Honeymoon Day 4 – Gomantong & Sandakan

We left Borneo Nature Lodge at 9am this morning with a boat trip down to where we’d left the minibus the previous day. Some parts of the riverbank looked as though they’d been trampled on overnight which meant that the elephants had been around.

First stop of the day was to be Gomantong Caves but on the way there we spotted our first wild orang utan. We ended up watching her for about 25 minutes as she stripped the tree she was on of its bark, gnawing a few pieces and then dropping it to the floor. This particular orang utan was pregnant as well so there was a good sign!

We continued our drive to the caves and then trekked our way through the jungle to actually get to them. These caves are home to thousands of bats and cockroaches. The smell inside the cave is something to behold as there is a tonne of guano piling up in the centre of the cave floor. Everywhere you looked around on the floor and walls there were cockroaches and other insects just crawling around. Some of the roaches were about 6 inches long!

There was a pathway around the cave which was incredibly slippery but you couldn’t use the handrail as it was covered in more insects and guano. You had to be really careful as you walked around, because if you fell over you were going to end up covered in shit!

The caves are also home to lots of swiftlets. These birds make their nests on teh cave walls but they are harvested every 3-4 months as the nests are used to make the delicacy that is birds nest soup. Don’t think I’d ever want to eat it myself as the nests are made from the bird’s spit!

Harvesting the nests is a dangerous job, done by skilled climbers who use only bamboo to climb around the cave. A few years ago one climber fell from the roof down into the pile of guano where he drowned!. His body was never recovered and has probably now been devoured by the cockroaches!

We left the caves (but not until we’d cleaned our shoes!) and drove back to Sandakan, through all the palm oil plantations again, where we got to look around one of the water villages that surround the town and also a buddhist temple high up in the hills. That was to be the last stop on our tour and so we headed to the airport to catch our flight back to Kota Kinabalu.

We were picked up at KK airport and taken to the Rasa Ria hotel, the next stop on our honeymoon.