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Scuba Junkie--Island Combo 10/09 thru 12/09/12

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Scuba Junkie--Island Combo 10/09 thru 12/09/12

Post Number:#1  Postby decimal86 » Fri Sep 14, 2012 11:01 pm

SCUBA JUNKIE-- ISLAND COMBO DIVING 10TH SEPT THRU 12TH SEPT 2012

Every AirAsia flight that we have been on has been an adventure, I feel at anytime a TV host will step up and say ‘ Jack and Kathy you are the last team to arrive…’ we thought we had it all planned…hahaha

Its website keeps wanting to sell you insurance and assigning you to their red-hot seats if you are not paying attention. These days you can’t even check-in at the airport…its RM10 if you do…you have to have a printer to print your boarding pass. Ok so I printed 8 boarding passes!! Luckily on recycled paper, not brown—lah. I can hear you guys sniggering.

Went to Changi, lo and behold, they took my recycled paper and gave me the rolled up ones…dooh! What’s up with that ???  Ask me to web check-in for what ? 

Landed in KL LCCT, collected my gear from one end and checked-in my gear again at the other and walked to Domestic Departure and now my carry on bags could not be brought into the cabin?? When it was not a problem in Singapore… A mad rush to buy an emergency bag to re-pack and keep my carry on to 7 kg each…and check that one in as well.  You should have seen the que of ppl I cut to the X-ray screening, their stares would have melted half of Antartica!! Maaf maaf tumpang lalu…

Till this day I do not know how ppl get on their intended flight when they file out of the holding room at the LCCT ??  That lorong does not have the flight numbers what?

Landed at Tawau and was whisked away by the transport to Semporna. If you are doing a Sipadan dive trip, this is where you have to make a decision..

Left turn at the junction from the airport to Tawau (25 km ) and right turn to Semporna (80km) this is where you have to make a decision go to Tawau and spend the night or turn right and proceed direct to Semporna.  We paid RM30/- each because it was a full van. But if there are less pax, you may have to pay RM45 each.

Tawau is most definitely a livelier town with a big seafood restaurant row. And more hotels/inns.

But in the morning you will have to do 25 km again back to the junction….you get the picture?

Semporna is a frontier town. Very basic inns. Plenty of pirate taxis some even had Selangor/KL plates, there was even one with a P plate. (is he a P driver or P pirate taxi??) So if you have been wondering where are all the private sapu taxi went?

We stayed at Sipadan Inn and there is a Sipadan Inn II-newer and my preferred accom but fully booked. Inn II has balcony for drying your wet stuff.  Useful! But longer walk to SJ.

Sipadan Inn gives very fast internet and free wi-fi, in addition they also have 2 computer terminal in the the lobby for guests. Laundry is avail around the area and most affordable.  Rooms are air-cond and linen changed every day. The bed is firm and coffee/tea in the room. A safe. But no fridge. The water pressure varies according to the pump downstairs. TV with a few Astro channels. There is a common balcony for hanging your washings but beware the signs says thefts are common!

Hmm seems to be a local thing! The dive center, their restaurant and their boat have the same sign. Beware of thefts!!

Ok…first you decide if you want to dive 2, or 3 days. 3 days and above you receive a discount. Each day you are committed to 3 dives. Committed? Yes the boat is not going to bring just you back to town. It leaves the public jetty (just behind Scuba Junkie) at about 0900 hrs and comes back around 1600 hrs. There is a discount in the diving package for Malaysians!! Best nya…

You must pay RM2 each day for the use of the public jetty. If you have been using the old jetty, well its reclaimed now. The boat is gonna be packed with ppl taking OWC. Day trippers, guys and gals (some really jambu…cuci mata!) from all over the world who do not want to pay to stay at the islands ?

The town has a lot of stray dogs. So you have been warned!! They are friendly but if you are the kind that freaks out on seeing a canine, please do yourself a favour, stay in the van!

You can stay at SJ dormitory above their bar/restaurant, again basic lodgings with common bathroom. Very very affordable.

The hotels that are near to SJ are Hotel Dive Inn and the 2 Sipadans. Sea Fest is miles away.

All restaurants have the halal sign so meals are not a problem here. The Ocean Treasure Seafood was my favourite during this trip. Reasonable price for live seafood. Next door is a dessert stall that sold fruits with ice-cream which was a real treat. And pisang goreng with sugar—sedap! Beer is available but from a Chinese coffe shop nearby.

Each meal with drinks will not cost more than RM9/- strangely the Nasi Lemak here was of a very good standard. You know the kind when you bite it once twice then all of a sudden your taste buds says, ummmmmhhh? And then you shovel everything into your stomach and order another? This was it!! B’fast was at Al Nafisah or Kedai Jelly Yee Shun. The latter opens at 0530 hrs!!

They have a Giant here! So leave everything at home…everything here is cheaper than home!! Roti, Milo, Nescafe 3-1 all murah! I went and bring my own…sob sob. Guardian the pharmacist is here.

There are a few dive centers in town as well but SJ is by far the most popular. They crew are all in their teens and some have just got their DM…I asked for a local boy—Edgar—eyes like a hawk! At time of this report they do not have Nitrox.

This part of town does not have an ATM anywhere in sight. There are banks on the other side of the bridge where the town proper started. No clinics around either. 

The ppl doing the rosters are nice so we got the benefit of Edgar’s local knowledge for the 3 days. The others do not mind cuz not many photographers.

So what happens is you bring your gear and get some weights from the dive shop at the rear and leave you bag at the rear of the shop. Go back to the dive center and wait for your name to be called, you will then be assigned to a DM.

A big, really big mesh bag is the best solution to contain all your personal stuff. They will set up your gear on the boat. No towels. No water. Lunch is provided but it is very very basic. I brought my Nasi Lemak! Ooh there is also a Chinese kopi shop that sells nasi kuning that is also very sedap!

They provide hot tea on board. No coffee though.  No water to rinse on the boat. Remember to bring your own water if you do not want salt to stick to your hair. And a towel.

The dive sites are about 45-55 mins away. Life jackets are a must on the boat. Oh did I tell you to slap on sunscreen? Some of the day-trippers looked like sea-food after steaming—bright red! The boats are packed so suiting up needs a bit of choreography. Becareful of your precious camera and all its accessories! Especially after the dives. Divers are just throwing their fins, weight belts into the boat…

When you come back to Semporna, the crew will take care of your stuff or if your prefer, you can rinse it in a really big tub, 2 in fact, and hand it to the dive shop to hang-dry till you check-out. No space for camera charging nor table-top for uploading pictures. Our gear dried sufficiently not to incur excess baggage at AAsia.

Ok now the dive sites..

Mantabuan island is so beautiful! And its even more so underwater. Lots of macro. And the visibility goes on and on…frogfish, the most varied nudis congregation ever and also turtles everywhere. Leaf fish. A very good start to our dive trip indeed.

I bought a Go Pro Hero 2 and will upload videos as well.

Never knew we had these creatures nearby and we do not have to go to Indonesia/Philippines.

Sibuan was not so exciting. Got some residents on this island that is a bit off center if you know what I mean? One guy impersonated as a sargeant and wanted money, but the DM’s told him no. the visibility underwater was not good either. Again frogfish but strangely no Nudis…

This is the highlight of my trip..the third day when we did Kapalai, SeaVenture and Paradise I at SWV.

Kapalai as always was a blast! Only thing missing was that frogfish on the sampan wreck. And the flamboyant cuttlefish. The visibility was not good. But man oh man, the flabellina was all over the place and they were like necklaces!! Long and fat.

Lots of frogfishes too.

Seaventure took our breath away…I mean literally..took our breath away. I have dived here twice and it was never this strong, the current I mean. Most of the divers just received their OWC and they had trouble getting to the bottom and crawling thru the current, and some could not control their bouancy and shot to the surface. I mananged to take some pictures before the DM scrubbed the dive and we thot it was  a good call! Don’t want to scare ppl off scuba diving right?

Paradise I was a complete surprise to me! I never knew SWV had this jewel outside chalet 104, I know because I stayed there before. Man if I go back I am bringing 3 tanks to my chalet…

Baby frogfish--2, snake eel--2 , pipefish—2, robust ghostpipe, giant mantis—2, pygmy cuttlefish, nudis. All the things that me want to get off my fat behind and go dive, all here and we keep the local diving industry going .

No its not as good as Lembeh, nothing is as good as Lembeh..well, maybe Ambon, but Lembeh is always my fav. So I am biased, ok I have said it!


These 3 dives were launched off SJ at Mabul Island. For crying out loud, a dive center without a restroom ??  Come on ??!!! From their jetty you have to take off your dive gear change into shorts (they don’t allow wet things at their resort) and walk 400 m to the dining hall to take a pee? Seriously dude?

Lunch was at the dining hall. Also very basic. Did not have a look inside so cannot comment on the rooms. But the place has a stretch of white sand and a few deckchairs to chill. And well…you also have very noisy neighbours…the boat ppl had a very graphic quarrel with each other and they made quite a din. I suppose the same could be said for SWV as they were quarreling in front of the dining hall of SWV. I wish they would clean up the bay because it is really getting unsightly with old clothing and other human rejects in an otherwise pristine bay that 3 resident turtles call home…and some sea-snakes!

If you are in Mabul doing the dives to the above places, you may have to change boats for the return to Semporna. So keep your stuff where you can find them. my wife’s sandals got replaced by one without diamante!! And wrong size some more…some ppl ar… tight never mind, got diamante only, take!! Jia Lat. And don’t forget, the restroom is 400m away?? If you have to go, let the DM know you are in the toilet?
Alamak Scuba Junkie, build a toilet at the DC-lah!

Ok in closing, it was cheap! How about quality? If you are used to 3 stars and above hotels and  dive resorts, this is not for you!!! Safety ? they are PADI compliant. Though most divers did not wear a dive comp. No SMB.

In fact, excluding the airfare, the cost was slightly above diving at Tioman !! And we saw more than we ever did in the 2 years we dived there. No fault of the DC at Tioman you understand.

The airfare from KL was expensive return RM 1200 per pax incl dive gear. But if you dive with the DCs in Semporna and stayed in Semporna, I highly recomm it!! You need not go to Philippines or Indonesia. Did not get a chance to go to Mataking island, from the map enclosed, you can see it is very far away. My browsing of the web says the resort is also very expensive. One day I will visit and see how..

Ok we enjoyed our diving very much and will do this again. SJ does give value for money and their crew looked happy working. Looks like Sabah planning a Taman Marin Tun Sakaran, I am looking fwd to its birth as there are too many dynamite fishing going on, and they are quite close to where we dived.  Quite scary if you are not used to it. They were telling us if you see a one-armed man in Semporna, he used to be a dynamite fisherman.

Dive happy surface safely!
alamak, the tank goes at the back??
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Re: Scuba Junkie--Island Combo 10/09 thru 12/09/12

Post Number:#2  Postby raffidi » Sat Sep 15, 2012 6:30 am

Bro Decimal86,
Nice report and yes it's worth the time and money diving from Semporna. Glad you had a great time. But why was your trip to TWU so much? On average it cost RM550 -RM600 on Air Asia.
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Re: Scuba Junkie--Island Combo 10/09 thru 12/09/12

Post Number:#3  Postby terjuntiruk » Sat Sep 15, 2012 9:12 pm

Nice one bro.
Dived with SJ a few years back. Stayed in their backpacker-style room. Got own toilet. The room only had one lightbulb and very basic. Back then most of their staffs were non-Malaysian (read ex-pat) except for the counter staffs and boatmen. Dived Sibuan, Kapalai and Mabul. Did not managed to dive Mantabuan, maybe next time. I heard Mantabuan and Siamil have good macro.

When we were at Sibuan, there were a group of people (Malaysian? Philipino?) who were having a beach party. They brought their own stove, tong gas, mini compo and tent. Their music were very loud. They must have scared all the macro from Sibuan as I did not see much.

Have dived Seaventures many time before. The current can be very strong esp toward the later of the day. Once we had to hold on the rope for dear life at 5m while doing the safety stop. Look around and saw everybody were doing Superman action. Just pray that my camera did not slip out of my hand. A few divers surface at the other end of the rig. From my observation during my stay on the rig, noticed that the best time to dive there is in the morning when the current is very much slack.
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Re: Scuba Junkie--Island Combo 10/09 thru 12/09/12

Post Number:#4  Postby b541314 » Sun Sep 23, 2012 1:00 pm

hi guys,

i am a new diver, intended to gain some dive experience b4 head over to mabul n simpadan mid 2013.

appreciate the input by decimal86 and terjuntiruk.

hopefully more input b4 i finalise my mabul simpadan explore. thanks
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Re: Scuba Junkie--Island Combo 10/09 thru 12/09/12

Post Number:#5  Postby mamakpenang » Sun Sep 23, 2012 5:28 pm

decimal bro.....letih membaca.....haha
what a nice trip report.....how much are the cost staying & diving (9 dives i supposed) with SJ, excluding flight ticket, just curious......
maybe i should follow your food step next year..... :grin:
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Re: Scuba Junkie--Island Combo 10/09 thru 12/09/12

Post Number:#6  Postby raffidi » Sun Sep 23, 2012 5:58 pm

mamakpenang,
Been talking to bro decimal86 and we are planing a mass trip diving out of Semporna (as per his report) from the 11th-15th Mar 2013. The cost minus flight would be around RM867 (final figure once finalize number of divers).Dives RM645, Room RM172 per person twin sharing. Airport Semporna transport RM50. Interested?
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Re: Scuba Junkie--Island Combo 10/09 thru 12/09/12

Post Number:#7  Postby decimal86 » Tue Sep 25, 2012 4:49 am

folks, mark your calendars next year. Let's meet in Semporna and dive!
alamak, the tank goes at the back??
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Re: Scuba Junkie--Island Combo 10/09 thru 12/09/12

Post Number:#8  Postby decimal86 » Tue Sep 25, 2012 4:54 am

raffidi wrote:Bro Decimal86,
Nice report and yes it's worth the time and money diving from Semporna. Glad you had a great time. But why was your trip to TWU so much? On average it cost RM550 -RM600 on Air Asia.


Last minute booking. It was 2weeks to the date when I booked the flt. Everything last minute. But still worth the time and money. Because it really is a jewel right at home in Malaysia!
alamak, the tank goes at the back??
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Re: Scuba Junkie--Island Combo 10/09 thru 12/09/12

Post Number:#9  Postby decimal86 » Tue Sep 25, 2012 4:59 am

b541314 wrote:hi guys,

i am a new diver, intended to gain some dive experience b4 head over to mabul n simpadan mid 2013.

appreciate the input by decimal86 and terjuntiruk.

hopefully more input b4 i finalise my mabul simpadan explore. thanks


Join us? We are a non-profit group! Intentionally of course. raffidi is organizing with SJ for a good deal. I know it's better than the one I paid. And it's always more fun in a bigger group?
alamak, the tank goes at the back??
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Re: Scuba Junkie--Island Combo 10/09 thru 12/09/12

Post Number:#10  Postby decimal86 » Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:02 am

terjuntiruk wrote:Nice one bro.
Dived with SJ a few years back. Stayed in their backpacker-style room. Got own toilet. The room only had one lightbulb and very basic. Back then most of their staffs were non-Malaysian (read ex-pat) except for the counter staffs and boatmen. Dived Sibuan, Kapalai and Mabul. Did not managed to dive Mantabuan, maybe next time. I heard Mantabuan and Siamil have good macro.

When we were at Sibuan, there were a group of people (Malaysian? Philipino?) who were having a beach party. They brought their own stove, tong gas, mini compo and tent. Their music were very loud. They must have scared all the macro from Sibuan as I did not see much.

Have dived Seaventures many time before. The current can be very strong esp toward the later of the day. Once we had to hold on the rope for dear life at 5m while doing the safety stop. Look around and saw everybody were doing Superman action. Just pray that my camera did not slip out of my hand. A few divers surface at the other end of the rig. From my observation during my stay on the rig, noticed that the best time to dive there is in the morning when the current is very much slack.


Doc, thks for your info on Seaventure. Yes 3 times that I was there the current was very strong. My wife does not like Seaventure. Hey next year lah we dive together? And where is Ketam all this while?
alamak, the tank goes at the back??
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Re: Scuba Junkie--Island Combo 10/09 thru 12/09/12

Post Number:#11  Postby Daylight » Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:05 pm

cant wait for my trip there.. *drooling*
diving is AWESOME!!!!
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Re: Scuba Junkie--Island Combo 10/09 thru 12/09/12

Post Number:#12  Postby terjuntiruk » Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:02 pm

Bro decimal86,

Actually seaventures is a very good macro dive site. They have lot of stuff down there. Ribbon eel, frog fish, flamboyant, blue ring, pygmy cuttlefish, numerous nudis, lot of crocodile n scorpion fish. In fact, last time there was a pygmy seahorse but now RIP already. The drawback are the current and the depth. Your bottom time is a bit limited as it is at 18m deep.

Next year plan sound very good. If I got clearance from Home Minister, I will be there.

Yeah, where is ketam?
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Re: Scuba Junkie--Island Combo 10/09 thru 12/09/12

Post Number:#13  Postby massive headwound » Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:47 pm

Hey all,

Have any dived with Scuba Junkie the Mabul Island resort? any hints, reviews? So far i have only been to seaventures once (my body almost aten by bed lice- never went back; once with Borneo divers and a few times with SWV... how do Scuba junkie compare? i am leaving this deepavali weekend...

how are the DMs? the resort? all notes welcomed...

Cheers
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Re: Scuba Junkie--Island Combo 10/09 thru 12/09/12

Post Number:#14  Postby b541314 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:04 pm

decimal86 wrote:Join us? We are a non-profit group! Intentionally of course. raffidi is organizing with SJ for a good deal. I know it's better than the one I paid. And it's always more fun in a bigger group?


sorry for the late reply. i read about your new thread, dives from semporna, awhile back. but i cannot join u guys coz i will be at perhentian or redang island then. Thanks  :azn:
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Re: Scuba Junkie--Island Combo 10/09 thru 12/09/12

Post Number:#15  Postby decimal86 » Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:54 am

b541314 wrote:
decimal86 wrote:Join us? We are a non-profit group! Intentionally of course. raffidi is organizing with SJ for a good deal. I know it's better than the one I paid. And it's always more fun in a bigger group?


sorry for the late reply. i read about your new thread, dives from semporna, awhile back. but i cannot join u guys coz i will be at perhentian or redang island then. Thanks  :azn:


bro' put the perhentian and redang trip to some other time lah...come join us? so many ppl already going..12 at last count. when you ever going to get so many MUW ppl scantily dressed? hehehehee

if you were going with frens to east coast malaysia, bring them along. its more fun if we do it together !!
alamak, the tank goes at the back??
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