The other day when we were posing in front of one of the Muslim Temples out here, a giant tour bus pulled up and out trotted about 40 Chinese tourists. They took some snaps, then all filed back in and drove away. We had just spent an hour on a dirty city bus and walked 30 minutes to save 10$ on a taxi for the same photos… yet for some reason when I saw that tour bus pull up I found myself pitying “THOSE kind of travelers.”
Ironically, a couple of days later I boarded a bus for a Weston Wetland tour outside of Kota Kinabalu. I was expecting to be on some clunky minivan, but was surprised to find a full-sized tour bus with nice comfortable reclining seats and air conditioning. I immediately reclined my seat and settled in for a short snooze.
I was awoken by the tour guide speaking over the loud PA system. He was speaking in Chinese, and as I looked around I noticed I was the only Western guy on the bus. In fact, I was the only non-Chinese person on the bus (unless you count Rae). Yes, I was actually inside the belly of Chinese tour bus. Not only that, but I quickly became aware that my fashion sense (or lack thereof) probably made me the most awkward old pot-bellied tourist on the bus 🙂
Not a word of English was spoken the entire trip (except between my family), but they seemed to be having a pretty good time. The guide talked over the PA system most of the time, and every few minutes the bus would erupt in laughter, so I am assuming he was a bit of a funny guy.
The Weston Wetland Tour Itself
The tour itself was ok. There was another type of monkey though that we got a good look at.
We had two meals, which were both very mediocre, and on the way home we got to stop at a “chocolate factory” (in other words, a chocolate store where people could get rid of any extra cash they had in their wallets).
Fireflies: The Redeeming Feature of This Tour
The one thing though that made the Weston Westland tour worthwhile was the fireflies. After dinner, we all got back in the boat and sail off into the darkness for what I assumed was going to be a cold, mosquito filled jount out to a bush where we might see a few bugs that faintly glowed if you squinted just right.
After a few minutes, you can start to make out a dim glow around the outline of the river bank ahead. Then as you get close, the glow quickly turns into flickering dots. As you get closer you see the trees are all sparkling with thousands of little pale blue lights. It was NOT as I imagined at all, these were bright and lit up the trees like Christmas lights!
They were all flickering at random, but at the same time they seem to be flicking together, like they were all just a part of one giant creature laying out across the forest. As we got closer the creature seemed to “notice” us and formed what seemed like a long sparkling neck that gently reached out toward the boat. Then they were suddenly all around us! Everyone was reaching out to try to cup them in their hands. Rae actually caught one and I saw how it lit up her hands and face. I noticed later that the guide had a little green light that he was flashing at the front of the boat, which must be what he was using to attract them.
Because of the darkness it was impossible to capture this experience in photos or video. It’s really something that needs to be experienced to know understand. For that reason, although the rest of the tour may have been a bit of a miss for me, the recommend doing this tour for the fireflies. Afterall, you only take away maybe one memory from any trip no matter how action packed it is, and for me this firefly experience is one that will stick with me forever.