EcoTourismHub
Page: Sandakan's Many Charm

Ecotourism Hub
   Eco Means of Travel
   KLIA-Leading in Eco-Standards
   KLIA-Next Generation Hub
   KKIA domestic hub
   Benchmark for National Parks
   What Ecotourism should be
Ecotourism Destinations | Malaysia
   Borneo Island | Ecotourism
   Sabah
   Imbak Canyon Conservation
   Colonial-styled Passenger Train
   Rhino Saved in dramatic rescue
   Climb Mt Kinabalu
   Challenges of scaling Mt Kinabalu
   Been there, done that
   Mt Kinabalu Climbathon
   Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary
   Sandakan's Many Charm
   Coral Reef in Semporna
   Sipadan Island
   Dive Permit at Sipadan
   Scuba Diving
   Best Diving Spots
   Protecting Sipadan
   Mabul Island
   Semporna kidnap
   Pom Pom Island
   Rare Whale
   The Finest Forests
   Shark Fin Ban
   Casino stops serving Shark fin
   Airline joins Shark fin ban
   Kinabalu Park World Heritage
   Sarawak
   A Memorable Visit to Bako
   Semenggoh Wildlife Centre
   Birding Havens in Sarawak
   Segon Cave and Bung Brunggu
   Borneo Convention Centre
   Biodiversity | Sarawak
   155,000ha allowed
   Singer Dayang to Help Orang Utans
   Ancient Croc Effigies
   Potential Ecotourism Icon
   Peninsular Malaysia | Ecotourism
   Taman Negara
   Living off the forest’s bounty
   350kg Tapir
   Endau Rompin National Park
   Endau-Rompin Location Map
   Kenyir Lake
   Kenyir Lake Triathlon
   Kenyir Lake DFZ
   Rebirth of Kenyir Lake
   Frasers Hill
   Royal Belum
   Leaders In Destinations
   Rakan Royal Belum
   Save Temenggor
   Lessons in the Forest
   Cameron Highlands
   Looking for the Silk King
   New Route
   Sepetang Serenade
   Turtle Sanctuary Site in Kemaman
   Heritage Sites Malaysia
   Lenggong Valley
   George Town and Malacca Heritage Sites
   Kinabalu Park Heritage Site
   Mulu Cave Geopark
   Danum Valley
   Maliau Basin
   Bid for Unesco listing
   Valley of Heritage
   Ramsar sites | Malaysia
   Ramsar sites in Sarawak
   Events and Festivals Malaysia
   Most Searched Travel Spots 2011
   Indigenous Malaysian Tribes
   Indigenous Peninsular Malaysia
   Danawan Island home to Sea Gypsies
Costa Rica
   Retire Here, Not There: Costa Rica
   Costa Rica's Unspoiled Coast
Ecotourism News
   Open Zoo
   Rainforest Rock Festival
   Great Wall in Gopeng
   WTC2010
   Belaga braces for tourism boom
   Tourism drops
   Palazzo Park
   Permaculture
   Rainforest World Music Festival
   WEC2010
   Focus on eco-tourism
   Kuala Gandah Elephant Centre
   Ecotourism Spotlight Award
   Tourism News
   Art Tourism Hub
   Shopping Hub
   Art Tourism
Forest Reserve
   2010 Year of Biodiversity
   The Belum Forest Reserve
   Pulau Banding Rainforest Research Centre
   Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve
   Plant Mangrove Saplings in Port Dickson
   FRIM’s first research station
   FRIM declared heritage site
   FRIM PHOTO CONTEST
   Forest Reserve News
   South Peat Swamp Forest
   Forest Reserve to grow Oil Palm
   Save the Rain Forest
   Demystifying Forensic Forestry
   Forest Reserve in Pangkor
   Forest Research Centre - Sabah
   Forest reserve gazetted in Puchong
   Rape of Lenggong forest reserve
   Development project in Forest Reserve
   FruitPlast
   SAFE Project
   SEARRP
   Saving Temenggor
   Selangor Peat Swamp
   Vanishing wetlands
   Before it is Too Late
   Tree Cover-up
   Forests to Tree Farms
   Forest by the Coast
Green
   IGEM
   The Green Initiatives
   Ecologic Label
   Rebuilding the Green Concept
   Sabah Intensifies Green Effort
   Going Google can mean Going Green
   City of Kyoto from Car-Centric to Walking City
   Turning Consumers Green
   Penang mulling over No-car Zone
   3Rs among Malaysians
   Independent Power Producer
   Roof-top Secret Garden
   Bamboo
   Population and Food
   Never Drink From Plastic
Water
   Water Footprint
   Think water conservation
   Bakun Dam
   Turning to Eco-tourism
   Bengoh Dam
   Water Concern
   Beach
   Tap Water
   Water Worries 1
   Mini-hydro Plant
   Mekong River
   Mekong News
   Water Challenge
   Looming Water Crisis
Sustainable Food Source
   Eating Insects
   U.N. Urges Eating Insects
   Insects may be the answer
   Eat Insects
   Meat is Not Green
   Health Benefits of Eating Less Meat
   Vegetarian Athletes
   Catherine Johnson, Vegan Cyclist
   Vegan Athlete of the Year 2013
   Totally Vegetarian
   Veganism and the Environment
   Mongolia Nomads
   Antibiotics in Feed
   Butter is back
Wildlife Malaysia
   Carcasses of Tigers, Leopards from Malaysia
   Malayan Tiger
   Tiger spotted on road
   Save the Tiger
   Rare Photo
   Tracing Malaysia's Tigers
   A New Hope For Malayan Tigers
   The Conservation Of Tigers
   Why Tigers Matter
   Tiger Ambassador
   White Tiger Cubs
   Siberian tiger
   Natural Habitat for Tigers
   King of the Jungle
   Permits for Zoo
   Rainbow Toad
   Orang Utan
   Leave orang utan alone
   Orang Utans
   Save Orang Utans
   Orang Utan Island
   Orang Utan Reserve in the Klang Valley
   Fireflies
   Fireflies Sanctuary gazetted
   Firefly Festival Taiping
   Crocodile Farm
   Marine Ecosystem
   Semporna marine life
   Shark
   Shark Sanctuaries
   Drop in Shark Catch
   No to Shark Fin Soup
   Stop Selling Shark Fin
   Dolphins in Port Klang
   Golden Arowana
   Symbol of Prosperity
   The Unsung Heroes
   Bees
   Save Bees From Extinction
   When Bee Stop Making Honey
   Honeybees need Help
   Help our Disappearing Bees
   Bringing back Honeybees
   Ladybird
   Dung Beetle
   Ants
   Earthworms
   Frog
   Hornbill
   Elephant
   Wild elephant
   Uneasy feeling
   Sea Anemone
   Dolphin
   Human-wildlife Conflict
   Perhilitan sets Trap for Panther
   Wildlife Act
   Illegal Wildlife Traders
   Rafflesia and Conservation Efforts
   new Rafflesia species found
   Cengal Besar
   Migratory Birds
Climate Change
   New directions for the UN
   Canada withdrawing from Kyoto
   Haze

July 29, 2011

Sandakan’s many charms

By Aida Ahmad
aidaahmad@thestar.com.my

THE one question most people asked me when I returned from my familiarisation trip to Sandakan was, “How many orang utans did you see?”

Granted, that was one of the highlights during the tour of Sabah’s second largest town. However, Sandakan has more to offer than just primates.

Located on the north-eastern coast of Borneo facing the Sulu Sea, Sandakan is home to the famous Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, Kinabatangan River and Sandakan War Memorial Park.

A few media members were taken on this trip organised by Firefly. From the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), it takes two hours and 40 minutes to reach Sandakan.


Popular cruise: The lower Kinabatangan area is a hotspot to bird-watch.
As of Aug 1, Firefly will launch a new route to Sandakan with two daily flights.

With a population of about 500,000, comprising mostly indigenous people such as the Bajau, Orang Sungai, Bugis and Malay-Brunei, Sandakan used to be Sabah’s capital before World War II broke out.

“When the war ended, Sandakan was totally destroyed, partly from the Allied bombings. When the British North Borneo Company could not afford to rebuild the city, the capital was shifted to Jesselton, now known as Kota Kinabalu,” revealed Borneo Trails operations executive Jame Marajan.

Borneo Trails offers guided city, adventure as well as tailor-made tour packages, conventions and hotel arrangements around Sabah.

After landing at Sandakan Airport, we piled up in a van and took a two-hour drive to Sukau — a small village with less than 600 inhabitants located in the southern part of Sandakan.

We hopped on a five-minute boat ride at the Sukau jetty along the Kinabatangan River to head to the Proboscis Lodge Bukit Melapi where we stayed.


Chilling out: Resident orang utan Brit and her baby Charley at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.
Kinabatangan River

According to Jame, early contacts between the local and Chinese traders along the river, date back to as early as 631 AD.

“The traders from China used to exchanged goods such as porcelain, jugs and spoons for forest products which included bird nests,” he added.

The lower Kinabatangan area is home to at least 200 different species of birds including eight species of hornbills.

While partaking in the river cruise, you will notice ropes tied on the trees linking them on each side of the river. This is to allow the wild orang utans to cross the river to other parts of the jungle.

“The Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary consists of a gazetted area of 26,000ha which is a habitat for the Borneo Pygmy elephants and orang utans,” added Jame.

For nature enthusiasts, you can opt for basic accommodation at the Borneo Nature Lodge, Proboscis Lodge Bukit Melapi, Sukau Rainforest Lodge, Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge and Sukau River Lodge.

The two-hour river cruise also took us to one of the Kinabatangan tributaries — Menanggul River.

We were told this was one of the best small tributaries in the lower Kinabatangan area to spot kingfishers, egrets and eagles as well as to embark on jungle trekking.

Look up in the trees and if you are lucky, you will see the famous Proboscis monkey perched on one of the branches.

We were up at 6am the next day to go to the Kelelanap Oxbow Lake.

The thick blanket of morning mist over the river provided a mysterious ambience as you trail further into the wilderness.

About 20 oxbow lakes form part of the lower regions of the river. Created over time and separated from the main river by erosion, oxbow lakes are paradise for bird watchers and photographers.

After breakfast, it was another boat ride back to Sukau followed by a 30-minute drive to Gomantong Caves.

Gomantong Caves

This is one of the renowned caves for bird nest harvesting in Borneo. It consists of two cave complexes — Black Cave (Simud Hitam) which produces the black swiftlet nests and White Cave (Simud Putih) for the white swiftlet nests.

Bird nests from Gomantong can fetch a hefty price of between RM1,500 to RM2,500 per kg.

Harvesting season takes place three times a year from March/April, August/September and December. The harvesters have learnt a dangerous skill to collect the nests. They climb up rattan ladders with the assistance of ropes (minus harnesses) while others wait below to help steer the bamboo platform.

To get to the cave entrance, you will need to pass a wooden platform above the rainforest floor.

This is an interesting walk as one may be able to spot various species of monkeys and other wild animals along the way. Imagine our surprise (and horror) when we came across a venomous Bamboo Pitviper lurking in the trees.

As you get closer to the cave, you will get the first whiff of the pungent ammonia — that is from the piles of guano deposited by resident cave bats.

One piece of advice — bring a small torchlight, wear good hiking shoes (with proper traction), a hat and slather yourself with copious amount of insect repellent before entering.

You will see there is a wooden walkway with hand railings which goes around the cave. Avoid touching the railing unless you want to get acquainted with the other cave dwellers — giant red cockroaches and centipedes.

Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre

A boardwalk leads you to a viewing gallery and feeding platform where the orang utans are fed milk and bananas twice a day at 10am and 3pm by rangers.

The centre was set up in 1964 to rehabilitate orphaned baby orang utans. Set in the lush 4,300ha Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, the centre attracts tourists and researchers alike, giving them the opportunity to watch orang utans up close in their natural habitat.

Briton Ann Birtwell who is a warden at the centre said it takes seven years for a baby orang utan to know the skills of the forest.

“It is very emotional to see the tenderness the mother gives to the baby orang utan,” she said.

The primate residents here are Brit, which is 18 years old and has a three-month old baby called Charley. Mimi is the dominant female here and has a seven-year-old son called Ronny.

After breakfast the next day, we were taken on a city tour to visit some of the major attractions including the Sandakan Memorial Park.

One of the atrocities of World War II was the Sandakan Death Marches when Japanese soldiers decided to move about 2,400 prisoners of war 260km inland to the town of Ranau.

The Australian and British prisoners who did not die en-route to Ranau were crammed into unsanitary huts where most either died of dysentery or killed by prison guards.

The tour later covered Sandakan Central Market, Puu Jih Shih Buddhist Temple, Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, Agnes Keith House, Buli Sim Sim Water Village, and the English Tea House and Restaurant.

For enquiries, call 089-213 799 or visit www.borneotrails.com


Ecotourism Hub
Ecotourism Destinations | Malaysia
Ecotourism News
Green
Wildlife Malaysia
Glossary Ecotourism
Contact Ecotourismhub.com