People who want to dive in Sipadan dive sites have to stay on the nearby islands as there are no resorts on Sipadan Island itself. One of the nearest place to stay is Mabul Island. It is a small island, I could walk covering the whole island in around two hours.
The island has a population of about 2000 villagers, most of them are fishermen and some others work at the resorts or dive shops.
Then there's the immigrants from the Philippines, mainly the Bajau Laut tribe. These people live a nomadic and seaborne lifestyle, making use of small wooden boat.
They live on the boat! Can you imagine that?
To their kids, the sea is their playground. They play and swim in the sea like a pro, even at such young age.
All the kids seem to know how to paddle a boat. They paddled around the sea and when they see foreigners, they would come and ask for money or snacks.
We went watching the sunset at a jetty and before long, these kids came flocking us.
my dive buddy (far left) and our new friends from Germany
the Bajau laut kids
Here are some random photos of the village.
See the yellow dome behind the green house? Alhamdulillah.. there is a surau on this island.
What do you think these colorful liquids are?
When I first saw them while walking through the village I thought they were aiskrim Malaysia -_- The kids buy their favorite flavour and freeze them in the fridge.
But later when I saw it again, my friends from Mabul Beach Resort pointed out that they were actually everyday items used by the villagers! Those were ketchup, detergent, cooking oil, softener and vinegar. Some of the villagers were so poor they couldn't afford to buy those items in full size, so the seller sells them in small quantities like that.
On the way to the jetty watching the sunset.
There's only a primary school on this island.
I don't know where the kids continue their studies after that. Perhaps, they take a boat to Semporna every morning to attend the secondary school there? Or they just drop off school and be a fishermen just like their father?
Anyway, the school is only for the local kids. Those immigrant kids are not entitled for the education from our government. Because of this, Scuba Junkie sponsored the School of Hope project, aimed to provide education and environmental awareness for them. Volunteers from Scuba Junkie teach them English, as well as recycling, sewing and carving.
Seaventures Rig Resort
Mabul Water Bungalow Resort
Mabul Water Bungalow even has its own helipad!
Mabul Island is also a nesting place for turtles. I was so lucky I got to watch one! It was past midnight and we were enjoying the live bands at the bar. Suddenly our friends from the resort asked us whether we wanted to see turtle nesting. We jumped at the opportunity and walked through the dark and spotted this!
went back to the ocean
Scuba Junkie has another local community project, the Mabul Turtle Hatchery programme. The objective of the programme is to increase the turtle population on Mabul Island. If a local found a turtle nesting and reports to Scuba Junkie, they will be rewarded a finder's fee for that. Trained Marine Biologist from Scuba Junkie will then go to the nesting area to collect the eggs once the turtle finished doing its business and returned to the ocean.
119 eggs were collected that night! So the finder got RM1900! Yeah.. Scuba Junkie pays RM10 per egg.
The eggs were then relocated to the hatchery. According to Scuba Junkie, only trained professionals are allowed to perform this task as the process involves very delicate procedure. My friend said he even had to go for a course only to perform that task!
Us at 2 am in the morning after the relocation finished.
I had an amazing experience on this island. Can't wait to go back!!!