Thursday, April 28, 2011

Diving in Layang-Layang

Layang-layang is a tiny island 1h flight north of Borneo. It's man-made and part of the Malaysian territory, only because Malaysia was the quickest country to build an army/navy base on it. Otherwise, Taiwan, the phillipines, and plenty of other countries want to own it, not because of its beautiful corals, fish specimen or sunshine but because of the oil (obviously...). Anyway it is for the former reasons that we are going! After a brief stop in Kota Kinabalu (KK for the locals), we are on our way to LL in a not so tiny plane (we were expecting old Russian army plane as mentioned in the lonely planet so we were positively surprised).
After 1h flight over nothing else than blue sea we finally spot the only bit a ground, it's tiny but it has an airstrip! So let's land.
It's really funny, some people are sun bathing on the side of the airstrip, others are ready to jump back on the plane to go back to KK and a tractor collects our luggage when we go for the briefing. The next 3 days are going to be very simple: get up early, eat small breakfast, dive n1, eat big breakfast, sleep, dive n2, eat lunch, sleep, dive n3, eat tea, sleep, potentially dive n4, eat dinner and sleep. I hope you have well counted the 5 meals a day and the zillion of naps! I'm still not sure what exactly makes you that hungry and that sleepy but I have guessed it has something to do with staying for 1h at 40m depth chasing sharks...
Because the full point of this trip is to see hammerhead sharks and manta rays and the sharks are very very deep; so every morning, we go for long swim at 40m depth in the blue hoping to bump into hammerhead sharks and we got lucky twice! First time was a lonely shark, second time was a school of probably 40 sharks, absolutely amazing! ( I leave it to you to identify the real one from the imitations...)
All credit for under water photos and films goes to K and M who were traveling with us and had a caisson for their camera. We also managed to see a few manta rays, luckily they don't live at 40m depth so we got a bit more time to observe them but we got so absorbed swimming with them that we ended up  with 11 minutes decompression at 5m... But look at the photos, totally worth it !!!!

By the way, hammerhead sharks and manta rays are not the only thing to see in LL, we dived on incredible walls, saw tones of white tip, black tip and grey reef sharks, turtles, some other enormous or colorful fish and lots of lobsters! (which I couldn't stop dreaming of eating...)
The day before flying back we only dived once (and got completely lost in the blue). In order to make us feel better, our dive master and boat man took us to see plenty of dolphins.
During the rest of the day, we caught up with our sleeping (the number of naps hadn't helped...), got a few additional sun burnt, tried to reduce the food intake and made a trip to the bird sanctuary all of that while we were getting rid of all the nitrogen stuck in our bodies!
Now it is time to go back to KK to continue this holiday. This time it's a wildlife cruise in Sabah. See you there!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Birthday celebration

As it is a big birthday this year, it deserved 3 days of celebration! Friday was warm up, before activities on Saturday and food and drinks on Sunday.
Here are a few photos of Saturday: my first flying lesson! R was brave enough to come in the plane with me and take the photos! Miraculously no one was sick! I was close...
 (pay special attention to my landing skills ;-)

And on Sunday, we indulged in champagne brunch followed by Pimm's at the pool. Not a bad way of celebrating a new decade!