Sunday, October 25, 2009

Passport to Sandakan

Once dubbed “Little Hong Kong”, this city of nature is a fusion of new and old. With its booming commerce, historical charm, exotic wildlife and sun-soaked coasts, the Sabah paradise is a playground for die-hard naturalists, beach-bunnies and culture vultures alike.

Journey to the Past

Unravel fascinating stories of interesting people and events through the various historical landmarks found around the city. Begin exploring the Heritage Trail at Masjid Jamek, a mosque which served as a refuge for Muslims and European officials during World War II. Walk to the William Pryer Monument and climb the Stairs with a Hundred Steps before embarking on a spiritual path. Discover the Gothic-inspired St Michael’s and All Angels Church that took 13 years to complete; and ask for protection, good health and educational success at the Sam Sing Kung Chinese Temple and Goddess of Mercy Temple. Tour the Agnes Keith House, the former residence of the Land Below the Wind and Three Came Home author, then head over to the English Tea House & Restaurant for a cup of steaming hot tea, scones served with jam and cream, and a traditional game of croquet.

Honour Fallen Heroes

Commemorate the tragedy of 1945, which robbed the lives of approximately 2,400 Australian and British prisoners of war. Visit the Sandakan Memorial Park, the POW camp where Allied servicemen were held by Japanese soldiers. The remains of an excavator, generator and boiler are sad reminders of the bitter past. Step into the shoes of the captives and traverse the trail of the notorious Sandakan-Ranau Death Marches. Be warned: even the fit and strapping have found it overwhelming to trek across this route that witnessed the demise of more than 1,400 soldiers. Most of them died of exhaustion, hunger and deadly diseases such as tropical ulcers and beriberi.

For more info:

* Sandakan Memorial Park, Sandakan Municipal Council, Tel: 089-275400 / 217343, Fax: 089-272112

Go Ape!

Swing by the largest Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sepilok to witness the cheeky animals go about their daily business. Catch a glimpse of this protected species as they dangle from trees and dance along platforms during feeding time at 10 am and 3 pm. Established in 1964, the Centre aims to rehabilitate orphaned babies from logging sites, plantations and illegal hunting. Once equipped with the necessary survival skills, these hairy creatures will be released back into the wild. Get up close and personal with the peculiar bulbous-nosed and pot-bellied Proboscis Monkeys at the Labuk Bay Sanctuary. Although these primates search for food in their jungle habitat, they are also treated with snacks such as peeled cucumbers, long beans, and sometimes even pancakes. Originally intended as an oil palm plantation, the 190-hectare area is also home to the mischievous Silver Langgur and Oriental Pied Hornbill.

For more info:

* Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, Sandakan Wildlife Department, Tel: 089-531180, Fax: 089-531189

* Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, Tel: 089-672133 / 672177, Fax: 089-672136, Email:

Hit the Trails

The Rainforest Discovery Centre, one of the most accessible rainforests in Sabah, sits by a lake at the edge of the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve. Walk along the 800-m Rainforest Discovery Trail and become acquainted with green giants such as the menggaris tree. Be sure to also keep an eye out for darting civets and flying squirrels. Climb to the top of the observation towers and take in the breathtaking view from the 150-m long and 28-m high steel canopy walkway. 250 species of birds reside within the Centre including the Banded and Rufous-collared Kingfisher; Hooded and Black-and-Crimson Pitta; Scarlet Minivet; Red-bearded Bee-Eater; Banded Broadbill and Diard's Trogon. Patience is a virtue, especially when trying to spot the trophy Bornean Bristlehead!

For more info:

* Rainforest Discovery Centre, Tel: 089-533780 / 533781, Fax: 089-535201, Email:

Hit the Beach

Attempt to find Nemo and other underwater creatures such as the yellow-tail barracuda, humphead parrotfish and guitarfish in the blue-green waters surrounding Lankayan Island. Non-divers can snorkel along the reef, kayak or just lie back on a hammock and enjoy the beautiful sunset and ocean breeze. Witness Green and Hawksbill turtles landing to lay eggs at the Turtle Islands Park, which is dedicated to the protection of this endangered species. Gazetted in 1977, the Marine Park consists of three islands, Pulau Bakungan Kecil, Pulau Selingan and Pulau Gelisan. A friendly tip: Go during the months of March–September to avoid the north-eastern monsoon windstorms.

Ride the River

Travel by open boat along the Kinabatangan, the longest river in Sabah which flows 560 km from the Crocker Range in the southwest down to the Sulu Sea in the east. With its tributaries and oxbow lakes, the Lower Kinabatangan is the largest floodplain in Malaysia and one of only two known places on earth where 10 primate species including the orang utan, proboscis monkey, maroon langgur and macaques can be found. Keep an eye out for other spectacular wildlife along the riverbanks such as the Borneo pygmy elephants, bearded pigs, wild cats, sun bears and crocodiles, just to name a few. The endemic Bornean Bristlehead, rare Storm's Stork and endangered Oriental Darter have also been spotted in the area.

Source: Sabah Tourism Newsletter

NOTE: All Photos Copyright to Sabah Tourism

No comments: