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Sandakan

 

Sandakan 's old town was built along a narrow strip of land in a sheltered bay on the north eastern part of Sabah . Most visitors to Sandakan arrive with an agenda. This town isn't one to visit for the sake of taking in the sights. Early writers regaled the unmatched beauty of Sandakan bay looking out into the vast Sulu Sea. A small expatriate community of 80 or so made a life in this remote jungle town. Wooden houses on stilts lined the coast and large barges floated down from the interior filled with large, precious hardwood logs. timber ready for processing and for export back to Britain and Europe .

sandakan bay - view from the Puuh Jih Shih Buddhist Temple

About a century earlier, this unpopulated land came under the suzerainty of the Sultan of Sulu who ruled the southern islands, (which was later to be part of the Philippines ), as with much of Northern Borneo . The mysterious wild islands in South East China Seas brought many adventurers and fortune seekers from Europe, ready to sacrifice their lives to the unknown in search of riches readily awaiting to be tapped in its natural resources. William Clarke Cowie, a Scottish gun smuggler from Glasgow, received permission from the Sultan to establish a small trading base. He built the first European settlement and called it Sandakan, which in Tausug (Sulu) means " the place that was pawned ".

In 1878, Sultan Jamalul Alam - Sultan of Sulu needed firearms to hold back advancing Spanish colonizers from taking control of the Sulu Archipelago. With limited finances and lack of firearm supplier, the Sultan leased his territory of North Borneo to Gustavus von Overbeck, an Austrian who was the Austro-Hungarian Empire's consul-general in Hong Kong . Overbeck found financial backing from the Dent brothers - Alfred and Edward Dent. With Dents' financial aid, Overbeck managed to procure the firearms and also paid the Sultan an annual sum of 5,000 Malaysian dollars. However, Overbeck could not interest his government to invest in this new land and he later pulled out of the venture. Alfred Dent, his brother and several others later formed the British North Borneo Chartered Company. Unlike Sarawak under the ruling of the Brooke Dynasty, North Borneo was run by a company. even though in 1888, it became a protectorate of Great Britain. The British Administration was only largely in charge of foreign relations.

Work started soon and forests were being harvested for its tropical wood especially so for its hardwood. In the mid-1930s, Sandakan's timber export reached 180,000 cubic meters, making it the largest timber-exporting port of tropical wood in the world.

The harbour was chock-a-block with barges laiden with timber. The Conservator of Forests, Henry (or more affectionately known as Harry) Keith had been in Sabah since 1925. In 1934, he married Agnes Newton who came to live in a modest colonial house on a hilltop, in Sandakan and made Sabah a dot in the world map with having written several books accounts of her life during her tenure in Sabah. Now the Sabah is commemorating her by having restored her home on the hill.

Agnes Keith's House

Agnes and Harry Keith's house sits atop a hill, overlooking the Sandakan Bay. In her first book, 'Land Below The Wind', she writes,' When we sat in that house and looked out through its open doors the harbor of Sandakan.became a background to our entire world. I knew then that was where I wanted to live.' Agnes and Harry lived in their original house from 1934 until 1942 when they were interned by the Japanese and sent to prison camps first on Pulau Berhala near Sandakan and then to the Batu Lintang camp at Kuching.  Harry persuaded Agnes to write accounts of their lives in Sandakan and in Sabah to pass her leisure time. Agnes had a books published. First of the trilogy was published in 1939 and became a big seller in America where she came from. The 2 nd book, Three Came Home was her account as an intern in prison camps during the Japanese Occupation and was published in 1946. The 3 rd book, White Man Returns was published in 1951, an account of life in Sandakan - post war.

When the Keith family returned to Sandakan after the war they found their house destroyed, as with the rest of Sandakan town. Sandakan had to be built from scratch again. The retreating Japanese army razed the town and Keith's house, which was occupied by Japanese officers, was no exception. It was rebuilt in 1946-47 on the original foundations to the same design and was the first government permanent timber house to be built after the war. 

Agnes and Harry named it "Newlands" and they lived in it until they left Sabah in 1952. After their departure, the house passed through many tenants and in the 1990's was left abandoned to vagrants. In 2001, the Sabah Museum in collaboration with the Federal Department of Museums began restoration work on the house.

Today Agnes Keith's house is a prime example of how, if we put our mind into it . we can produce quality. Unlike many other projects that have all but put our country to shame that has shown such inadequate research and non-commitment placed on those projects.

Although the house is but any other colonial house found ubiquitous some 60years ago. it's now become a rarity as Malaysia surges towards 2020's vision of modernisation. Many have been torn down to make way for development unfortunately. Agnes Keith's house has a story to tell. On the 1 st floor, a well documented account of Agnes and Harry's life is displayed in a series of Perspex sheets and an audio visual room has great video screenings of what it was like in Sandakan during the early 1900's. If you wish to watch the videos, just ask the officer and he will be more than happy to screen them for you.

Opening Hours: 9.00am - 5.00pm everyday

Entrance fee: RM15 Non Malaysians. RM2 Malaysians

Location: hilltop at Jalan Istana. Visitors can either follow the Sandakan trail route. There is a trail up some 100 steps (also known as stairs with a hundred steps) from the old town area. The trail sits right opposite the Sandakan Tourist Information Centre.

Just a hop away is the english teahouse which serves English meals as well as afternoon tea and scones. Those interested in a game of croquet can have a game whilst sipping cold lemonade on a sunny day.

 

more on sandakan...

 

Accommodation and Packages to North Sabah ~ Sandakan, Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Gomantong Cave, Selingan Turtle Island , Lankayan Island , Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, Sukau Area , Danum Valley , Tabin Wildlife Reserve & Lahad Datu

Trips & Packages :

Day Trips

Sepilok OrangUtan Rehabilitation Centre
| 1/2 Day Sepilok OrangUtan Rehabilitation Centre Tour | Full Day Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre & Safari River Cruise Trip |

Guomantong Cave
Bilit Rainforest Lodge ~ | Full Day to Gomantong Cave & Bilit River Cruise |

Tabin Wildlife Reserve
Tabin Wildlife Resort ~ | Tabin Wildlife Mud Volcano |

Overnight Trips

Kinabatangan / Sukau Wildlife Sanctuary
Barefoot Sukau Lodge ~ | 1 Day 1 Night Package | 2 Days 2 Nights Package |

Bilit Rainforest Lodge ~ | 2 Days 1 Night Sepilok Orang Utan / Bilit / Gomantong Cave / City Trip |

Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge ~ | 2 Days 1 Night Sandakan Safari Trip |

Nature Lodge Kinabatangan ~ | 2 Days 1 Night Nature Lodge Kinabatangan |

Kinabatangan Jungle Camp ~ | 1 day 1 night Package Tour |

Myne Resort ~ | 2 Days 1 Night Gomantong / Bilit / Sepilok / City Tour |

Sukau Proboscis Lodge ~ | 2 Days 1 Night Sukau Proboscis Lodge Bukit Melapi Package|

Sukau Rainforest Lodge ~ | 2 Days 1 Night Kinabatangan Wildlife Safari Trip |

Sukau River Lodge ~ | 2 days 1 night Sukau / Kinabatangan River / Sepilok Tour |

Abai Village / Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary

Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort ~ | 2 Day 1 Night “Discover the wild side of Lower Kinabatangan” Package |

Selingan Turtle Island
Selingan Island Chalets ~ | 1 Day 1 Night Selingan Island Tour | 2 Days 1 Night Selingan Island And Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Tour |

Tabin Wildlife Reserve
Tabin Wildlife Resort ~ | 2 Days 1 Night Tabin Wildlife Encounter |

3 Days 2 Nights Packages

Kinabatangan / Sukau Wildlife Sanctuary
Bilit Rainforest Lodge ~ | 3 Days 2 Nights Gomantong Cave / Bilit / Ox-bow lake / Bilit / City tour | 3 Days 2 Nights Turtle Island/Sepilok Orang Utan Centre/Bilit/Gomantong cave/City Tour |

Borneo Nature Lodge ~ | 3 Days 2 Nights Borneo Nature Lodge Package |

Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge ~ | Sandakan Safari Extravaganza Package | Sukau Wildlife Safari Package |

Myne Resort ~ | 3 Days 2 Nights Safari Adventure | 3 Days 2 Nights Venture Bilit Trip |

Sukau Proboscis Lodge ~ | 3 Days 2 Nights Sukau Proboscis Lodge Bukit Melapi Package|

Sukau Rainforest Lodge ~ | Kinabatangan Wildlife Safari Package |

Sukau River Lodge ~ | 3 days 2 nights Sukau / Kinabatangan River / Sepilok Tour | 3 days 2 nights Selingan / Kinabatangan River / Sepilok Tour | 3 days 2 nights Selingan / Libaran / Sepilok Tour |

Abai Village / Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary
Abai Jungle Lodge ~ | Abai & Sukau Trip | Abai with a Local Touch Package | Abai Jungle Lodge Package | 3 Days 2 Nights Selingan Island & Abai Trip |

Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort ~ | 3 Days 2 Nights “Discover the wild side of Lower Kinabatangan” Package |

Danum Valley
Borneo Rainforest Lodge ~ | 3 days 2 nights Borneo Rainforest Explorer |

Tabin Wildlife Reserve
Tabin Wildlife Resort ~ | 3 Days 2 Nights - Tabin Wildlife Observation and Nature |

4 Days 3 Nights Packages

Kinabatangan / Sukau Wildlife Sanctuary
Bilit Rainforest Lodge ~ | 4 Days 3 Nights Sepilok Orang Utan Centre/Bilit/Oxbow lake/Gomantong cave /City Tour/Sabah Hotel | 4 Days 3 Nights Turtle Island/Sepilok Orang Utan Centre/Bilit/Oxbow Lake/Gomantong Cave/City Tour |

Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge ~ | 4 Days 3 Nights Sandakan Safari Adventure | 4 Days 3 Nights Sukau & Abai Package | 4 Days 3 Nights Selingan Island, Sukau & Abai Package | 4 Days 3 Nights Abai & Sukau Package |

Abai Jungle Lodge ~ | 4 Days 3 Nights Selingan Island & Abai |

Myne Resort ~ | 4 Days 3 Nights Borneo Extravaganza |

Sukau Rainforest Lodge ~ 4 Days 3 Nights Selingan Turtle Island, Sepilok OrangUtan & Kinabatangan River Safari | 4 Days 3 Nights Orang Utan Search |

Sukau River Lodge ~ | 4 Days 3 Nights Selingan Turtle Island/ Sukau/Kinabatangan River/ Sepilok Orang Utan Centre Tour | 4 Days 3 Nights Selingan / Libaran / Gomantong / Sukau / Sepilok Tour |

Danum Valley
Borneo Rainforest Lodge ~ | 4 days 3 nights Borneo Rainforest Package |

Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Tabin Wildlife Resort ~ | 4 Days 3 Nights Birding at Tabin Package | 4 Days 3 Nights Overnight at Mud Volcano Package |

5 Days 4 Nights Packages

Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary

Bilit Rainforest Lodge ~ | 5 Days 4 Nights Turtle Island / Sepilok Orang Utan / Bilit / Ox-bow / Gomantong / City Tour / Sabah Hotel Package |

Sukau River Lodge ~ | 5 Days 4 Nights Wildlife of Borneo |

Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary & Danum Valley
Sukau Rainforest Lodge & Borneo Rainforest Lodge ~ | Kinabatangan Safari, Gomantong Cave & Danum Valley Rainforest Package |

Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary & Abai Village
Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge ~ | 5 Days / 4 Nights Bird Watching at Sukau & Abai | 5 Days 4 Nights Sandakan Borneo's Wildlife Package |

Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary & Tabin Wildlife Reserve
Sukau Rainforest Lodge & Borneo Rainforest Lodge ~ | 5 Days 4 Nights Sukau -Tabin Wildlife Experience Package |

6 Days 5 Nights Packages

Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary & Abai Village
Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge & Abai Jungle Lodge ~ | 6 Days 5 Nights Sandakan Discovery Package |

Around Sabah Tour

| Drive Around Borneo in 10 Days | Borneo's Big 5 in 10 Days | Journey through Borneo Rainforests |

Bird Watching Tours

| 14 days 13 nights Birding in Borneo | 5 Days / 4 Nights Bird Watching at Sukau & Abai |

Volunteer / Student Programmes

| 5 Days Borneo Orangutan and Pygmy Elephant Volunteer Experience | 5 Day Wild@Heart Conservation Student Programme | 7 Days 6 Nights Borneo Orangutan and Pygmy Elephant Experience for Families | 12 Days Orangutan & Pygmy Elephant Volunteer Adventure | 26 Days Zoo, Orangutan & Pygmy Elephant Volunteer Adventure |

Dive Trips

| Lankayan Dive Packages |

Combination Trips

| 10 Days 9 Nights Sabah Nature & Sipadan Dive Trip | 10 Days 9 Nights Kinabalu, Sandakan Wildlife & Kapalai Dive Trip | 9 Days 8 Nights Mount Kinabalu Climb and Sukau Wildlife Adventure | 7 Days 6 Nights Kota Kinabalu & Sandakan Wildlife Adventure | 6 Days 5 Nights Sandakan Wildlife Adventure & Lankayan Island Trip |

Accommodation :

Sandakan Town

| 2 Inn 1 Boutique Hotel & Spa | Best Western Hotel & Serviced Apartments | Borneo Cove Hotel | Central Hotel Sandakan | Hotel City Star | Four Points By Sheraton Sandakan | Hsiang Garden Hotel | Hotel Kensington | Labuk Hotel | The Mark's Lodge | Nak Hotel | The Pavilion Hotel | Hotel Sandakan | Sanbay Hotel | Sabah Hotel | Hotel Tyng Garden | Swiss Inn Waterfront |

Sepilok Nature Reserve area

| Paganakan Dii Tropical Retreat | Sepilok Nature Resort | Sepilok Forest Edge Resort |

Kinabatangan River

Sukau Area | Balai Kilo Homestay |

Bilit Area | Bilit Kinabatangan Heritage Bed & Breakfast |

Batu Puteh | Misowalai Homestay |

Lahad Datu

| Asia Hotel | De Leon Hotel | Executive Hotel | Felda Residence Sahabat | Kingston Hotel Grace | My Inn | Royal Palms Hotel & Spa | Silam Dynasty |

Accommodation in other areas of Sabah:

Tawau

| Heritage Hotel | Belmont Marco Polo | Promenade Hotel

Semporna

| Seafest Hotel | Singamata Adventure Semporna |

Mabul

| Sipadan Water Village Resort | Sipadan Mabul Resort | Borneo Divers Mabul Island Resort | Seaventure Platform | Mabul Water Bungalows |

Kapalai

| Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort |

Mataking

| Reef Dive Resort |

Kota Kinabalu

5 Star Hotels | Hyatt Regency | Le Meridien Hotel | Novotel 1 Borneo |

4 Star Hotels | Beverly Hotel | Jesselton Hotel | Grand Borneo Kota Kinabalu | Promenade Hotel |

3 Star Hotels | Celyn Hotel Warisan Square | Celyn Hotel City Mall | Cititel Express | Courtyard Hotel | Hotel Sixty3 | Kinabalu Daya Hotel | Imperial Boutec | Imperial International Hotel | Le Hotel | Manja Hotel | Palace Hotel | Hotel Shangri-La | Tang Dynasty | The Klagan Hotel |

Motels | D'Borneo Hotel | First Century Hotel | Crown Borneo Hotel |

Budget Inns & Homestays | Akinabalu Youth Hostel | Borneo Adventure Centre & Lodge | Borneo Backpackers | Borneo Global Backpackers | Buddy Backpackers Home | Lucy's Homestay | Lyn's Lodge Bed and Breakfast | North Borneo Cabin | Planet Kinabalu | Trekker's Lodge | Xplorer's Backpackers |

Beach Resorts | Tanjung Aru ~ Megah D'Aru Hotel | Shangri La's Tanjung Aru Resort | Tuaran ~ Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort | Tuaran Beach Resort | Kinarut, Papar ~ Beringgis Beach Resort | Langkah Syabas Beach Resort | Kota Kinabalu ~ Nexus Karambunai Resort | Sutera Harbour Resort - Magellan Sutera | Sutera Harbour Resort - Pacific Sutera |

Service Apartments | Colonnades Condominium | Likas Square Condotel | Marina Court Resort Condominium | Promenade Apartments | Sabah Apartment |

Island Resorts | Gaya ~| Bunga Raya Island Resort | Gayana Eco Resort | Mantanani Besar ~ Mari Mari Backpackers Lodge | Pulau Tiga ~ Pulau Tiga Resort (Survivor Island) |

Kinabalu Park | Lodges at Kinabalu Park | Cabins at Laban Rata | Lodges at Mesilau Nature Resort | Kinabalu Park & Poring Hotsprings Package | Kinabalu Park & Surrounding Day Tours |

Outside Kinabalu Park | Celyn Resort Kinabalu | D'villa Rina Ria Lodge | Kinabalu Pines Resort | Mount Kinabalu Heritage Resort & Spa | Zen Garden Resort |

Trips & Packages in other areas of Sabah :

Kota Kinabalu & Outskirts Day And Overnight Trips

Day Trips | Kota Kinabalu City Tour | Kinabalu City By Night | Monsopiad Cultural Village | Kota Belud Sunday Market | Kudat Rungus Longhouse | Manukan & Sapi Island Hopping | Kinabalu National Park | Poring Hot Spring | Kinabalu National Park & Poring Hot Spring | Overnight Trips | Kinabalu National Park & Poring Hot Spring (2 days 1 night) | Rungus Longhouse Cultural Trip (2 days 1 night)|

Outdoor Sporting & Nature Activities

| Garama Wetland Cruise | White Water Rafting Day Trips at Padas or Kiulu | Tambunan Rafflesia Rainforest Tour |

Mountain Climbing

| Mount Kinabalu/Kinabalu Park Packages | Mount Kinabalu Via Ferrata | Mount Kinabalu Climb and Walk The Torq Via Ferrata | Mount Kinabalu Climb and Low's Peak Circuit Tour | Mount Trusmadi Climb |

Combination Trips

| 10 Days 9 Nights Sabah Nature & Sipadan Dive Trip | 10 Days 9 Nights Kinabalu , Sandakan Wildlife & Kapalai Dive Trip | 9 Days 8 Nights Mount Kinabalu Climb and Sukau Wildlife Adventure | 7 Days 6 Nights Kota Kinabalu & Sandakan Trip, Sabah | 7 Days 6 Nights Kota Kinabalu & Sandakan Wildlife Adventure | 6 Days 5 Nights Sandakan Wildlife Adventure & Lankayan Island Trip |

 

Malaysia Cities , Towns & Villages

Peninsula Malaysia Cities , Towns & Villages

Kedah

| Alor Setar |

Terengganu

| Chukai | Dungun | Kemaman | Kijal | Kuala Terengganu | Paka |

Perak

| Ipoh | Kuala Kangsar | Lumut | Taiping |

Selangor

| Klang | Kuala Selangor |

Kelantan

| Kota Bahru |

Federal Territory

| Kuala Lumpur |

Johor

| Mersing |

Negri Sembilan

| Seremban | Kuala Pilah | Lukut |

Pahang

| Sungei Lembing | Kuala Lipis | Kuantan |

Melaka

| Melaka |

Sabah and Sarawak Towns , Cities & Villages

Sarawak

| Kuching | Long Bedian | Long Lama | Long Terawan | Miri | Marudi |

Sabah

| Sandakan | Kota Kinabalu | Tawau |