On day three we head out to the Turtle Islands, where incredibly, on average 30 green turtles and hawksbill turtles visit each night to, between them, lay several thousand eggs. The turtle action starts after dinner as rangers allow us to watch the amazing sight of one of these massive beasts laying her eggs. On this occasion she manages 45 eggs before settling down for a well earned rest.
The evening finishes with something extra special – perhaps the highlight of our whole trip – as we get to sett he evening’s little hatchings free. They are gorgeous. About 60 little turtle hatchlings, each less than 7cm long, frantically scrabble for the water as we wave them bon voyage.
Monkey adventures and the temple of doom
After a windswept trip back to the mainland the following morning we hop on another boat to head up river in search of more wildlife. After a high tea at Proboscis Lodge we head for a more intimate cruise along one of the river’s tributaries in search of our lodge’s namesake. Luckily we don’t have to wait long to spot one of these funny looking fellows with their protruding noses.
The following day our first stop is the Temple of Doom. Seriously. Nearby Gomantong Caves, while spectacular in size and formation, are alive with creepy crawlies. In the centre of the cave is a huge mound of bat and bird droppings and as we look a little closer we realise its moving. It’s then I realise the boardwalk beneath us is also moving. Cockroaches and centipedes scuttle about underfoot, on the handrails and the walls of the cave next to us. Fascinating as it is, this one is probably better for older kids.
From the ridiculous to the sublime, our last lunch in Sandakan is at the English Teahouse and Restaurant and it’s a blast from the British colonial past. A traditional bungalow replete with parquet flooring, elegant rattan chairs and wooden ceiling fans on a wide veranda. There’s even a game of croquet set up on the manicured lawn. It’s a peaceful little oasis looking out over the city and a great place to sit and reflect on the past week’s adventures.
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