish. The explosions stun the fish which then float to the surface. Much easier than spending hours with a rod or net, but also extremely destructive to the coral and surrounding animal life, not to mention divers.
On all 3 dives I spotted 2-3 nudibranchs, 1 lobster and was 3 for 3 on some of the biggest moray eels I have ever seen. In one dive we came over a ridge in the coral and discovered a vast valley below us. Due to the strong current we just floated along above it, I could only assume this is what underwater paragliding would feel like. Truly spectacular sensation. Why is it that as soon as you get yourself adjusted to buoyancy (that took me 3 times to spell) and being able to spot the micro life around you, it is time to go.
Returning for the last time to the rig, we completed our log books and signed each other off. I have now spent 25hrs and 2 seconds of my life underwater with a total of 43 dives. I have never thought of booking a dive holiday as it always seems so much more expensive and usually only allows one location, but that was before I had done any warm water, tropical diving. I think I shall have to rethink that thought…
After a final lunch, sad farewells it was time to take the sea-lavator for the last time… Martin and I were leaving and Dave remained the final of the Fearsome Foursome on the rig. Thank you to all the fantastic staff who made this trip fantastic! Special thanks to Instructor Ricardo and John, to Instructor Midgi for loaning me his mask, to dive buddies Martin, Dave and Urs, to dive friends Matt and Laura and everyone else.
Return to Semporna
It was a sad, yet stunning boat ride back to Semporna and the mainland of Borneo. When we arrived at our dock we discovered the shuttle driver hadn’t unlocked the gate and appeared to be sleeping in the shuttle. But after a good 10minutes he finally heard us and let us out. The shuttle turned out to be air conditioned so none of us could truly blame him. In town Martin and I parted ways planning to meet in an hour after settling in.
I had planned to stay at the Scuba Junkie backpacker hostel, located closer to the center of town than the last one and with what appeared to be a great vibe. But when I got there, there was a mix up. Before I left for the rig, I had made a tentative booking on a dive and hostel stay but when I decided on the extra night on the rig I called and cancelled. It appeared as if the person I spoke with had not passed on the message. But after some confusion there was no problem and I paid my 10ringit (about $3.30). As I was about to go to the dorm the receptionist said “first check in for your dive”. When I explained I had cancelled it he said that non divers had to pay 15ringit. I was a little annoyed with this as no one had told me, and Martin was paying 27ringit for his own room and bathroom. So I said screw it, cancelled the booking and went to the hotel. A room of my own with bathroom, air conditioning and…wait for it… the movie channel, sounded way better than a crowded 10 bed dorm room.
Martin and I met to run some errands and hunt down postcards and stamps. Both of which were reasonably unsuccessful. Then it was nap time before meeting for dinner. Martin took me to a local place where we ordered some yummy fish and rice and chicken dish like thing and I got to practice my Malay, to the bemusement of the staff. (please note I fear the words I tried to learn stayed in my head for about as long as calculus did after graduation – wish my brain could retain more).
Return to Kuala Lumpur
Martin was leaving in the morning to get his visa to enter Philippine Borneo (think that is how you say it), so we said farewell and hopefully we will meet Urs and Dave in 2 yrs for our reunion dive. I spent all of the following morning wallowing in my air conditioned, comfy bed watching movies. Its a hard life but someone has to do it! Then at checkout I still had 4 hrs before I would leave to the airport, so exploring the town, lunch and chilling in reception was the plan for the day. Luckily I had found a group of 4 also on the same flight and could take a taxi with them, 20ringit each, a saving of 70ringit if I had gone alone and much hassle if I had taken the bus.
With only about 1hr before the flight I decided to forego dinner and go straight through to the gate. We had to go through immigration again, even though I was still in Malaysia. Barely 30min later and I glanced at the departure screen and the lack of my flight on it. Finally in the confusion I looked lost and forlorn at the gate where the flight had previously directed me to go. One of the attendants from a different airline asked if he could help and ended up escorting me out through immigration and right to the Air Asia information counter. As I feared Air Asia lived up to its reputation and the flight had been delayed another hour. Well then I may as well have some dinner. With 20min to go many of us headed down to the gate and were promptly told to go right back up the stairs as the check in point was up there.
Finally after a long day we finally left and arrived in KL late in the evening to find Chauw there to pick me up. Such good friends are hard to find. Heading out for dinner and then home it was great to be back and see Viven and Pakkun again, but it was straight to bed for me.
We spent the final day exploring the KL China Town and market. It was great fun and there were awesome things to choose from.
At one section of the “Asian Market” in the India section Viven bought me a pashmina (which has come in very useful during Germany) and we decided to get Henna/Mehindi tattoos.
Our last adventure had me search out a portable hard drive. I had seen many travelers with these nifty little things but they always seemed so expensive, but rather handy. I had never seen the need, until I started reaching critical on the number of photos I had on my poor little netbook. eventually we found one at a rather decent price and so headed home with my new toy to pack and nap.
My flight to Kathmandu left at the glorious hour of 2.10am, with a 10hr layover in Dhaka airport, Bangladesh. So after the nap we loaded the car, had a late dinner and dropped me off at the airport near midnight… And so the adventure continues…