Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sipadan-Kunak-Tawau Weekend Adventure


Any Malaysians who are divers should at least dive in Sipadan once in their lifetime. Sipadan is after all in the top 3 dive sites on the planet. I had a chance to dive in Sipadan last week and here's what I can say -Everyone has their own version of paradise, mine would be Sipadan.
Ready for diving

Sipadan shore

I had purchased a return ticket to Tawau six months ago for the price of RM108.00 and applied for the permit way back in September 2009. Permits to Sipadan is like having Kobe beef in a Somali prison - hard to obtain and expensive.
Here's my experience :
I floated downward through shoals of colorful fishes, darting in and out, following the current as they go along. Sipadan is all about wall diving and one can see unusual coral gardens hanging on all sides, the perplexity of shapes and sizes of all the marine life. A few metres away from me a white tip shark swims alongside and a moray eel below darting in and out from a tiny gap between the corals. Schools of baracudda and jackfish swerve to a certain
direction like they all knew their oceanic passageway. A hawksbill turtle came out of nowehere and white tip sharks laid at the sandy bottom getting all too familiar with Sipadan divers. The highlight for me was entering a cave called Turtle's Tomb. Apparently, turtles swim into the cave, gets disorientated, suffocate and die. Until today, nobody knows why the turtles swim there. I touched a couple of turtle bones and I wanted to leave immediately.
Colorful fishes

Shark at sandy bottom

harassing a moray eel

Wall Diving

Turtle's Tomb

Hawksbill Turtle

Harassed a resting shark

Harassed a resting shark part deux

Lone Shark

My permit only allowed me to dive 3 times in Sipadan and by the time, we were finished , it was already 4pm. Back on mainland, with no time to spare, I hopped on to the resort's river cruise. The river cruise featured probocis monkeys, giant fruit bats, mangrove beauty and a heavenly view.
Isn't this amazing?

Such colors!!

River cruise

The next day, with my flight at 9pm, I decided to rent a car to do the following :
Madai Falls (Kunak)
Madai Caves (Kunak)
Eat wild deer meat (Kunak)
Tawau Hills Falls (Tawau)
Bukit Gelas Falls (Tawau)
Eat glorious seafood (Tawau)

The moment I started the engine of the rented Kancil, I floored it. Tick tock tick tock mind you. Driving 120km in a Kancil made the front portion and dash board shake, rattle and roll. After driving like Evel Knievel for almost an hour, I reached my first destination- - Madai Falls. Nothing can prepare you for the waterfall's aura because the moment I laid my eyes on the waterfall, I was enchanted. With the height of a 5 storey building and green moss growing behind it, you can't help but fall in love with this easily accessible waterfall.
Madai Falls

5 Storey high

Grand !!

Later on, I drove to nearby Madai Caves. My main aim to Madai Caves was to take a picture of my biblical shaft. Unfortunately, I came at the wrong time but nevertheless, I enjoyed the enormous
archeological cave.
Madai Cave

After Madai Caves, I drove for another hour and reached Tawau Hills Park. Unfortunately, the Tawau Hills fall was fenced up. Too many people were killed there because beside the fall is a tall cliff and they use the cliff for their jumping stunts. If I make my way back there one day, I will definately trespass and swim in the pool.
Fenced up Tawau Hill Falls


I love emerald pools

A dip in the emerald pool

The Bukit Gelas Waterfall was a 4km hike deep into the forest reserve. I enjoyed the hike because throughout the trail, a beautiful and wide brook was always present . Finally, after 40 minutes, I reached the Bukit Gelas Falls, also another awesome waterfall inside the well maintained Tawau Hills Park.
Bukit Gelas Waterfall video

By the time, I left the park for my glorious seafood in Tawau, it had gotten dark. I ordered fried soft shell crabs,salad prawns and scallops with the bill coming up to only RM50.00. With my final break neck speed driving, I arrived at the airport just in time for my 9pm flight.