Sea gypsies make Semporna complete

Last update: 10/02/2019

By Jailani Hasan

SEMPORNA, Feb 10 (Bernama) -- Semporna in Sabah has gained popularity as the gateway to world-famous diving destinations, but one must not discount the Bajau Laut (sea gypsies) who have made it an attraction in their unique way.

Living off wooden boathouses or huts built on stilts atop coral reefs around the islands off Semporna, such as Mabul, Boheydulang, Sibuan, Maiga, Mantabuan, Selakan, Tatagan and Omadal, the nomadic and seafaring Bajau Laut have become a part of the Semporna landscape.

One cannot miss seeing them sell their wares – live lobsters, crabs, fish, clams, mussels and a variety of seashells – to the large number of tourists who frequent this city and the islands.

For the uninitiated, the islands of Boheydulang, Selakan, Sibuan and Mantabuan are part of the Tun Sakaran Marine Park, also known as the Semporna Islands Park, gazetted in 2004 as Sabah’s seventh park.

This Bernama correspondent from Labuan had the opportunity to talk to the sea gypsies as a guest at a Chinese New Year celebration for Chinese tourists on Feb 4 on Mabul Island which draws a steady stream of domestic and foreign tourists annually.....