Sandakan’s beauty and atrocity

“Sandakan” has an exotic and romantic ring to it. On the east coast of Sabah, close to Turtle Islands, marine parks and idyllic tropical beaches, it’s a fascinating place for any tourist to stop for a few days.

After the storms of Turtle Islands, it was a relief for some of the rally boats to get back close to a town. Roy of “Chasca” had jury-rigged a fuel system to bypass his engine’s clogged filters which got him all the way to Sandakan. In this episode we talk about what he had to do to get his sailboat back on track.

We wandered through the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and, with hardly any tourists around, were lucky to get up close to those extraordinary human-like creatures. The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre is a fantastic place to go down to the woods to see the “smallest bear in the world”. And we also went back in time, to pre-war colonial living at Agnes Keith’s House.

But the experience which overwhelmed us (and still brings us to tears) was learning about the Borneo Death Marches at The Sandakan Memorial Park. Approximately 2400 Australian and British prisoners of war were either worked to death at the POW camp or killed in the march across Sabah. Untold numbers of local people lost their lives as slave labour for the Japanese military and many died fighting in the resistance alongside their western allies.

Thank you for your fantastic support and for encouraging our travel story-telling.

Lest we forget.

Liz and Jamie xx


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2 Comments on “Sandakan’s beauty and atrocity”

  1. The Japanese were fierce. My mother was born in Burma and fled with her sisters and brothers to evade the Japanese through the jungles to India. She was 7 at the time and they lost my Grandmother to septicemia on the way.

    1. Oh no, your poor little mum, I’m glad she survived but saddened to learn she lost her mum on the way. Thank you for sharing part of your family story here. I just hope that by remembering the tragedy and inhumanity we can learn compassion in the future. x

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