Diving, Guitars and Friends

With the need to wait for a renewed coast guard document, as my renewal form seems to have been lost, we headed back to Mabul for some more fun, friends and diving.We anchored in the same spot as before and contacted my good friend Vanessa at Billabong Diving. She warmly greeted us and offered to have us join her guests for dinner.

After introducing Eedra, I asked if there were any openings for diving Sipidan again.As before, she found us a way to do it. The dive boat picked us up at Furthur and we joined the great Swiss dive guide and two local guides along with a very international group of divers. As before the diving was epic, the Barracuda Point dive lived up to its name as a huge school of teethy fish swam by. The last of three dives was at Hanging Gardens, a long wall dive. I lost count of the turtles we saw. It was; turtle, shark, turtle, shark, turtle, turtle,turtle and then turtle and shark in the same view.

Back at the dive center I met a group from Thailand, a brother/sister and friends. I got to know them well and we made arrangements to meet in Thailand in the fall. Just another reason I am looking forward to Thailand.

Two cyclones just up in the Philippines raised havoc with our weather as the wind pounded the small island for a couple of days. Combined with the unusually active current prompted by the full moon, diving was limited. We did manage to sqeeze in at least one dive a day. We hired a boatman from Vanessa’s group, Hussein,who took us to some dive spots. He is a young man learning the trade. He seemed to be very happy driving Grateful Diver and waved with a huge smile to all his friends as we sped by. Having a “live boat” was a luxury that we appreciated. We dove several times“under the platform”, the old oil rig turned dive center sat on top of a plethora of underwater debris which formed welcome habitat to massive schools of fish and many species. The eerie tour of the junk turned happy fish home was great fun. Many of the structures had been rearranged to form interesting hiding places for unusual fish. It was fun trying to find them.

Back on the top, we enjoyed leisurely days reading and sharing movies. One of the luxuries of this trip is that I finally have time for major reading projects. For most of my life I have been infatuated with WWII, mostly how it came about. In that quest I tackled two daunting tasks, read Mein Kampf and the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. I finished this task at anchor in peaceful Mabul. Hours of reading, and learning all sorts of disturbing facts and I still do not understand how the German people let this happen, it will always baffle me I am sure. It did happen and to a well educated pragmatic and good people. It is important to learn of this horror as i believe history forgotten is history repeated.

We joined our friends ashore several times for beach parties and dinners. I brought the“beach guitar” and joined some local guys playing on the beach. The last night the Billabong group made a special dinner and I brought the Gibson ashore and we played “every song that driver knew” as the song goes. A young local lad joined me for the rock songs. We had a scrumptious dinner with people from:Italy, Holland, Spain, China, Philippines, Australia and Malaysia and probably some I forgot. It was a night of pure bliss.

So there occurring theme of falling in love with a place and its people then leaving sadly was fulfilled as we raised anchor early the next day and headed back to Tawau, and hopefully our lost paperwork, then off to the next adventure.