Living on stilts

Thousands of travellers visit Mabul-Sipadan, Malaysia each year. Rarely do we get to see where and how the locals live.

The big draw in this area is scuba diving in Sipadan, an island close by that offers some of the world’s best diving. Probably the best diving I’ve ever experienced.

Workers in the service/tourism sector here work long hours. Many live in housing supplied by the resort in which they work. Some never really know when they’ll get their next day off. If they’re on a regular schedule, they will work six days a week. I met a cabbie in Kota Kinabalu who slept in his car, and saw his wife and children only monthly for a couple of days. My wilderness resort guide lived on site and visited his family on a irregular basis. Incomes are low and workers depend on tips.

Those of us fortunate enough to travel should be grateful, respectful and generous.

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