Sunday, November 26, 2006

Road trip (from Brunei) to Sandakan

Getting passports stamped at Lawas Immigration
Stopping at Ranau town
Smooth road towards Sandakan
Driving along the mountain road
Riding along Kota Kinabalu road

Photos Copyright © 2006 Brunei Press Sdn Bhd. All right reserved.

By Mohammad Abdullah

The journey to Sandakan, the second largest city in Sabah, was more pleasant than expected.

Altogether the total distance of travel was approximately 2,000 kilometres and a total of 24 hours driving time. It took six hours from Kota Kinabalu to Kula Lurah and another six hours to reach Sandakan and back again.

To save fuel costs during the journey, we used diesel engine vehicles. From Brunei to Sandakan and back, we only had to fill the fuel tanks three times.

The cost of diesel in Sabah is relatively higher than in Brunei. It costs RM1.58 per litre, where as in the Sultanate it costs approximately B$0.70, which is more than double. Throughout the whole journey we spent RM150 just for petrol alone.

During our journey, we had to negotiate through the narrow road of Mount Kinabalu to reach our destination. The steep and winding mountain road was probably the toughest part of the trip. Eyes had to be constantly on the road and there little chance to soak in the beauty of the mountain view, which covered almost half of our journey.

Yet, along the way, we were able to stop and smell the roses. To the left and right of us were covered with thousands of acres of oil palm plantations.

A tip for those who are about to travel long distance for the first time, always check your oil pressure as well as car temperature. The radiator water will go down at an alarming rate, especially when the engine is forced to work hard when travelling up and down the mountain road. Water refills for the engine is also very important.

Another tip for travellers who are heading towards Sandakan or Mount Kinabalu is to never travel at night. It is very dangerous. There are no lights along the road and the blind corners are very treacherous. The lights from cars can sometimes be blinding and the road can disappear amidst a flash of lights.

There are several towns along the way to Sandakan where visitors can stop. One of which is the small town of Ranau, just past the Kinabalu resorts. The town is located in one of the many valleys of Mount Kinabalu.

A lot of travellers would rest in this small town for a few minutes to let their engines cool down before continuing their trek through the mountain road.

There are times when the mountain view along the road is so breathtaking that it takes a moment to compose yourself and concentrate on the road ahead.

There are other small towns along the road to Sandakan, much of these towns sprang up due to the surrounding oil plantations.

The Sandakan and Tawau junctions are heavily guarded with armed police personnel. Here the police use machine guns and live ammunitions, a precaution to deter smugglers and illegal immigrants from entering Sabah. The junction links to the only road leading towards Kota Kinabalu.

In the past, a lot of smuggling activities have taken place including illegal immigrants passing through this area. Since then the Sabah government had taken steps to ensure that illegal activities are stopped by utilising a police checkpoint at the junction.

Courtesy of: Borneo Bulletin Sunday

Visit for more Sandakan & Ranau tours

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