And the bush has friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him, In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended, And at night the wonderous glory of the everlasting stars.

Banjo Paterson (1889)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Borneo - Gaya Island

One of the places that I think you must visit when you go to Sabah Borneo is Gaya Island, just off the main city Kota Kinabalu. We have been there 3 times, mainly because it's just a 15 minute boat ride from KK and the birding can be fun.
We have had many adventures just taking that 15 minute boat ride. The first time we were in Borneo about 10 years ago, we got to the island by taking a trip with 'Freddy Kruger'. Why do I call him that? I wanted to go to the island on a nice slow large boat so we could bird along the way and I don't really like a choppy open ocean as well. What we ended up having is an old wooden speed boat smelling of petrol and an angry-looking guy who looked like Freddy Kruger from the horror movies. He never spoke, just pointed if he wanted you to do something.
We took off from KK at light speed to the island across the choppy sea. What, no life jackets? I tried to tell him to slow down, but eventually gave up. Half way across, he threw he's still lit cigarette away which landed in the back with us, right next to the leaking petrol tank! I quickly put to out. I wanted to live! I looked at my wife Liz who had her eyes shut and I think she was praying.

Every so often we would hit a larger wave and the boat would fly across the sea and crash down again with us hanging on for dear life. In my horror I could see our boat flipping sideways at speed and all of us going to a watery grave!

Somehow we got to the island jetty. It took about another 2 hours to calm down and enjoy our birding, but in the back of our minds we knew that we had to go back with him that afternoon. You don't pay till you get back, just an insurance that they will pick you up again!

On the way back I explained that we wanted to go slow so we could do birding, yep fine. That lasted about 2 minutes and then we were back at light speed! Freddy only slowed down when he saw the water police. I had wondered why he had thrown life jackets at us from somewhere only moments before. Ah yes mr policeman, only happy safe tourists on my boat!
We were so happy to be back at the boat docks at KK and heading for our hotel!!!!

Not Happy!
What do you mean that you're going to try and swim back to KK?

Our second trip to Gaya Island years later, I must say was fine, but our third, last Christmas with our friend Jen was again an adventure.

This time a newer speed boat with a younger guy. We had explained to the guy at the docks who had his boys taking tourists to Gaya, that we wanted to go to our usual spot, the jetty at Ranger headquarters where most birders go. Fine.

As we approach the island, I see we are heading far to the right towards the island water village. I suppose tourists want to go there, but not us. I'd rather do some birding. I try and explain to the young guy that we want the jetty at Park HQ. He stops looks around and still heads towards the water village! I explain about the long jetty and Park HQ, but he doesn't seem to know it, but picks up speed. Now we are heading further right past the water village and into the open ocean! We are heading towards the Philippines?

We finally got him to turn around and get us to the HQ jetty (at an extra cost). We never knew if we would just have kept going? Would we have made it to the Philippines?

Our destination, the jetty at Gaya Island ranger headquarters has been reached yet again.

The forest floor of Gaya abounds with these Black-banded Skinks (Mabuya rudis).

Along on of the trail to the far side of Gaya, a rock overhang supports a small roost of Bent-winged Bats.

The palms around the HQ often provide food for Plain-throated Sunbirds.

So another adventure to Gaya Island ends with the setting sun.


JRandSue said...

Lovely Image.

Wilma said...

Great post. Love the bats and the tales of travel by boat.