Kuala Lumpur (KL) Mabul and Sipadan
KL is an amazingly organised city especially if you come from Cebu. i really enjoyed walking around even at night. there lots of temples (Hindu, confutes, buddha) and mosques too. very recommended for people who like cities and shopping!
From KL i flew to Tawau city in Sabah province (east Malaysia) and continued to Sempornaand from there to Mabul (a tiny island). I was recommended By a fellow instructor to contact Uncle Chang since they mostly have avaliable permits to dive in Sipadan Island nature reserve. He was right. I could book 2 diving days in Sipadan (Thanks: Guy Johnny Libano).
Sipadan is a diving heaven. the water is so clear that you almost do not need to use a flash light (in shallow water). there are lots of sharks (white tips, black tips, grey reef sharks and if you are lucky, which I was not hammer heads). lots and lots of turtles (at least 3 sorts) and it is thanks to the turtle sanctuary on Sipadan and the the reason why it a nature resort. (if you book a diving day there, you get to have lunch on the island and are allowed to walk around and see the sanctuary, unfortunately for me I was not lucky to see baby turtles running to sea).
Mabul has some nice dive sites too, but unlike Sipadan it excels in macro (Small Creatures). I’ve seen here my first Pygmy Sea horse and my second Ornate Ghost Pipefish. The island itself is boring if you don’t dive you will find nothing interesting there. There are lots of dive clubs and resorts with a vary range of prices. If you plan to dive in Sipadan, contact the resort you would like to dive with. Do it in advance! the daily amount of permits is limited. every dive club receives the same amount of permits per day. Uncle Chang is NOT a high-end resort but, it was friendly and fun. The food they offer was NOT great but you can buy daily catch from local fishermen and the kitchen will cook it for you for 20RM (about 5$) and that they cook very well. In the evening you get live music, sometimes orgenized and sometimes only guitar and drums from the people who work there, good and relaxed atmosphere.