Tired from a modest 21 hour flight time leapfrogging from New York, USA to Doha, Qatar to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I was finally arriving in Kota Kinabalu on the island of Borneo. I was first greeted by the sweltering heat after leaving the crowded airport terminal – a poignant reminder that I am no longer in wintery Ithaca. A quick jaunt in a 30 minute taxi ride that cost us a modest 20 ringgit (~ 7 USD) brought the four of us to our hotel in the downtown district.
It was already mid-afternoon, Emma and I chose to explore the local area in search of a bookstore. Our endeavors were rewarded tenfold as we discovered “Borneo Books” – a store dedicated to the natural history publications of the region. Within its walls awaited me writings on Bornean Orchids, Pitcher Plants, Birds, Mammals, and even local medicinal plants. Not even 3 hours had passed since arriving in Sabah and I had already spent a fair amount of money on literature that I now have to tote for the next 3 months. Such is the life.
After the self induced fleecing of my coffers at the bookstore, Emma and I chose to walk to the local “fish” market along the coast we heard rumor of. Within its domain lie the daily catch from the local fisherman – a sad reminder of an unsustainable industry. A diverse array of species were found, what was most alarming were the number of reef fish that were likely incidental bycatch such as Parrotfish, Angelfish, and even a single Batfish. None of these are common table items, but were found here frosted eyed in the sun awaiting their fate.