Sandakan, previous capital of Borneo

Trip Start Mar 17, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Monday, April 7, 2008

06/04:  Luggage pickup at 6h30! Breakfast. 1,5 hour boat to Sandakan. 9h: hotel. Same hotel as last time.
Would we do Lankayan again: no.
Are we glad we did it: yes.
We DID pay almost 500 Euro/person for the stay inclusive gear, exclusive drinks. It is a bit rude to advertise: '3 nights, 4 days when you are LEAVING AT 7 IN THE MORNING THE FORTH DAY'. We paid yesterday night and the staff made a mistake in our gear rental. They noticed it this morning and gave back our money.  
Know what you get: island with a resort and that is it. The staff was very nice. Except for the diving staff, especially Francis had a 'temper', NOT a good thing for a dive master. IF you want to go for the diving: you have to be a fan of the small stuff: Nudibranches, ghost pipe fish, ... .
Knowing what I know now: I would not book via this company anymore:
Reactions were always late and incomplete. Just go to one of the many travel agencies in town and I think they will book you on the spot.
We stay in the hotel all day. Hey, we have catching up to do!!! If you want to know where we are, I have to send pictures and stories to you! Dr T has to catch up with his computer games and call his family to remind them: we are almost on our way. We want to go to our dodgy restaurant, in the evening but it is closed. We go next door: the restaurant of a cheap hotel, where every dish costs: 1,25 Euro. We order 4 and cannot eat it all. At home, I try chatting a bit more but I am too tired. Half an hour of reading and I am asleep by 23h, not realizing that ...
07/04:  ... Tony got sick during the night: belly problems. He had lemon prawn, which I did not taste. Normally, we do not share the same food, in case there is something wrong with it. To avoid that we BOTH get sick. But we do sin, once in a while. He did not sleep well and in the morning, he still does not feel well.  We step out of the hotel at almost noon. The goal: the Japanese Cemetery. In fact, it is right behind our hotel but high up. We read about a 100 steps stairs: ouch! We do find chairs but they look too dodgy. We take the long way. We heard about a very nice tea house, in or around the Agnes Keith House. After a lot of climbing in very hot weather (hungry AND thirsty now) we find the: Agnes Keith House. At the ticket office, we ask whether we need a ticket for the tea garden. Eyes with question marks. There is a tea house? More question marks. The girl turns out to speak NO English, just 15 Ringgit per person. We buy a ticket and go looking for food and drinks first. Which we find. Nice setting. Excellent service. Good food:
Then we visit the house itself. This British colonial government quarters, called Newlands, was once occupied by famous American writer, Agnes Newton Keith, who penned Land Below The Wind in 1939. Two books followed her first success, namely Three Came Home (1946) and White Man Returns (1951). They were written in the house on the hill where she had the best views of Sandakan Bay at the front and the Sulu Sea at the back. Newlands was rebuilt some time in 1946/47 and was the first government permanent timber dwelling to be built after the Second World War. It was built upon the ruined foundations of the original house that was destroyed during the war. The house became home to Agnes and her family, Henry George Keith, who was the Conservator of Forests and their son, George. When the Keiths left Sabah in 1952 (and never returned), the house was always referred to as Agnes Keith's House by visitors who never stopped coming to see it. Today the house has been restored and turned into a heritage house, providing interesting insights to life during British North Borneo. It is furnished with a reproduction of colonial furniture and antiques. A gallery on the first floor tells the story of this remarkable woman, her books and her family. A Keith time-line starts in 1873 and ends in 2004 tracing the past to the present Keiths. It is beautiful, the inside even more than the outside but, be warned: no pictures can be taken insight. Why????? I certainly want to read her work.
Afterwards: the Japanese Cemetery, where the remains of Japanese soldiers who fought and died in Sabah during WWII and those of Japanese women and children who died in Sandakan, are buried. Food is lying on the graves and 'hell' money is everywhere.
We decide to climb down the stairs, hoping they go all the way. Well, they do not! Almost down, about 10 stairs collapsed. It is quite some maneuvering to step next to them!
Early afternoon, we are back home. I do the shopping for the coming days. Dr T feels better but we decide to spend the time in the room until dinner.
And now: well tomorrow morning, we fly back to Kuala Lumpur, where we book the dodgiest hotel:
We saw it, walking through china town. It said: doubles as from 9,9 ringgit a night (2,5 Euro). At the end, of course it is more (about 15 Euro) but we are promised: en-suite bathroom, A/C and wireless. We do have to HIRE towels, though.
Since I do not believe the wireless, this might be goodbye till in Perth: the 10th.
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