Turtle Island – Rip Off or Turtlefest – Day 76 – 4 Apr

As previously mentioned we were somewhat worried about what today would have in store for us – all we had been given was an idea of the jetty to go to and no name or tour agency just a couple of phone numbers for our hotel back in Kota Kinabalu, what would transpire? First off I asked one taxi driver for a ride to the jetty and he proceeded to make out that he did not even know where the jetty was and that it would cost loads – no way Jose. A second taxi driver though knew what we were on about so off we went. At the jetty a man in green seemed to know about the trip but as there were no other tourists waiting we were still a bit nervy but then it settle our nerves he then simply disappeared!! Had we been stitched up?

The appointed time for travel came and went and we were just starting to sweat a bit and it was not because of the excessive temperatures either. Finally a smiling man in a boat came up and introduced himself as our captain to take us across to the island, big sighs of relief as everything really did seem good to go – still there were no other passengers so we naturally assumed we were to join others when we reached the fabled Island of Turtles. The crossing took a good hour but it was quite scenic with plenty of houses on stilts and lots of boat traffic to look at as we sped by

The island was simply that and from our landing point on the beach seemed quite deserted and there waiting for us on the beach was our guide – I would love to say that I remember his name as he was a great guy all the time we were there but alas my brain has (yet again) let me down. The backpacks were collected by a man with a wheelbarrow – no mean feat is it to wheel two heavy backpacks through fine sand! We went past the turtle hatchery and on to our accommodation – brand new four-man tents built for two people which looked great as each had new bedding, furniture etc to boot on the inside, and it turned out the only people staying there were us!

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The tent where me and Carruthers were due to spend our days … poor us!

There were more people looking after us than you could shake a stick at – this was luxury folks flashpacker style.

At this stage we were now beginning to feel like royalty and first was a spot of lunch by the edge of the sea and a chance for the guide to explain the course of events for the day and night that we would be staying. We were to begin by him taking us on a trek of the island which although we thought it was uninhabited actually had a small village on the other side of it where our guide lived. The village was quite small but lots of the gardens were very well tended with many flowers and fruit trees. He showed us the village school which was really cool and even though it was small had everything needed – we went into a classroom and saw the tiny desks. The only thing that would have made it better would have been to be there when the classes were full of pupils. Liz would have have been in her element and possibly enjoyed another ‘Cianjur moment’ I think, interacting with kids and perhaps teaching them some bad English again.

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Kids desks at the village school – could be anywhere in the World!

The lift back from the village was a bit unusual to say the least as we had three armed police accompanying us on the little fishing boat we took which then, a couple of hundred metres from our beach, actually got stuck in the shallows and needed a push to turn round so we had to wade the rest of the way back to land. Our guide showed us starfish and a sea cucumber which squirted when he picked it up which was most amusing!

On the way back from the beach we went to the turtle hatchery.

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Turtle Hatchery where the little tykes emerge

When turtles come to lay their eggs on the beach the guides then collect the eggs and put them into the hatchery where they are protected by a mesh fence from predators. The guides then release the turtles in small amounts so there is less chance of them being picked off by birds or fish and this would be what we would be doing tonight! Also, if we were very lucky and a turtle landed to lay their eggs the guides would wake us and we could watch this happening – it was all so exciting so we went for a siesta to ready ourselves for the evening’s events.

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Once again, their was food awaiting us when we awoke and it was delicious and as the Sun started to go down and the Moon came into view a curious thing started to happen. As the sky darkened a shadow started to appear across the Moon. We were only witnessing a lunar eclipse – this was amazing – and with no light pollution too.

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I have seen some things on this trip so far and this was one of those really special ones. Then it was made even better if that is possible as it was now time to release ‘the boys’. I had named our four hatchlings – William, Harry, Ringo and Phillip and it was now up to me and Liz to set them off, the wee things. I fancied the drop kick technique (not really, they were soooo cute … lol) but as they were so small I thought better of it! We lowered them into the water but this being new to them I do not think they realised the part they were supposed to play – the swimming out to sea bit.

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‘Goodbye now lads, remember to write now and then when you can’ ‘Goodbye Daddy’ ‘Goodbye Harry’

By torchlight we encouraged, coaxed and cajoled our ‘boys’ out into the Sea but they were so very small and the Sea is so very big and unforgiving. It was a difficult task for them but eventually each got the hang of it or hit a lucky wave and off they went. I do hope the little fellas are okay wherever they are (Sob, Sniffle!). The whole night had been perfect so we turned in back to the tent and relaxed on the bed which was loverly and comfortable, five star luxury – glamping (camping with bells on and a butler or two!). As it turned midnight it was now officially our Wedding anniversary so I ended the day by putting ‘our song’ on – Aerosmith, Don’t want to miss a thing. I had secretly downloaded it earlier in our travels for just this occasion and cuddled up to the missus – a bit soppy but a bit loverly too!

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