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Sipadan, where my Barracuda dream came true


View 2009 Scuba with Barracuda on alexchan's travel map.

large_5550_12422113185270.jpgTornado of barracudas. Photo courtesy of Christian Albert.
We boated out to Sipadan [Sipadan-travel-guide-1308044] Island around 8 am. It was sunny and calm. The Dive Master surprised me when he said that we were at Barracuda Point ... where I had specially come to, but not knowing whether I’d be able to dive here due to my lack of experience.

Once in the water, we saw large schools of fish here and there but I wasn’t able to enjoy myself fully ... I had been consuming more air than the others yesterday and I was afraid I’d have to cut short my dive before seeing the barracudas. Fortunately, close to the end, we saw a tornado of them circling. Kim went up to them, wondering if it would be safe to cut across their path!

Barracuda Point, said our Danish dive master, is the third best divespot in the world, according to some ranking.large_5550_12422113185549.jpgBarracudas close up. Photo courtesy of Christian Albert.

We did two more dives, both along the wall (drop-off) and saw many lifeforms including big turtles.

The Sipadan area has many excellent dive sites ... customer demand is very high and numbers are strictly restricted by the authorities to conserve the area. As a result, it isn’t possible to dive Sipadan on its own. One can only dive Sipadan with a multi-day dive package - one day is allowed at Sipadan on a 3-day package while two days with a 4-day package.

Sipadan Island was where the 2000 kidnappings took place. The resort has now been dismantled and an army post has been setup. Some media accuse the Government and dive operators of downplaying the piracy and terrorism risk. You often see stealthy grey inflatable police speedboats staffed by men in black hoods cruising between the islands and the mainland.

The island's name means "border" in Malay / Indonesian. That's quite prophetic as it was the subject of a border dispute ... the British and Dutch colonial masters didn't appear to have tidied up the border and the ambiguity carried through into recent times.

PS: Others who went to Sipadan a day later also saw lots of sharks. But the light and clarity wasn't as good due to dull weather.

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Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Malaysia

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