“Just don’t smile,” Che advised me. Suddenly everything made sense, I wasn’t experiencing hell in paradise. I didn’t realise that a natural reaction to discovering the wonders of the submarinal world was the root of all my problems. After all, I had only learnt to swim properly and overcome my fear of deep water three months earlier!
I had been advised to learn how to scuba dive by my friend’s husband when I mentioned I was heading to Borneo. I signed up for a course with Scuba Junkies, who were based out of Semporna, a tiny village on the south of the Malaysian side of the island. They had just opened a hostel opposite their shop, with a bar that served pizzas to the guests, all of which were on pilgrimage to explore one of the dive world’s meccas. Sipadan is a coral reef island, formed on top of an extinct volcano and is teeming with marine life. There were some serious professionals around, including Scandinavian ice divers and specialist deep sea macro photographers. In comparison I was completely out of my depth.
Who can resist decadent dining, exclusively exploring the seas of a tropical island, topped and tailed with a soupçon of safari? Not I for one! A convenient long weekend, a friend with a tank sized car and a couple of helpful directions later meant I was living that dream. Woop!