Well when you look at any Tourism Malaysia brochure, or any diving websites, you’ll read about Labuan…a strange offshore financial centre run from KL. Why was I heading here? Good question, but to be honest, it had a bit to do with (ducks my head) ticking off a country for once…I mean Brunei is so close to Kota Kinabalu and I decided to take the ferry there, which means via Labuan. Now I had heard horror stories of this ferry journey from a fellow Raleigh staffer, but I was branching out on my own, so it was a time for an adventure. Also, to be honest, a large part of it had to to with three of four amazing WWII wrecks which sit just off the coast, and a really cool sounding Marine Park as well – I’d be able to snorkel at the very least. Although…when I went looking for dive operators to take me here it wasn’t an easy task. My faithful friends at Borneo Divers had suspended operations there, and the Tourism ‘Action’ Council for Labuan never responded to my emails.
Anyway, my flight from Brunei to KL was booked so off I went. The hotel desk couldn’t even tell me where to find the boats to the marine park so I never bother asking them about the diving. I took this as a sign and had my one long lie in four months and sacked off the visit, to waste away a day killing time and catching up with myself.
Just as well…I went to Tourism Malaysia and they told me where to get the boats, but not the price. I found the boats, fully stocked with life jackets but “no-one is booked tomorrow, and its 250RM to hire the boat” – around 36 quid. No way for a snorkel and a sunbathe. I went to the dive operator who’s leaflet I found in the tourist place…and they were locked up, despite having a dive shop with kit in it. Incase you stumble on this post trying to arrange the same thing – do it with a group and try contacting Borneo Star Dive in Labuan.
Anyway, I had no interest in seeing war or chimney museums or heading to a deserted beach on the other side of the island, so I went for a haircut, and caught up with a few things at the deserted Sheraton Hotel pool. They’re not wasted days though – I would have always wandered what it was like if I didn’t go.
There are a few good things I found though – a cheap food market, cheap beer, and generally a place cheaper than KK due to it’s Duty Free status.