Kate on Location (Day 1)

KATE NOKWE brings you the latest from the SA Swimwear shoot in Borneo.

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.

This is day one on location for SA Swimsuit, in Borneo. With one of the oldest rainforests in the world, the location is almost complete. I say 'almost complete' as Rosette Mogomotsi enters the picture, bringing the final touch, dressed in nothing but her high heels and bikini at this early hour. Rosette has appeared in various magazines, including True Love, Elle, Babe – a pretty big deal in the modelling world. She has just become an even bigger one in mine, taking centre stage in my next interview.

After touring Rosette’s behind-the-scenes world, another beauty joins us: Cape Town model Careen Truter, winner of the inaugural SA Swimsuit Model Search 2013. Among all these long-legged, gorgeous girls, I guess I could be forgiven for feeling a bit less goddess-like at this moment. The morning continues with more behind-the-scenes insights into these models' worlds, hosted by Mainstay, the alcohol sponsor for the Borneo shoot.

The morning's efforts are rewarded by a delicious lunch, followed by a boat ride to Tavajun, a private beach. The white sand and sky-blue waters take my breath away.

I turn my attention to our tour guide, who tells me about the resort’s CSI (corporate social investment) project at the beach, a rescue centre involving what looks like a 200-year-old turtle. I definitely see Nemo and Dory in one of those marine tanks. While I look around the marine centre, Candice Boucher is being photographed, posing next to a tree. 

During the shoot, I join the rest of the crew in the warm sea water, just before we have to take shelter from the rain. Fortunately it is not a long wait. The boat arrives and we head back to the hotel, where Careen and I take time out to go to a meditation class. It is an inspiring experience, complementing the awe-inspiring vista around us. I am again uplifted, perhaps not quite to goddess status, but I definitely have an insight into a higher state of being.

Dinner is a gastronomic tour de force with the director of PR for the hotel group and the general manager. The atmosphere is sublime and I enjoy every moment. Everyone one at the table seems well travelled, with the exception of myself. However, I have plans to change this, and Borneo makes a magical starting point.

It is now 00:35 here and I’m sending this through. There's a smile on my lips as I click ‘send’:  I close my eyes in wonder: yes, this was definitely not my usual day.

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