"Once upon a time, an old blind man lived on Pulau Timbun Mata (Shut-Eye Island). He often sat in the sun outside his house looking after paddy which his son had placed there to dry. Whenever chickens came to eat the paddy, he used a long stick to bang the ground to chase them away.
One day, his grandson played a trick on him. He caught a couple of crabs on the beach and placed them on the paddy. They made a noise just like chickens eating the paddy. The old man banged on the ground with his stick. But the crabs were not frightened. They continued to eat the paddy.
“Ha, ha, ha!” laughed the boy.
Suddenly, there was a terrible roar like the firing of cannon. An old man with a long white beard appeared in a cloud of smoke.
He pointed his wand at the boy. “You should never laugh at your grandfather,” he said, “especially just because he is blind.”
Before the boy could answer, a strong wind started to blow and the sky became black. A cloud of red smoke shot out of the top of a hill in the centre of the island. Tons of rock and boiling mud were thrown high into the air. All the houses on the island were destroyed and everyone living on the island was turned into stone.
Even today, if people visit the island, all they can see are some strange-looking rocks which look like people."
Pulau Timbun Mata is a Malay island on the east coast of Sabah, where there is the Sulu Sea, this part of which is called Darvel Bay. This Darvel Bay is located between Lahad Datu and Semporna.
Tambun Mata is not a holiday island, but some still want to visit the island. The few curious domestic tourists come for a walk on weekends. There are some settlements on Timbun Mata, which represent very little. Many residents live in houses on stilts above the water. They belong to the Bajau. The Bajau traditionally hunt underwater. The traditional housing at Semporna consists of wooden houses on stilts above the sea water. Some of these people live by hunting underwater by spearing fish, sea cucumbers and octopuses. She is known as 'sea nomads or sea gypsies'. They can remain submerged in water for a long time. It has been found that this is possible because the spleen, which releases oxygen-rich blood for longer than normal during the underwater stay.
There are dirt roads in certain parts of the islands, which are not connected to each other. The best roads are the waterways. There are no overnight accommodations, but it is worth a visit for a day's walk and to climb the highest, cone-shaped mountain (Tannabalu). The mountain is a 596 meter high extinct volcano with large boulders on the slope. The Tannabalu is located in the middle of the island. Of course you will also find beaches to cool off after the
climb. You can book a day trip from Semporna. All the rivers on Timbun Mata, which are usually not mentioned by name, flow into Darvel Bay.
The island is located about 20 kilometers northwest of Semporna and is the largest island in the south of Darvel Bay. The island used to be densely forested, but due to logging, it is still partly forested. The maximum length of the island is about 30 km, the maximum width of about 10 km. From the flat west coast, it rises steadily to Mount Tannabalu, which lies approximately in the center of the island. A second peak - the 518 meter high mountain Sedungal - rises on the east side of the island. The island is separated by a narrow strait called Trusan Sigalong from the mainland. The western tip of the island is called Tanjung Mata Manuk. There are swampy areas on the south coast, in the west and in the northeast.
The island has been inhabited for a long time. There are several settlements: Mantandak in the west, Lakai Lakai in the north, Dap Dap in the northeast and Kubor and Tambanan in the east. In addition, there are several illegal settlements in the southeast of the island.
Teak was planted on the island from the 1880s. 1930 Pulau Timbun Mata was declared a forest reserve. The teak forests were then monitored regularly, but the stock was significantly reduced by roads, illegal logging and land clearing. You will see many grassy hills when you arrive by sea from Semporna.
Semporna has a nice museum. A large part is devoted to the life of the Bajau. There is even a Bajau boat on display in the museum. Admission to the Tun Sakaran Museum is free.