Stuif's Adventures

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Sabah November 2013
It took me some time to fulfill my promise to visit my friend Joe Yap in Sabah again, but finally I booked a flight on 29 November to Kota Kinabalu, where she picked me up from the airport. We had decided to visit Sandakan, drive there on Saturday, stay two days and drive back on Monday to KK, in time to get my flight back in the evening. That left us the Friday afternoon.
After lunch, we first visited a nice Taoist temple, the Peak Nam Tong. In KK itself there is not much interesting to see, so I suggested that we could go again to the Kasih Sayang Resort, high up in the hills above KK. Famous for the views of the Kinabalu mountain and the town. But during my last visit it had been raining cats and dogs, no view at all.
This time it was not much better, both town and mountain remained shrouded in clouds.So we went home and had dinner in a Philippine restaurant.

Lunch in Janggut

Peak Nam Tong


Inside the temple

The roof

The pagoda

Kasih Sayang Resort

Very scenic views

A nearby church

Joe's condo

Preparing for the trip

The next morning started with a blue sky, after breakfast we started our long (~340 km) drive to Sandakan. The road is very scenic, we were lucky to have good views of the majestic Kinabalu mountain, especially near Tamparuli, where a hanging bridge crosses the river.
Our next stop was at the Kundasang cow farm. A COW FARM? Yes, with Friesian cows...:-). Quite amazing. There was also a calf and goat nursery and a shop where you could buy fresh milk.
An unexpected surprise in tropical Malaysia!

Where Joe is living

Old bridge near Tamparuli

View of Kinabalu

One for the album

Close-up of the jagged mountain ridge

The Kundasang cow farm

Unexpected to see cows here

Cows with a cattle egret

A real Friesian cow

Another one for the album

Nice with the clouds

Joe and the mountain

Me as a conqueror

Young goats

So cute (the goat)

When we next visited the War Memorial in Kundasang, we did not realise that this visit would change our trip program considerably..:-). It was here that we heard for the first time about the Sandakan Death Marches. In 1945 the Japanese Imperial Army forced more than thousand Australian and British Prisoners of War (POW's) to march from the POW-camp in Sandakan to Ranau on the slopes of Kinabalu mountain. None of them survived, except six Australians who managed to escape.
The memorial erected here, not far from Ranau, is quite impressive. It consists of four gardens, an Australian and an English one, one for the Sabahans who died during the occupation, and a tranquil Contemplation Garden with all the names of the POW's. Joe told me that at the Sabah Tea Plantation, our next stop, there was more information. The route of the Death Marches passed here, and there is a memorial for a POW who was killed here by the Japs. We had lunch, enjoying the fast changing cloud formations. In the shop I found a book, Sandakan: A Conspiracy of Silence and I could not resist the temptation to buy it.
It was still a long drive from here to Sandakan, where we arrived at our hotel around 7 pm. Dinner in the Sim Sim seafood restaurant. A popular place, with delicious (fresh)seafood.

Entrance of the Memorial

The British garden

The Australian garden

The Contemplation garden

The names of those who died

Kundasang village

Lunch at the Sabah Tea plantation

The book I bought


Quailey's Hill

More information

Swiss Inn Waterfront hotel

Comfortable room

Sim Sim seafood restaurant

Delicious and fresh

The next day we explored Sandakan, the weather was unstable, with quite a lot of rain. Sandakan has been bombed in 1945 by the allied forces and destroyed by the Japanese, so there is not much of interest. We visited a nearby fishing village,where we had an early lunch. On the hill slope above the village the beautiful Puu Jih Shih Buddhist Temple is located. From the terrace we had a nice view of the coastline and the sea.

Morning view

Fishing village near Sandakan

One of the jetties

Remnants of a boat

Drying fish

Hanging next to the laundry!

More drying fish

Restaurant in the village

Entrance Puu Jih Shih Buddhist Temple

Buddha statues along the access road

In the main hall


View from the temple terrace

One of the few buildings that have survived the war bombings is the Sam Sing Kung Temple, built in 1887. We also visited the Church of St Michael, in itself not spectacular, but now with the added interest for us, that it was in this church that the POW's spent their first night, after being transported by boat from Singapore, in July 1942. As it was a Sunday, there was a service going on (in Bahasa!), so we could only get glimpses of the stained-glass windows, commemorating the WWII tragedies.
Next we visited the Keith house. Agnes Keith was an American novelist, living from 1934 with her husband in Sandakan, until she was interred by the Japanese. Coming back after the war, and finding their hilltop bungalow destroyed, they rebuilt it on the same location. It is now a museum. I would not mind being the owner of such a beautiful house...:-)
Opposite the Keith House, you can have food and a drink at the English Tea garden

Sam Sing Kung Temple (1887)


A deity near the entrance


Church of St Michael

Sunday service in Bahasa!

Entrance to the Keith House

Keith House

The interior of the bungalow

The Tea garden

The restaurant of the Tea garden

Originally we had planned to visit the Orang Utan Sactuary at Sepilok, but with our sudden interest in the Sandakan Death Marches, we decided to visit the Sandakan War Memorial instead, about 13 km from the town center. It was at this exact location that the infamous Batu 8 POW-camp was located, where the POW's stayed and died. Not much is left of the camp, which housed more than 2400 POW's. The Japanese tried to obliterate all traces, as they knew that their treatment of the prisoners was a flagrant violation of the Geneva convention. The visit left a deep impression on both of us.
Back in Sandakan the rain had stopped, so we could enjoy a spectacular sunset before we went for our dinner.

Sandakan War Memorial


Scanty remains

The boiler

An excavator

Serene atmosphere

Sandakan sunset


Almost night

The next day, on our way back to KK, we visited the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary. I had read mixed reviews about this sanctuary, that it was too zoo-like. Groups of these splendid animals come daily from the mangrove jungle to the center for their food. They are used to humans, so you can approach them closely, although you are not allowed to touch them. I found it a unforgettable experience to come so close to these monkeys, almost family members, as they are called orang belanda in Malay. Translated: dutch men. Are our noses really so big...:-)?
There were also Silvered Leaf Monkeys and Hornbills. Foreigners have to pay RM 60 for entry plus RM 10 to take pictures, so not cheap, but definitely worth the money.

Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary

Male orang belanda
1 comment

Female, smaller nose

Pics of the two males

Females with kids

What is happening there?



Male with his harem

It was raining

They look unhappy.


They are a photographers delight

Compare the two noses

Silvered Leaf Monkey

Having lunch

Joe and monkey

It was still a long way to KK. On our way back we came across a few signboards marking the route of the Death Marches. And we had a last view of the Kinabalu mountain. Back in KK there was just enough time for a final dinner (delicious pork noodles) before Joe dropped me at the airport.

A memorable trip

Oriental Pied Hornbill

Signboard from the POW route

Near the Labuk river

Last view of Kinabalu

The food we have enjoyed

RIS wrote on Dec 7, 2013:
So you are convinced it's a male;-)

Kwai Loh wrote on Dec 8, 2013:
Yes, males have a longer nose. Or did you mean something else..haha?

lightlingmk2 wrote on Dec 11, 2013:
Of course you are surprised - you don't expect cows in grassland - they live in condo ! Thanks for sharing, orang Belanda. How are things with you ? Want to come over for CNY gathering 2014 ?

Liz wrote on Dec 14, 2013:
You didn't have afternoon tea or dinner in the tea house? Or play croquet? Pity.

Kwai Loh wrote on Dec 14, 2013:
It was a Sunday afternoon and too crowded. About croquet, we are not British, lah!

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