Kalimantan '08 - Indonesian Borneo - Nabucco and Sangalaki
What a trip! We'd wanted to extend our Borneo diving after visiting, what is now very busy, Sipadan 4 years ago, but Sangalaki had been off the radar for a while. Finally it was due to open again so we jumped at the chance to be there first but thought it would be prudent to spread our time between two islands in the area just in case things weren't quite ready...
Nabucco is a very small island within Maratu atoll which is off the South Eastern coast of Indonesian Borneo - the province of Kalimantan. It is close to the better known islands of Derewan, Sangalaki and Kakaban. Those were the ones we were aiming for but life is far from straightforward out here so we thought we should have safe start in the area. This didn't turn out to be our best decision ever...
Sangalaki may stand alone now as the iconic Borneo diving island - since Sipadan is within easy reach of crowds and ringed by resorts. Like Sipadan the island was recognised as special by Ron Holland and set up to his plan when he realised Sipadan was now just too well known. Unfortunately Ron (who I've never met so this is just public domain information) had health issues and the island setup hiccuped badly a few years ago and has only just reopened. Ron has passed the Torch to Jeremy Stein who has had great success promoting Vietnam as a dive destination and the signs for the future are rosy... however that was not the assessment we got from the nice manager (now departed) on Nabucco. We approached the island with trepidation and a backup plan, which thankfully we didn't need!
Going through Singapore and already seen the good bits? Fancy staying out of town and having a quiet stopover next time? We did so we stayed in Changi village at the West end of the island. We couldn't find the botanical gardens or the museum in our short visit but we had a pleasant evening walk along the boardwalk past the Yacht Club and fun food at a street cafe. It was a pleasant chance to recover after the flight from the UK without the hustle of the main city centre but not a must-see. Changi, which means tree, was the location of a large Japanese POW camp which was the inspiration for the film King Rat...
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