Sunday, May 22, 2016

Born to Travel: Turtle Time on Sabah’s Selingaan Island

We awoke to a similarly excellent birds eye views of Sandakan from our hotel room window. After breakfast we checked out and met our new guide, Joan in the hotel foyer. From there we were driven to the wharf.

After about half an hour waiting all the travellers going to Selingaan (Turtle) Island were allocated to one of three boats and we were instructed to put on our buoyancy vests then off we went for a bumpy boat trip to Selingaan Island.

Well, initially it was quite calm as we passed the moored fishing boats and the stilted houses along the shoreline.

However after about twenty minutes the boat started to bounce from the crest of one wave to the next. It really shook us up.

I was really glad to have taken a ginger tablet after breakfast to help with motion sickness.

After an hour we came into sight of our destination, Selingaan Island. The boat drove right up to the sand and then we disembarked, dragging and lifting our cases with us.

One of the staff met us with a drink and we were briefed on the program for the day, which would be mostly resting, swimming, snorkelling, eating, drinking and waiting for night to bring us ‘turtle time’.

Next we were shown to our room, a few hundred metres from the main building.

From the outside the chalet looked fine but our room was extremely basic – twin beds, an air conditioner and a small bathroom with a toilet, basin and a shower with a sign saying ‘showers available when we have rain’ which was ominous as we had been told there hadn’t been rain for a while.

We decided to take a swim to cool down. The water was quite warm. It was a very hot day in the mid 30s and quite humid. The beach even had its own lifeguard.

After a while it was time for lunch which was just as well as we could sense that sunburn was a real likelihood if we stayed at the beach much longer. We changed and joined the others, about 20 in all for a delicious buffet lunch.

We had a bit of a walk around after that before going back to our air conditioned room for an afternoon nap. ‘Turtle time’ could be just after sunset or any time up to dawn the next day! Lately it had been around 20:30 so we hoped for similar tonight but just in case it was good to be up for whatever time.

We came back to the main building for sunset drink time and a chat with some of the others. Our guide Joan gave us an extensive briefing on what to expect. She was really passionate about the island’s conservation program.