A close encounter with a wild crocodile

We didn’t set out to see crocodiles, really. We only wanted to cross a lake.

Q: Why did the people cross the lake?

A: To get to the other side (preferably without an incident of crocodile molestation).

Certainly, crocodiles posed a threat to our safety, as advertised by a prominent sign at the jetty.

Crocodile warning sign

That warning is enthusiastically supported by another sign, at the docking station, reminding us to not feed the crocodiles our hands.

Safety sign

We were at Bako Village in Kuching, waiting to be taken by boat to Bako National Park, Sarawak’s oldest national park.

Bako Village boat terminal

The village is basically a ferry terminal on one side and village residence on the other side. Crocodiles in between.

The villagers themselves operate the terminal and the boats.

A boat cometh

After our tour guide finished with the paperwork, we got into our lifejackets and onto a boat.

Lili and Sheylara

Poor Lili (left) had an accident on our return trip but that’s another story.

Here’s Javad not heeding the safety sign:

Half of Javad's back

Nicholas and Javad had front-row seats. Awesome. All the better to serve as meat shields for us ladies. (From the spray of sea water as the boat speeds along, that is.)

Nicholas and Javad

The other half of our party on another boat:

A boat in the distance

The boat ride was really fun. I used to be terrified of being in small vessels because they bob about crazily. I had gotten into a bumboat once and the rocking motion just about killed me.

I must have outgrown that. I totally loved this ride, especially feeling the wind on my face, sweeping my hair back, and a bit of sea spray giving me a free mineral facial.

The view from a boat

And the clouds being some kind of wonderful.


And then things got a little exciting.

Our tour guide, Anastasia, suddenly hushed everyone and got the boatman to stop the engine.

Our boat drifted towards a big rubber tube thing floating on the water.

Rubber tube

“Shh!” whispered Anastasia, “A crocodile!”

We couldn’t see it at first because it was lying still and flat on the rubber tube. But when we saw it, the cameras all came out.


It was frightening and fascinating at the same time. I’ve never been so near a wild crocodile. Would it lunge off the rubber tube and pounce at us?

Wait. Can crocodiles pounce?


It hardly moved the whole time it was sitting there, sunbathing on the rubber tube.

Wait, wait. Is it “sit” or “lie”? Poor crocodiles can only be in one position their whole lives. Their sit = stand = lie. Haha.


Its eyes are marble white!


And its tail is kinda cool with that serrated edge.


No one talked. We didn’t want to alert the crocodile to our presence. We just clicked our cameras nonstop.

It knew, anyway. After a minute or two, apparently sensing a change in its idyllic scenary, the crocodile suddenly slipped off the rubber tube and cut into the water, swift and silent.

“You’re all very lucky,” said Anastasia. “It’s not often that tourists get to see a crocodile out in the open.”

We were more than lucky, in fact.

On our way back, we came across a school of dolphins but they were too quick for us to catch with our cameras.

“You are so lucky!” Anastasia couldn’t stop beaming.


The boat ride to Bako National Park took somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes, during which time Anastasia pointed out various interesting sights, such as the numerous seastacks on the coastline, featuring interesting patterns created by wave erosion and iron deposits.


It was an awesome experience, watching and learning.

And this was only the beginning.

To be continued…