Sabah #2: Garama River Cruise


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December 29th 2015
Published: February 18th 2016
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A day of recovery after three pretty full on days. We tried to sleep until late, but failed miserably, our bodies are just used to getting up early. We headed out to the beach near the Kota Kinabulu yacht club. The tide was out so there was plenty of space on the beach and barely a soul in sight. This place is a hidden gem, only a few locals taking a rest under the shade of a tree. We took a bit of a walk along the beach, it was so peaceful. We could see a couple of islands in the distance. There were loads of little crabs scuttling along the beach, we tried our best not to step on any. I also saw a big stork like bird taking a little paddle in the waves. The sun was pretty fierce, so our walk wasn't too long.

We took a cab back to the city centre to get some lunch. I have to say the 'My Teksi' app is awesome, really good for getting a taxi, especially when you are a bit out of the way like we were. We decided to go to Ang's Hotel for lunch as it had looked really busy the night before. However, it was shut when we arrived. Time for a plan B. We looked at a couple of other Chinese places and settled on the second one. This place was really busy with lots of locals on their lunch breaks. There was a lot of choice at this restaurant (I forgot to find out its name), first you pick what kind of noodles you want and then add toppings. I chose the medium thickness noodles and went for the topping that was called something like house special variety. We also ordered some veggies to share and I had a strong cup of coffee to wash it down with. The food was really good, I'm not normally a fan of noodles, but these ones were delicious. They had pork belly, roasted pork and omelette style egg rolls on top, so good. I could have happily eaten two portions.

Later in the afternoon, around 2 pm, we were picked up to go on our river cruise trip. The bus was nice and fairly big, so we could stretch out a bit. We drove for about two hours, maybe a little longer, picking up a few others on the way, and taking a quick rest stop, too. We were quite surprised a t how far we had come. When we checked google maps, we were about half way to Brunei! That was a surprise. Eventually, we turned off the main road and we drove down a track. We had arrived at the base camp, at Garama village, next to Garama river. The base camp seemed to be under a bit of construction. It looked like it would be a really cool place to stay, if you wanted a few days away from civilisation. There was a large covered patio area, where we sat and had some rice cakes, banana fritters, and tea and coffee. The view was gorgeous, as we were right nest to what I think were rice fields.

Once we were fed and watered, and had hired some binoculars, we donned life jackets and headed down to the boat. It was an open boat, not to big, but enough room for everyone to sit down comfortably without being on top of one another. I think there were maybe 12 of us altogether. The first part of the river is quite narrow and there was a lot of dense woodland surrounding us. We passed one boat, that would be the only other boat we would see. We had this stretch of river all to ourselves. We saw quite a big monitor lizard stretched out on one of the tree branches that was above us. I think it was asleep as it was lying there quite content. We came out onto the main part of the river. It was a lot wider here. It was beautiful, so peaceful. We did spot quite a few monkey, at first we only saw Macaque monkeys, these are a lot more common than the Probocis Monkeys. The monkeys were all high up in the trees, it was definitely a good idea to get the binoculars.

The monkeys were all happily playing in the trees. We did see some of the Proboscis Monkey, but I only saw the female ones, which look more like regular monkeys. The male ones are the more distinguished. They have long red noses, that look rather phallic. We spent about a couple of hours cruising along the river and back. Whenever anyone spotted some monkeys, we would stop so that we could all
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have a good look. There were also meant to be crocodiles in the area, but we didn't spot any of those. I think our guide said that they were only little ones, so wouldn't harm us. Glad we didn't get to find out. It was so peaceful out on the river. We only came across two houses, near the end of our route, one of which belonged to the captain of our boat. The sun was starting to set and as we cruised back towards base we were treated to a pretty sunset. We also saw a big herd of water buffalo cooling off in the river. That was nice to see. The water buffalo are worth quite a lot of money. It was dark by the time we got back to base camp. Dinner was ready, but there was a power cut, so we had to start our dinner in the dark. Not that it really mattered. The food was buffet style, which was nice, nothing amazing but good and filling. Sweet and sour hard boiled eggs was a new one for me, nice but not something I would rush to eat again. Luckily, the power came back on
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Garama Village
so I could see what I was eating.

After dinner, we headed back out on the boat. It was pitch black by this point. Our guide stood at the front of the boat with a torch to light the way for the captain. It felt really peaceful, it was so nice being in the middle of nowhere surrounded by nature, not urban development. We saw a few fireflies buzzing about but not too many. They looked so pretty, it's hard to believe that they are real, one of Mother Nature's awesome creations. We retraced or route from earlier and came out onto the main stretch. The boat travelled up the river and we came across a tree that was filled with fireflies. Our guide called it 'Nature's Christmas Tree', it looked amazing! The fireflies lit up the tree so brightly. They were twinkling on and off, so it really did look like those fairy lights we put on Christmas trees. I could have watched the tree for hours in awe, it's so hard to believe that it is natural, but at the same time so amazing! There were some fireflies in the air, quite close to the boat. Our
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guide said that some people have fallen out of the boat in their quest to catch a firefly. After a while, it was time to head back to shore. I was sad to leave these magical creatures. We returned to base camp and got the bus back to Kota Kinabulu. The journey back took about two hours.


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