Busy day in Sandakan

Trip Start Jan 09, 2013
Trip End Jan 22, 2013

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Flag of Malaysia  , Sabah,
Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Yesterday, I signed up for a 2 day/1 night jungle river cruise in Kota Kinabatangan. Proboscis monkeys are specific to this side of Borneo and don't exist anywhere else, apparently. They are so funny looking - they have a nose that protrudes and droops down their face, with fat bellies. Since I had already seen orangutans and macaque monkeys in Sumatra, my main mission was to witness these rare proboscis.

On my 2-hr bus ride from Sandakan to the jungle lodge, we stopped and picked up other guests along the way. At the last stop, 3 girls hopped on and they were the girls I had shared a dorm with in KK! They were starting a 3 day/2 night stay at the same jungle lodge. Cool! We decided to share dorm room at the lodge.
The system at the lodge worked seamlessly. They have a river cruise scheduled twice a day, and a jungle trekking scheduled in the middle of the day. All the meals are provided in between these activities and they "gong" us to alert all the customers when it's time for an activity/meal. My package included 2 river cruises, one at sunset and sunrise. These are the prime times to see animals in action anyway, so I was happy to avoid trekking in the middle of a scorching day.
Between the 2 cruises, we saw many types of monkeys, including proboscis!! The unfortunate part was that we were on a boat in the river, so we were quite far from the animals high up on the trees, and I didn't get a good picture of any of them (sorry)!

The night in the jungle lodge was interesting. I had slept with even less accommodation in Sumatra (such as solid wall or roof!), but it's quite different when you're warned of scorpions, snakes and even crocodiles that may be lurking on property. Our toilet/shower facility was distant from our dorm cabin, so we made trips in teams just in case we encountered danger! Haha. I had fun with the girls and it was sad to say goodbye again.

After our sunrise cruise at 6am, I checked out of the jungle lodge and headed back to Sandakan to visit the War Memorial. When I arrived back in town, I checked into a hostel, and headed straight to the central bus station.
It felt like a long time since I've been on a real public transport. In Indonesia, I took a lot of modern transport like planes, taxis, and ferries. I think Thailand was the last time I rode those rickety local transport ;-). It was nice to share a van with locals and ride through their neighborhoods.
The War Memorial was a small but beautifully maintained property, that was once a small section of a POW camp where the Japanese military housed Australian and British prisoners of war during 1942-45. There were a total of 5000 POWs who were kept at Sandakan POW camp and another POW camp at Ranau. About a thousand of these soldiers were forced to walk the Death March between these camps which was 260km long! Only 2 survived the march, and 6 remained alive at the end of the war. At the Sandakan POW camp that I visited, there were no survivors. All perished by the hands of the Japanese or diseases/malnutrition. The land that once kept the POWs is now converted into large apartment buildings and it was hard to picture what it used to be.
A jungle tour and a history lesson all in a day's work. Not bad ;)
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Janel on

Wow, you really have been a busy bee! You surely have gotten a thorough experience on this trip, I love it, its like reading my favorite novel never know what I am going to see/read about ;-) .
p.s. you have a great camera, the colors are so vivid what kind is it? (feel free to answer me by email so your blog readers aren't bored)

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