breaking up with borneo

The minute the Mainstay team and I arrived on Gaya Island, off the mainland of Borneo, we knew that tearing ourselves away from this special place would be one of the hardest things to do.

Steeped in a splendour which combines the beauty of lush forests, scenic trails, intricate cave systems and meandering rivers with clear, enticing waters, this island is a utopia of tranquillity.



Words could never do justice to its majestic beauty; no amount of film could ever capture this tropical paradise, where the visitor cannot help but succumb to the grandeur of a place in which nature reigns supreme.
Granted, this was my first trip overseas (go big or go home, they say) but Borneo and the Island Resort certainly fulfilled its promise as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

One of the main questions that I’ve asked the models on this trip is, ‘What tops this experience?’ No one has been able to think of another place. This is my frame of mind as I start off my last day on the island, day four of the SA Swimsuit Borneo photo shoot.

As Candice, Rosette, and Careen bid us farewell, it dawned upon my travel companions that this infatuation with this island would soon be entertained only as a memory.

Only an activity that would out-do the other days here would be a fitting end to this experience. The solution, it turned out, was fairly simple: a two-hour spa treatment.

While the photographers and models battled it out in the hot jungle, my masseuse was performing magic, relaxing my nerve ends, confronting my sleep-depriving demon, insomnia.

The lady with bewitching hands let the effect of sleep-deficiency run its course on the massage table and I finally managed to get some real rest, which energised me for the day.

Kate Nicole

By lunch-time I was doing hand-stands on the beach, not to mention an impromptu ‘how to work your abs’ session with a true beauty, Nicole Meyer.

I invited Nicole to a continue reading

reality shows with models

Being an insomniac has its moments. I survived four years of university exams solely by using this sleep-denial demon to my advantage. Being ‘normal’ wouldn’t cut it, so my method was simple: sleep in the afternoon, pull an all-nighter, then zombie-walk to my exam room and write down the answers which my sleep-deprived state convinced me were right. Head home. Sleep. Repeat.

It may sound a little extreme, but it worked and, happily, I have a qualification, thank you very much.

But there is a different side to this coin: the times when insomnia decides to bite. And when it does, it doesn’t just scratch the surface; it cuts deep and reminds you who is boss.

Needless to say, on this side of the coin I come off second-best. And day three in Borneo for SA Swimsuit is more than an unpleasant reminder of exactly who is in charge. Oh yes, insomnia reigns supreme and I find myself its unwilling servant.

hiking with Candice

hiking with Candice

The day started off with Candice Boucher, Jason (TV crew) and me being invited to join Gaya Island’s resident naturalist for a nature ‘walk’. Most people would call it hiking. Uphill hiking at that!
Not that this deterred me.

I have always been at my happiest outdoors. So this walk, on any other day, would have been a breeze. But not today, because at 02:45, I was catching up with mates in South Africa, fully aware that I had a date with the mountains. But closing my eyes at that hour was not an option. As I mentioned, sleep and I parted ways many years ago.

Now, despite being surrounded by the magnificence of the outdoor life of Borneo, by the 20th minute of this 80-minute hike (I’m choosing to call it as it is), I was playing the ‘are we there yet’ game, questioning my thoughts of entering Survivor South Africa, which I have been entertaining for the past week.

cooking with Rosette

cooking with Rosette

Somehow I put one tired continue reading

saved by public pool.. day 2 in borneo

I’ve always known that growing up around public pools would serve me well one day. Actually, it has come to my aid a number of times. And whenever the ‘can this black person swim’ stare comes my way, I look up and send a little thank-you prayer that swimming is a ‘can-do’ on my list.

Look, I will not be winning any medals of any kind, ever. Put me in deep oceans and I’ll probably be saying a different prayer. But on any given day, I’ll survive water activities without any glitches.

A good thing too, as day two of the SA Swimsuit shoot on the Borneo island of Gaya demands my public-pool education.

today's office

today’s office

‘Kate, you are going snorkeling,’ announces Greg, the Netsport director. ‘You are going to have so much fun’. Then something must have squeezed his brain, because he asks, “You have been snorkeling, before, haven’t you?” I nod, while simultaneously whispering my silent ‘thank you’.

Only twice before have I seen the beauty that is under the sea. It captured my heart like no other experience; and today is no different. It is difficult at first but the deeper we go, the easier and more captivating it becomes… until my foot touches a sea urchin. I bite my lip to try to counter the sharp, stabbing sensation which is like nothing else I’ve encountered; an agony that is only exacerbated by the concerned faces of my hosts. But I managed to walk it off, and I am now about to sleep off the remaining pain.

It would take much more than poisonous black dots under my foot to keep me away from the wonders of this Borneo island. It is that breathtaking and the models on duty today echo this sentiment.
Of course, when one’s office for the day is a yacht on a perfect aquamarine ocean, straight out of the Into the Blue movie, one really doesn’t need too much convincing to get quickly back on track.

Great view

Great view

This involves again being invited into the world of continue reading

borneo island for sa swim suit

SA Rugby Magazine has sent me to Borneo Island, in Malaysia, for their SA Swimsuit Magazine. On my days here I’ll be covering the behind the scenes activities with seven models.

They include Candice Boucher, Nicole Meyer, Rosette Mogomotsi, Derryn Lester, Jayden Ashley Robison, Xenia Deli and Careen Truter, who was declared the winner of the 2013 SA Swimsuit Model Search competition.

Gaya Island Resort

Gaya Island Resort

This is Day One report:

On any given day, a 7am wake-up call, even on a Saturday, would not be a demanding or unusual event. But this is no ordinary Saturday. It takes me a couple of seconds to realise that my surroundings have changed dramatically in the past 24 hours or so: my bed is deliciously comfortable, there’s aircon bringing a soothing coolness to the room; there’s also a lot of white – white walls, white duvet, even the towels and bathtub are white, creating a serene atmosphere, making me want to curl up a little longer. Wooden floors make a delightful contrast, adding a touch of warmth to the room, together with the wooden blinds which kept me cocooned in darkness until my wake-up call. A different room, in a different country … yes, this day will definitely be different.

This early call is at Gaya Island Resort, off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, where the only form of traffic is a host of smiling staff members, all of whom seem to be competing in a ‘who-can-make-you-happier’ game. The service is here is heavenly, which I suppose makes me a goddess of sorts …

The level of service is one of the first things I notice; an amazing hospitality and true sense of giving rather than serving. It is something unexpected; a factor so rare that I am taken aback, questioning its sincerity. I guess I’ve been in my ‘world’ for far too long; this world offers a unique friendliness, making me feel that no request would be too big – but then, I’ve already mentioned that this is going to be a different day.

Mainstay Moments

Mainstay Moments

This is day one on location for SA Swimsuit, in continue reading