6:30 Breakfast time.... very early for a vacation day, but we are having a long day ahead of us, so it was good to make an early start.
I was sad to leave Sukau as I had such a fantastic time here. The wildlife was amazing and I enjoyed every minute of our two days on the river. But it is time to pack our bags now, take a bite to eat, forget how early it is in the day, and head for our new destination.... Libaran Island!
We are heading for Libaran Island today, but where exactly is it? Libaran Island is part of the Turtle Island Park a Marine Park consisting of a series of three islands: Selingan, Bakungan Kecil and Gulisan. The Turtle Island Park is located in the eastern part of Sabah (Borneo, Malaysia) in the Sulu Sea. It is only 40 minutes by boat from Sandakan, the main city on the east coast of Sabah.
Remember that bumpy road I had to take to get to Sukau??? (See my Sandakan page). Well, those same 25 kilometres long bumpy, dusty road is our fate again to head back.... aiks. But I survived it luckily (again), hahaha, and after that it was smooth sailing for almost the whole way to Libaran Island.
To get to Libaran we are driving in the direction of Sandakan. The roads are good, the trip relaxed. Yep, I was one happy traveller :-) Close to Sandakan we made a stop at a big supermarket where stocked up on film (hahaha, and you will need lots of film here on Borneo!). There were also some little food stalls located here as well, and we decided that that was a good excuse to have a quick bite to eat :-) With our stomachs full, my bag filled up with rolls of film, we are on our way again.
From the outskirts of Sandakan it was only a short trip to get to our destination: Padas Village. The last few kilometres were bumpy again. We drove on something they seemed to call 'a road'. Hahaha, but I wasn't sure about that ;-)) Luckily it was only a few kilometres, and maybe you can imagine us feeling relieved when we finally arrived :-))
This picture is rather typical of Padas Village. There is not much to find or do here. It is nothing more than a few houses along the road and a little harbour hidden in the mangrove forest.
You might have gotten a 'bit' worried by looking at the previous two pictures of how I actually would travel from Padas Village to Libaran Island..... Well, I have to admit that I was worried for a second there as well. Hahaha, but I didn't need to be!
The trip was very well organized and the moment we arrived with our bus at Padas Village a super quick boat came racing around the corner, eagerly waiting to bring us to Libaran Island. So all aboard, put your life vests on... hang on to your bags, hats, and everything you can think of.. here we goooo.....
The canals through the mangrove forest were winding a lot and we had no clue what would wait for us around the next corner. But it didn't 'zap' by all that fast all the time though. When we passed the little fishing villages along the way, the boat slowed to a minimum speed, giving us the chance to enjoy the view and take some photos.
When we got out of the mangrove forest we went full speed on to the Sulu Sea towards Libaran Island. The island is located rather close to the shore, so the whole boat trip took about 20 minutes. And 20 enjoyable minutes they were. The blue-green sea, the blue sky, the marvellous sunny warm weather and the wind blowing through my hair.... it felt great!
The moment I stepped out of the boat on the sandy beach of Libaran Island I just felt the positive waves of this place. Being greeted by a cold drink upon arrival didn't hurt either :-)) It was such a warm welcome; I could just feel we were going to have a wonderful time on this little island. And I wasn't disappointed! :-)
We got a little cottage right on the beach where we would stay the night. It couldn't be more perfect. Even if the accommodation was quite basic, it had all we needed. And the view from the cottage.... wow! What could I wish more for!!!
The beach wasn't so big, but the water was perfect. I never had such a big swimming pool just right outside my front door before :-))
And the most amazing thing... we had the island to ourselves! Well, besides the local people in the village that was. We were the only guests on the island for that day, and that made it even more perfect.
This is the view from our cottage. We were protected by the winds from the sea by a view trees. And after that, the beach! And as you can, idyllically located: MY lazy chair. This was truly Lazy Libaran! And I loved it!
It couldn't be more perfect! Just imagine a nice cocktail, beautiful sunshine, and listening to the sound of the waves washing ashore. It sounds like a dream, but it was my reality for the day :-))
Okay, I have to admit it; I couldn't sit still all afternoon and be lazy on the beach. The beach is fun, hahaha, for a little while :-) I guess I am not such a beach person. So in the afternoon I decided to go for a walk around the island. Now there should be a village somewhere on the island, but oops.... would I ever be able to find it???
Hahaha, you actually can't miss the village as the island is very small. But if you are still in doubt this little 'helpful' sign will help you go into the right direction. Hahaha, I had to laugh so much when seeing it, as this sign was posted about 20 metres from the village :-))
The village is a quiet and friendly little place. There are not so many houses, and all are surrounded by lots of palm trees. All in all it looked quite picturesque and it was fun to stroll around in here.
Life in a village like this looks so different to the one I am used to in Sweden. So it was fun to walk around and take some photos of the village, its people and their way of life.
When you walk into the village, one of the first places you will see is the workplace of the boat builder. He is responsible for building all the fishing boats for the village and when we were here he was busy at work.
The most striking thing of the village was its friendly people. Nothing at all here was touristy; I didn't get bothered by anyone, just a curious glance so now and then when I walked around their village. I felt a little bit shy walking here with a camera in my hand. But no one seemed to my mind me being there, they greeted and smiled.
While I strolled along it felt like I was getting out of the village. There were still houses there though, but they were built a bit more apart from each other.
This is an example of the typical building style of these houses. This one, like all the others, was build on poles and had a nice little fence around it to keep all the cattle out of the garden and away from the house.
Most of the houses had these enormous rows of flowerpots on the outside of the house. And not all of them were just in plastic containers like you can see in this picture.
At one place I saw that the flowerpots were made of coconut shells, hanging on a string and painted in a silver colour to give them something special; really creative and fun to see!
But how fun those flowerpots might look, nothing beats the huge amount of wonderful flowers you can see on the shrubs and bushes that are spread around outside the village. The most wonderful flowers you can find here, a pure joy for the eye.
Most houses outside the village had fences around them to keep the cattle out of their gardens, except apparently for this one. The village itself was totally surrounded by fences to keep the cows out.
But oops.... this trick doesn't always work! The cows do get out of their designated areas on a regular basis. When it is low tide they have a chance to escape and walk around where ever they want. Hahaha, so don't be surprised to find a cow or two on the trail blocking your way, or even see them wandering around on the beach :-))
While walking around in the village I also noticed all kinds of 'unknown to me' fruits hanging in the trees. This was one of them and it is called the "Custard Apple Fruit" ore more scientifically the "Annona reticulata".
I never heard of the fruit before or seen it for that matter. But it looked so pretty that I took a picture of it. It makes me wonder how it tastes though. The name sure sounds delicious, Custard apple, mmmmm ;-) Next time I do have to give this fruit a try.
But besides the cows, the chickens and all the strange types of fruits, this is what the village is really about: fishing! And there are all kinds of signs around to remember you of that fact, like these fishing nets hanging over a washing line in the middle of the village.
I like to watch the local people and their way of living. Life here on Libaran Island is so different than the one I am used to in Sweden. Here on Libaran life evolves around fishing. Not only the men, but also the women participate in the daily fishing activities; like this woman working on some fishing nets.
I find it fascinating to watch and learn about different people, their cultures and way of living. I am still a bit shy though with my camera trying to capture these differences.
Not all fishing nets seemed to be cared for just as much. I saw this bundle of nets hanging over and wrapped around this fence. I have to admit I don't know that much about fishing, but it looked like a bit of a mess. Hahaha, a picturesque mess though :-)
In the same garden I saw these fishing nets, or should I call them doggie nets, LOL :-) They seemed totally unsuitable for fishing, but the dog seemed very happy with them. Libaran is a lazy place and these dogs knew just how to be that in the best possible way :-) Sorry I disturbed guys.... I'll walk on again ;-)
This lazy thingy seems to be spread around quickly! You would think that the cats would be on alert until the fish arrives. But instead these cats preferred to be lazy and sleepy. They were close to the sea though at the spot where the fishing boats arrive, so maybe they weren't so dumb after all. The perfect way to be lazy and on the lookout at the same time :-)
Just before going out on our trip to the Mangrove Forest, these fishermen came home with their catch. It was interesting to watch what kind of fish they caught and see them clean the fish right on the spot. I wonder if I would eat any of these fish tonight :-))
Young or old, it doesn't matter. They all seem to be fishing, all on their own way. These two boys were so busy with their fishing activities that they didn't even notice us.
While waiting for the boat at the end of the jetty, I watched these boys fishing. They seemed to have a lot of fun doing so. Happy faces when they caught a fish :-)
The boat brings us back to the mainland to visit a Mangrove Forest. Here we tour around in some of the canals to this special type of forest, which is fascinating to see.
The trees that grow here are mangrove trees. There are about 34 different species of trees that are together called mangroves. They share their name because of their same ability to withstand the tough conditions in these shore areas. They can grow in salt water and root in these muddy surfaces. It is not easy for a tree to stay up straight in such a muddy soil, often covered in a thin layer of water (as in the picture). To be able to do that, they have a complicated root system, so typical for a mangrove forest.
In the picture you can see what our guide called the 'Monkey Spear'. Hahaha, just love that name as I can just imagine monkeys throwing these around like spears, LOL :-)
This 'Monkey Spear' is a way that the Mangrove tree is nothing less than a seed, and a way to survive for the mangrove tree. The seed grows on the parent tree for about 1 or 2 years, until they are about 1/2 metre long. After that the seed will drop off, and when lucky it does so while it is low tide. If so, the seed (Monkey Spear) will stab directly into the muddy soil and will grow into a new tree, next to its parent tree. If it is high tide, the seed is not so lucky. But it still has chances to survive and root up on another place.
Mudskippers are so fun! You can see these fighting fish in this mangrove landscape. Amazingly enough, these 'fish' spend most of their time out of the water. And they can move faster on land than in the water! These fish are not that big, they get about 15-30cm long.
These two fish were fighting with each other. They seem to try and make themselves bigger to impress the opponent. All in all a fun thing to watch as it wasn't only these two I saw, but quite a large group of them. So keep a look out for these Mudskippers when you visit the mangrove!
I saw a few of these Monitor Lizards already during this Asia trip, but they keep surprising me, hahaha, and as you can see take pictures of. My first ever Monitor Lizard was in the klongs in Bangkok. After that I saw quite a few while staying at Sukau, here on Borneo. Hahaha, I even had one sneaking around my lodge, but racing off as soon as it spotted me.
This one was very close to a village, next to a couple of fishing boats.
These fishermen were waiting to go on the Sulu Sea to go fishing. I loved their colourful boats and flags, their smiles, hahaha, and the enthusiasm with which they greeted us.Hahaha, although their enthusiasm started just after this picture was taken, LOL
One of the fishermen at work, untangling his fishing nets, hahaha or at least that is what it looks like. It is so wonderful to get a glimpse of the local life of people during this boat trip. Our boat continues slowly through the winding canal, passing a little village with houses on both sides of the canal.
A little further along in the village I saw this fisherman standing on the jetty, working again... as everyone seems to do here..... on his fishing nets. The village I am at is called Lalasun Village. A name you might as well forget right away as it is so small; you probably would have a hard time finding it on any map ;-)
It is time to turn around our boat and head back to Libaran Island. But we don't leave without a proper goodbye from the fishermen. This is one of the fishermen we saw earlier this afternoon. They are now out a little bit further in the bay, waiting to go out to sea. They send us on our way with a greeting smile and wave goodbye!
The bay is amazingly calm. The water is so quiet you can see the reflections of the boat in it. The only little sign of waves is further on in open sea. The light is weird, but amazing at the same time. A spooky effect, but so beautiful. Is this the so called 'silence before the storm'?
The boatman races the boat over the sea, crossing towards Libaran Island. He seems to be in an awful hurry, we are almost flying over the water. Does he know something I don't know? It pops into my mind that we left the mangrove forest very suddenly as well. I get the slight feeling something is wrong. But we got back to Libaran Island without problems, so my mind was at ease again.
The strange light is still there and has even intensified. The calm sea, the light, they all make perfect conditions for these type of reflections. It is almost unreal, but beautiful in my eyes.
The sky darkens, the light intensifies and the play of the shadows begins. We arrived at Libaran and it is a long walk over the jetty. Åke and I both click our cameras ongoing. The light is fascinating; the backlight creates an amazing play of light and dark. This photo, taken by Åke, captures the mood of the moment so well. It is one of my absolute favourites of our trip to Borneo.
I concentrated my camera on a fisherman that was slowly heading towards the shore. In his hands the catch of the day. Seeing these photos makes me think back to this moment and I imagine myself standing on that jetty again, enjoying so much this special little moment in my life.
The light changed with every second that past by. An absolute weird experience. Within minutes, and probably quicker, the 'light' was gone. The landscape returned into a normal landscape again.
Finally the sky revealed the true cause of this weird light. Dark blue clouds covered the sky in an amazing speed. The clouds were mean looking; warning for what was to come. Only minutes had past by and the sky opened up, flooding rain down in an amazing amount. We got back to our lodge just in time. In an opened door we looked at these forces of nature. We were happy that the boatman had been in such a hurry and brought us home safely and on time :-)
The original plans for the evening was a barbeque night, but as you can imagine with all that rain we just had, those plans were quickly changed. Instead the cook changed the menu and served some great dishes with meat, fish, rice, vegetables and all you can think of. It was a feast meal for the four of us, as we were the only guests on the island. The dinner started of with a nice cocktail of the house. And we opened up a bottle of wonderful white wine to accompany our dinner. A perfect end to a wonderful day.
All that is left to do on this page is to say goodnight! :-)) It is time to turn off the light and get some sleep, because tomorrow we will have another long but beautiful day ahead of us.
Here is a look into our little cottage. The cottage is basic, but all you need is there. There is an air-condition, although very noisy, it works well. (Luckily we didn't really this night as it wasn't so warm). The bathroom is huge, hahaha, but I have no clue why, because it was just empty space. It certainly wasn't anything fancy. But like I said, all is there what you need! A toilet and a shower, even with warm water :-)) what more can you wish for :-)))
So off we are to our next destination.... The trip continues.....
The previous leg of my journey was a visit to Sukau, probably my favourite part of the journey. I had two fantastic days on the river and I wouldn't have minded staying here longer. I hiked, did tours on the river, saw lots of birds and had an amazing encounter with a nose-monkey.
Today's trip has come to an end. After this wonderful visit to Libaran Island we are off to our next destination: Selingan Island. Selingan is part of the Turtle Islands park, and as the name already says it: famous for its turtles.
I hope you will join me on this virtual trip and enjoy reading my travel stories and see the pictures. For me it has been fantastic to write about my journey because it has made me relive the trip once again :-)