Mamutik Island, Malaysia

April 3 – 4

*This is an unfinished blog post. There are some notes below, but I will fill in the details later. My folder of Mamutik Island, Malaysia pics can be viewed here.


Sick of being stuck in the city (I came to Borneo for wildlife, dammit!) and frustrated by my sluggishness and inability to book anything last minute, I took a boat to Pulau Mamutik.

Mamutik Island is one of the islands that are part of Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. I chose that one because it was supposed to have the best snorkeling and be more desolate (there is no accommodation except for camping). I planned to camp there for 1 night – maybe 2. Kent let me store some of my stuff at his place, he packed me a bunch of leftover curry to take with me, and he even offered to wash all my dirty laundry while I was away. What a super duper host.

The boats for the islands take off from a jetty at the edge of the city center. I wasn’t really sure how it all worked, so I just walked up to the first ticket stand I saw. It wasn’t until after I had already paid and was sitting down to wait for the boat that I saw many different ticket stands with different company names (and probably many different, cheaper prices). They were all screaming over each other to get the customers to buy tickets from their stand. It was stupid of me to assume that there would be only one boat company. And I suspect I could have just ignored the middle men all together and worked out an arrangement with one of the boat drivers directly. If I ever go back to one of these islands, I’ll try that instead. But it didn’t really matter. I got to the island pretty painlessly.

And as the boat pulled up to the shore, I could see that the water was full of tiny fish.

Met Canadian family who adopted me for the day. Invited me to pack up my tent and stay with them at their fancy hotel. I was feeling indecisive at the moment and kinda liked the idea of camping alone on an island. So I told them I would stay on the island that night and email them the next day if I decided to go back to KK. We all snorkeled together that day though.

After the Canadians left for the day, I went back to snorkel some more.

This fish looks fake, but it’s not. I think she was getting so close to me to protect her babies that were in the sea anemone.

Some fish were really curious.

Interesting coral

I even snorkeled with my socks.

I loved spending all day snorkeling and then having my own little corner of the island to retreat to. And after all the boats left for the day, I had the whole place to myself.

Well, I did have one friend.

Together we watched the sun go down behind all the crazy clouds.

Truthfully though, the idea of camping on the island was nicer than the actual sleep was. It was hot, sticky, and there were lots of sand flies.

But nothing could beat waking up in the morning before all the people arrived and running straight out into the water.

The boats of people hadn’t arrived yet, so I had the island to myself in the morning too.

After swimming in the water and walking around the island (which took about 20 minutes), I collected some shells and decorated the picnic bench near my campsite.

In the afternoon though, the picnic tables around my tent were full of people doing a diving course. The dive instructor was really nice and invited me to share their coffee and breakfast as an apology for taking over my campsite. And he pointed out a poisonous centipede hanging out near my tent, which he kindly moved away with a rake.

I did end up leaving the island later that day and trying to meet up with the Canadian family. But we weren’t able to get in touch with each other. And by the time I was back on land, I knew I had made a mistake. I spent the whole day wandering around the city wishing I was back on the island.

Eventually I got in touch with Kent and he picked me up to bring me back to his place. I thought I would be leaving KK the next day, but it was Kent’s birthday…so instead I stayed in town and did more trip planning until he got off work.

That night to celebrate his birthday, we ate roti canai at a mall food court, drove to another mall food court to meet his work friends for dinner, then we visited one of his friends at her coffee shop.


*No spitting signs are common, but lots of people still spit.

*Of course, as beautiful as the island was, there was still trash in the water. Sad.

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