Location : Semporna Town, Semporna District, Tawau Division, Sabah, Malaysia.
Semporna is the capital of the Semporna District in the Tawau Division of Sabah, Malaysia. As Semporna is a coastal town, various fresh seafood are readily available, cheap, and delicious.
Semporna is the gateway to diving in world-renowned island paradises like Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai, Mataking, Sibuan, Mantabuan, Siamil and Pom Pom among others. Visitors to Semporna are mainly looking for relaxation, seafood and watersports activities such as scuba diving or snorkelling.
The silver jubilee of Regatta Lepa 2019 was our first ever attendance of this Bajau event in Semporna. Came in from Kuching on a direct flight to Tawau and took a taxi to the busiest spot in Borneo as far as tourism is concerned.
Colourful Bajau sails lined both sides of road leading into Semporna the venue of this annual event. The sky was gloomy and the taxi driver warned us to expect rainy weather during this celebration just like every year.
The taxi driver apologized for having to drop us quite a distance from the hotel as all the streets were densely lined with canopies. So dense that we had to use our handphone GPS to guide us to the hotel.
The air was filled with smoke from the barbeque of all sort of stuff, mostly meaty. It was wet everywhere and we had to keep avoiding stepping on puddles. Most of the stalls were selling repetitive food and souvenirs so it was super boring. It is the same problem with every carnival that organizers are more interested in collecting canopy rentals. Easy money for organizers but boring to visitors. Besides, these hundreds of stall owners would be occupying precious car park spaces with both their vehicles as well as canopies causing massive jam in this tiny little town.
Our first day was taken up mostly checking out the town, government booths and restaurants.
Watching China tourists haggling with the Bajaus in Mandarin was pretty entertaining. All sort of seafood carried around in small buckets, some strange looking ones, are sold directly to these tourists and the restaurants charged a fee for the cooking. Interesting arrangement indeed.
These restaurants built on reclaimed land and overlooking the sea, provide a very relaxing platform to watch all the hustle and bustle of the diving business that has been attracting thousands of Chinese tourists every week despite the threat of kidnappings by Filipino ransom seekers. White tourists are hardly seen here anymore. Semporna is so different from what I used to know.
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