Sightseeing in Sandakan

posted in: Borneo, Food, Nature, Temples | 0

Again, due to camera problems, no pictures in this post :( I know, I know. I’ll just try to put extra nice ones when I next can.

Firefly Cruise

This particular tour was organized by the owner of my hostel in Sandakan. So me and a few travelers from the hostel got on an hired boat and headed out to a more secluded place. We passed one village where houses are painted certain colors to indicated the genealogical line, to avoid genetic problems due to inbreeding.

We enjoyed a few snacks on the way and finally the captain cut the engine. We were where we were supposed to be. The first part of this tour aimed at experiencing the silence of the jungle. The insects were making quite a ruckus louder and louder as the sunset approached, and then nothing. It was like an invisible signal had been given and they all became quiet. Well… all except a few rebels here and there.

Once darkness was upon us, the fireflies slowly started coming out. I expected more of them, but they were quite shy that night it seems. You can’t really control nature, that’s why it’s so amazing to be out there. Still a few brave ones come out, one even decided to chill out on my head. That was fine by me.

We stayed there enjoying the silence for a while before heading back.

Sim Sim Village

The Sim Sim Village is basically a fisherman village made of houses on stilts in the water. These houses are linked together by a wooden walkway. When taking the walkway, you should be careful. It doesn’t appear to be the safest construction with traces of rotten wood. I tried walking on the support beams.

As you walk around, you see children running on the walkway. I don’t know for you, but I was just hoping really hard they knew how to swim. They probably do, although I didn’t see any actively swimming.

I was invited into the house of the sister of my driver, where she had some pearl bracelets and necklaces on display. She had many beautiful children and her house was so pretty and spacious. Almost made me jealous, I was really impressed!

I really loved the opportunity to meet her and her children. They were truly kind and charming.

I also saw a very strange thing while I was there. You know those big bird cages? Well, imagine that as a living habitat for cats. Cats in birdcages… I was told it was because cats are considered precious and they don’t want them to fall off the walkways and drown. It just struck me as very strange.

Puu Jih Shih Buddhist Temple

I really wished I didn’t lose the pictures of the temple. I mean, I did get here after it was closed, so I couldn’t see inside, but the outside was quite impressive on its own. There were big statues, each representing different figures. They were all lined up and lit up in the dark.

I can’t tell you much about the temple, as I didn’t actually get inside, but I can tell you that one thing I didn’t expect was to see the Nazi Cross on them. Then again, of course, that wasn’t it.

The Swastika, or in German the Hakenkreuz, is a symbol that can be found in many ancient civilization around the world. Prior to WWII, the Swastika was sometimes used as a good luck charm. All this, before it became the symbol of fascism when the Nazi Party made it its symbol.

It remains widely used in Indian religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism.

Fish Dinner by the Water

Another one of my stops was a small fish restaurant that was recommended to me by the owner of my hostel. My driver for the night took me there and served as my interpreter and as, he liked to put it, my security. However, I should clarify that I never felt like there was any risks in being there.

The place reminded me of a few places I had been to in the Philippines. The fish was delicious and so fresh. I ordered a bit to much food, but it was really excellent. Among the best fish I have ever ate.

I don’t remember the name of the place, but it should be easy to find. Around the Sim Sim village, there are two restaurants: the tourist one and the local one. Pick whichever one you want, but I really liked the one I went to, that is to say the local one.

Places that I didn’t get to see, but had hoped to visit: The English Tea House and Agnes Keith House.

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