28.08.2006 30 °C
A small update on our 3 days-2 nights June outing the Paradise Island Semporna. Pointers for August or maybe July trippers.
1435 arrived Tawau via Kota Kinabalu from Miri. Hunt for supplies : bottled water, biscuits, dried fruits, camping gas cylinders, canned tuna, longan in syrup, rambutan in syrup, bread, nescaffe in a can, slippers etc. See Note 1.
1900 dinner in Tawau.
2100 drove to Semporna arrived 2230, check-in at Seafest hotel. Met up Azuma (lives in Semporna) for small logistics discussion for next day's activity. Off to bed 2400 or thereabouts. See Note 2.
0530 Friday met up with Rabani at the jetty point in front of Seafest. shot sunrise while waiting for boatmen. Boatmen arrived 0700 and head for Paradise. See Note 3.
0800 on island. Formalities with the elders of the village and introduction to Ketua Kampung and Pak Imam. Informed by Ketua Kampung and Pak Imam that we will not be camping ... they gave us a bachelor hut to stay in. They also agreed to cook us simple food for lunch and dinner. See Note 4 and 5.
0930 start shooting.
1130 wander back to village. Was informed by Ketua Kampung he's upgrading us to another stand alone hut ... cooler, cleaner with a small verandah and own kitchen area.
1200 lunch and dip in the sea.
1300 long nap
1600 chit chat with village elders and children
1700 shoot around island
1800 dinner and dip in the sea.
1900 chit chat with village elders and children. playtime. see Note 6
2345 world cup ... but fuel for generator ran out after about 30 minutes!
0145 sleep after chit chat and coffee.
0400 nature call and watch the waves.
0600 shoot the island circuit
1200 dip and beachcombing (wo camera)
1300 dip again
1600 potrait time.
1700 candids around the village. dip.
1900 chit chat and play. introduce thumb wrestling.
2000 chit chat and play, swap stories and drink milo. Night shots.
2100 ocho-ocho time ... party
2300 crab race (a variation of the kura-kura race for Kelantan)
0400 nature call watch lightning across the other islands.
0600 shoot around village
0800 dip with the children and explore the beach. breakfast.
0900 chit chat with villagers, swapping stories. more candids.
1200 chit-chat and candids.
1600 leave island. Spend the night in Tawau.
Don't overdo the supplies but do bring plenty of water. Between the 3 of us, we consumed 72 500 ml bottles of water over 3 days, some we shared with the villagers during lunch or chit-chat. The 24 cans nescaffe were good for chit-chat. We opened up only 1 of the 6 cans of rambutan/syrup cans, rest donated to the kids via the Ketua Kampung. Two big cans of assorted biscuits were never consumed, donated to the children via the Ketua Kampung. Leftovers 2.5 loaves of bread. Consumed only 3 cans of tuna out of 8, left behind.
Best to leave really early to the island so overnighting in Semporna on the way in is better. Perhaps bring some snack for breakfast on the boat.
We paid $250 in total for the boat (2x boats, the other to carry suppplies), $100 in advance for them to buy diesel. The boat we had were rather small in comparison to the ones we had in April ... we were soaking wet on the way back. Need to explore other options from other operator better prices and better boat. We also made contact with a local boatman for exploring the islands.
It was impressed upon the village head that our safety is in their hands. They looked after our things like a hawk, perhaps they also felt the need to make sure we are not there to make kacau.
Plenty of fresh fish, squid and siput. The food is as fresh as it can get, even the dried salted fish taste better. Bajau Laut prefer tapioca over rice! We made a slip of asking for simple meals (eat what they eat) AND rice. Other than the fact that rice is expensive, they don't seemed to enjoy eating rice. One pack of tapioca cost $2.50 , last for a week and they loved it. We went tapioca only on the last day. They appreciate the gesture very much and it's delicious! The makcik's smile was really very wide after we gobbled up the putu (tapioca cubes with a consistency of pulut) she made.
Best time to visit we collectively agreed is infact during full moon. The whole village was well lit by the moonlight and villagers were actively running around till 3 AM. Some continue working during the night: splitting firewood, catching squids etc etc. Rabani and Peterkan caught the children making artwork by tracing and drawing on the sands. An impromptu party started off just after the moon made a apprearance on our second night. A guitar and more than a handful of volunteers performing the ocho-ocho in turns.
When we left the island we left all our surplus food (2 big unopened cans of assorted biscuits, 5 cans of rambutan/longan in syrup,6 cans of tuna, 4 camping gas canisters, assorted instant noodles and instant drinks) slipped $150 into the hands of the Ketua Kampung and $50 into the hands of the Pak Imam. The kids got a treat from the local grocery store. We also bought a 10kg ($30?) sack of rice and 4 packs of tapioca ($10) for the village head.
UC Heaven on Earth Resort hasn't quite got off the ground just yet, this homestay type that we tested in the village might be a better option for now. The headman assures us that if he can't find us a nice hut to live in he'll put us up at the surau, the Pak Imam duly agreed.