A private deserted beach all to yourself is what travel dreams are made of. Add to that a hammock, a beach shack, perfect temperature water, sunshine and campfire and you have nirvana.
This is what Kudat offered, specifically the Gereja PCS Bavang Jamal village near the northern tip of Borneo. Erin and I met Roland, the village entrepreneur, at the local store about 5km from the village. A few dirt tracks later we pulled into a small collection of wooden huts pulling up at the custom-built longhouse which is known as the Lupa Masa Homestay which accommodates most travellers.
However, at the request of camping opportunities, we were led down to the beach from the village. On the route down to the beach, we followed the river bank for a while until it joined the ocean. During the brief 5-minute walk, we covered off the main questions. Are their crocs? No. Are their mosquitos? Not many. Can you swim in the water? Yes. Can you light a fire? Sure. Can you hang a hammock? Of course! All looking positive.
Despite there being the off chance of bumping into a jellyfish (one harmless, one less harmless) and the odd sandfly it seemed all was good with the location and freedom to pretty much call the beach our own. First things first, to string up the hammock.
Conveniently, there was a small beach shack used to house conservationists who stop by from time to time. This provided a perfect spot to store bags and some gear out of the weather. Whereas the hammock was to be strung up immediately outside. With ocean views and the cool breeze off the water it was not long before we were merrily ‘hanging out’ swinging to sleep with the gentle crashing of the shore break the only noise to be heard.
The hammock came with a built-in mosquito net and separate fly sheet to protect us from bugs and the elements. However, during the day just the light parachute material of the hammock was all that was required. The bugs kept away by the light covering of DEET spray.
Coming into the night a few logs were gathered together off the beach and a few pine needles used to as kindling and the fire kicked off trouble-free. There is nothing better than a campfire on the beach. The heat and smoke from the fire acting as a natural bug repellant. While the ambient temperature meant that warmth of the fie was not required, the comfort and focus of having a fire while camping was awesome.
Slowly but surely the fire dies to a low bed of glowing embers and time to snuggle into an awaiting hammock. Underneath a billion stars the mosquito net zipped up it was time for bed. With a fleece as a pillow, I rocked to sleep for the second time that day with only half an eye open hoping Roland’s understanding about crocs in the area was accurate as I lay like a human burrito should a wandering prehistoric reptile stumble into my presence needing to be fed.