mangroves, sunset, fireflies

kawa kawa river

A trip to see the fireflies had been on my to-do list for many years until last Saturday that I eventually got to tick the box for this particular item and officially take it off the list!

I was blessed with a hosted trip by a local travel agent (thank you Luke of Borneo Legend Travel) and I picked the date myself as I really needed to get away from it all for a little while. I survived the two-hour journey from Kota Kinabalu to Kota Belud in the north on a 44-seat coach full of Chinese tourists. Fortunately they were not too rowdy (not until we got to the site anyway 😦 ) and I managed to take a short nap on the way. I kept to myself as I was not in a socialising mood and only chatted with the friendly local tour guide Ricky and our driver Zainuddin when we reached our destination.

The itinerary:
Afternoon tea –> mangrove cruise to look for proboscis monkeys –> sunset –> dinner –> fireflies tour –> home

Alfresco dining…

cafe by the seafront for afternoon tea

cafe by the seafront for afternoon tea

the same cafe at night for dinner

the same cafe at night for dinner

The search for proboscis monkeys begun…

mangrove boat ride on Kawa Kawa River with Mt. Kinabalu in the foreground to search for proboscis monkeys

mangrove boat ride on Kawa Kawa River with Mt. Kinabalu in the foreground to search for proboscis monkeys



close up of the mangroves

close up of the mangroves

I must admit that even for a local like me I had not had the chance to encounter a proboscis monkey in real life so I was rather eager to come face to face with one.  But very sadly, we failed to spot a single proboscis monkey except for a few long-tailed macaques.

The reason that there was no long-nosed and long-tailed pot belly primates in sight was apparent.  Seeing how the serenity of the place and the natural habitat of the wildlife being disturbed by the boats with noisy motors travelling up and down the river carrying 15 or so excited human on board who made all kinds of annoying noises, and with some even whistled trying to get the monkeys to appear eventhough they had been warned to stay quiet prior to the ride, it came as no surprise that the clever primates had all gone into hiding . The circus continued when these human whom I had the misfortune to travel along with got excited after they spotted a few long-tailed macaques and almost all of them decided to stand up in the boat to fight for a spot to take pictures of the monkeys.  Their foolish action had caused the boat to rock from side to side which had resulted in me hanging on tight to the side of the boat for my dear life until the boatman shouted “sit down, sit down, no balance, no balance!”, and only then they stopped the fiasco.

On the way back to the jetty I silently breathed a sigh of relief that everyone was still on board and we had made it out of the mangrove swamp. I blocked out all of the noises and concentrated on the scenery before me that had started to soften in the evening sun.

mongrove boat ride (6)

mongrove boat ride (5)

What we failed to find…

A fellow blogger has kindly lent me a few of his pictures — a sincere thanks to Murphy Ng (you can find his blogs on Sabah at
proboscis monkey (1)

proboscis monkey (3)

proboscis monkey (2)

Beautiful sunset…

We came back to where the cafe was after the boat ride and all sprinted to the beach for the sunset. The sun set so quickly and within minutes it had disappeared below the horizon…
sunset (1)

sunset (2)

sunset (3)

sunset (4)

sunset (5)

sunset (6)

Fireflies, starry sky and silverish blue plankton…

After dinner we hopped on the coach again to the same jetty that was 3 minutes’ away from the cafe, put on the life jacket one more time and got on the boat for the firefly tour. This time Ricky the guide asked me to get on the same boat with him after I relayed the unpleasant experience I had during the earlier boat ride. The boat went the opposite direction from the proboscis monkey ride and the first thing we noticed was how beautiful the starry sky was. A few minutes later we spotted the first few of the fireflies and that was when the loud oohs and ahhs began…

Being an amateur photographer with a very simple camera I was unable to capture what we saw on film nor could I explain what I had encountered in words… the countless fireflies that turned the trees by the riverbank into Christmas trees, the absolutely breathtaking and awe-inspiring starry sky and the amazingly beautiful silverish blue plankton witnessed in the river when the hull of our boat cut through water could only be experienced!

I turned to Murphy Ng again for this picture of the fireflies...

I turned to Murphy Ng again for this picture of the fireflies…

your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s