It took 6 hours to get from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan, and we arrived in darkness at an out of town bus station. Luckily a number of taxi drivers were waiting and although we probably paid a premium at 12RM to get into town, it was a fair price with the driver giving us an introduction to the local area. We also managed to find accommodation for the night without any hassle. Sandakan, much like Kota Kinabalu, did not compel me to take any photos. Unlike the Japanese, it looks like the people here missed a trick, or perhaps did not have enough funds when rebuilding the city after it was flattened in WW2. Both feeling a bit jaded after a full 3 days of travelling from the Cameron Highlands to Sandakan with little sleep, we still awoke at 7am the very next day to get to the Orang Utan rehabilitation centre in Sepilok...see the Sepilok articles for details. Once we had done the day trip to Sepilok, we looked in more detail at other excursions from our Sandakan base. We ruled out the possibility of visiting Turtle Island (a national park for turtle conservation) on cost. Nice to know it's there though...especially after not seeing any turtles around Koh Tao - which translates at 'Turtle Island' in Thai.
After further discussion over tea and scones (never thought that would happen again outside of the Cameron Highlands) we booked onto a fantastic 2-day/1-night trip to do a river Safari in Sukau that really did show us more of the wild side of Borneo that we liked so much. This completed our experience of the Sandakan area...more about this in the Sukau article.
The 'English Tea House' that served the tea and scones (where we see Julie looking so happy above!) was adjacent to Agnes Keith's house, the locally-revered author of 'Land Below the Wind' (the romantic sea-farers name for Borneo) whose house has been restored into a tourist attraction. After 5 nights/4 days in and around Sandakan, it was time to head to Kinabalu Park for our pre-booked Mount Kinabalu climbing package. We took the same bus back towards Kota Kinabalu, but stopped short at Kinabalu Park, right outside our mountainside hotel.