10 May 2017

Visiting Semporna

Semporna was founded soon after the British North Borneo Company established Sandakan, and initially settled by Chinese traders, most fleeing from Spanish attack on the Sulu Sultanate. The name Semporna means place of rest (as in Sanskrit "sampoorna" meaning accomplishment i.e. implying completion of a journey into a settlement) and was given after the British quelled resistance from the local Bajaus in the mid-1880s, changing it from Tong Talun. Another story is that Semporna was called place to settle or meeting place by four admirals Panglima Kabogan, Panglima Bum-Bum, Panglima Simunul and Panglima Abdullah.

The majority of the population is Bajau, many of whom live in sprawling stilt villages over the water on the outskirts of town. Also on the sea around Semporna live thousands of people of the Bajau Laut (also known as Sea Gypsies or Sama di Laut). They are one of the few nomadic sea borne peoples of the world and spend most of their lives from birth to old age on board boats, finding a livelihood from the rich coral reefs in the area. Only after death burial takes place on land.
Semporna is located at the tip of Semporna Peninsula around Lahad Datu Bay (also known as Darvel Bay), and is visited by tourists as a base for scuba diving or snorkeling trips to Pulau Sipadan (Sipadan Island), some 36 kilometers southeast of town.
Marine products are still the mainstay of the local economy, as well as tourism. Pearl culturing is a major component of this industry.
The in Semporna, Sabah, Malaysia. Lepa means "boat" in the dialect of east coast Bajau. In this festival, Bajau people decorate their boats with colorful flags.