16 – 25 June 2009
N4 07.051 E118 37.655
Yogi nagged and nagged me about Sipadan. “I need time underwater!” he says. “Don’t cut short my diving time!” He needed to nag because I have a habit of prioritizing land shoots. Listening to the demanding husband, I booked us 10 days and 9 nights in Sipadan Mabul Resort or SMART. We stayed in SMART eight years ago and had a wonderful time then. Access to Sipadan Island was not restricted then so we thought nothing of our daily morning dives to the famed island. But now that only 120 people (divers and non-divers) were allowed on a daily basis, the stress and want level was 100 times more. We needed SIPADAN, and SMART only had 14 slots allotted to them daily.
As luck would have it, we were in Mabul during the short window of “lean season.” We were tense every day, wondering whether our names would be written on the board or not to go to Sipadan. Well it almost always was and we were in seventh heaven every time we saw our names written down!
The resort was as we remembered it and more. Our room was so comfortable and oh so nicely situated. It was more because now there was the Water Bungalows in our horizon. Quite a sight to see especially during sunset when all the lights were turned on.
Another evidence of climate change were massive concrete blocks all around the beachfront. The resort was spending thousands upon thousands of Ringgit to build the seawall. David Shaw, the tech diver/instructor of SMART, joked it was cheaper to build the entire Water Bungalow than building the seawall. He said the erosion was so bad the resort owner had no choice but to reinforce and make sure the island was safe during bad weather and king tides. And the tides are rising higher and higher.