Sandakan, Borneo, Malaysia

We decided to take a bus from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan. 319km took us 7 hours instead of 5. The ticket costs MR48.

On the way we enjoyed European techno music from early ’90s and karate movies including:

The views are spectacular. The road meanders between high mountains and you can admire valleys covered with forests. The slopes are strengthened with concrete to avoid stone avalanches which might make the journey less picturesque at times. We got to Sandakan after dark and took a taxi from bus station to the hostel we picked from our guide (MR20). Our taxi driver was quite unusual. He told us that the government tells taxi drivers to describe their village to foreigners. “Village” is the word he used. He showed us the hospital where he was born, where the English Tea House is, Catholic Church and day market. He also told us about Orangutan Sanctuary and Discovery Center.

Sandakan BackpackersWe got out in front of Sea View Hostel but we didn’t like it all that much. After short search for a place to stay we ended up in Borneo Sandakan Backpackers.  There we got picked up by Raf (Rafael) from Switzerland. He recommended this Irish place to us called Shamrock Cafe. Hahahhaa if we were expecting Guinness we were totally disappointed. Typical Malaysian beanery. We joined a merry company already enjoying cold beer on the side walk and had a great night out.

One of the people we met was Jonathan who turned out to be a Manager of the hostel we were staying in. The other Mao a tourist guide and Jonathan’s friend. We had a really nice evening discussing culture, tourism and life while drinking cold beer. A bucket of beer (4 bottles) was MR27 and 2 large ones MR36.

Shamrock restaurant Sandakan Borneo

Even though Malaysia is a Muslim country the Sharia law includes only the followers of Allah. Muslims have their own police. It turns out that for a wife you need to pay MR1000, the better educated the higher the price. A woman with higher diploma “costs” MR20,000. A child can only get an ID if parents are married and a wedding costs between MR40,000 and MR80,000.

There is no such a thing as Malaysian cuisine. It’s a mountain country and hasn’t develop it’s own cuisine. The food available is a mixture of Chinese, Thai and Hindu dishes. The best dishes they could recommend us was sea food and Satay.

Best satay in Sandakan

Jonathan recommended the best satay in town to us. The picture above shows the place where it’s done. We were the only foreigners there. I can’t unfortunately say I liked it more than the ones I tried in Thailand. The main attraction in Sandakan was Orangutan Sanctuary. It turned out to be a day trip.  Other than that we just walked around the city, visited market and enjoyed the sun set in the harbor. Just to warn you the food there is not great and it’s very expensive. One of the dishes that got my attention was hot pot. Looked really good but was mild not to say tasteless and I.’s lemon chicken dish had 3 pieces of chicken in it. So do go there to enjoy the view but not for the food.


Next post on Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre but for now some more pictures of Sandakan.

Promenade in Sandakan

Patrol Sandakan

Red Horse beer

Soup Sandakan

My favorite dish in Sandakan, Borneo
My favorite dish in Sandakan, Borneo
A. favorite car in Sandakan ;)
A.’s favorite car in Sandakan 😉
Sandakan city center
Sandakan city center

Badmington real feather aileron

Doctor educated in Ireland/UK
Doctor educated in Ireland/UK
One of 2 restaurants which I can recommend in Sandakan
One of 2 restaurants which I can recommend in Sandakan
Second of 2 restaurants I can recommend in Sandakan
Second of 2 restaurants I can recommend in Sandakan


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Food Market, Kota Kinabalu, Borneo Malaysia

Just next to the harbor in Kota Kinabalu there is a huge market. Part of it is located in concrete building with stalls full of souvenirs, clothes, bags, scarfs, shoes, jewellery, drums and many many more. Next to it there is an open air food market with fish, meat, fruit and veg. You can also sit down and have something to eat and drink. Have a look yourselves.

Food Market at sun set Kota Kinabalu Borneo MalaysiaFood Market Kota Kinabalu Borneo Malaysia

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The best duck ever! Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

This is the place where we had the best duck I ever had in my life! Ti’s an opinion shared by all the members of our group. Everyday since we discovered this place we had at least one meal there. It had recently been opened and didn’t even have printed menu!

You could see how they chopped the duck with your own eyes and every time it was perfect! Crispy skin, layer of fat and then soft and juicy meat. Heaven!

Last day of our stay we went there for breakfast. A. ordered the whole duck with the waiter on our way to the table. We were still considering if we want noodles or soup before ordering. The waiter was going from one table to the other but avoided ours somehow. Finally we called him and asked for another dish. He seemed in a hurry and didn’t take the order from the other 2 people from our group. This seemed quite strange. So we called him 2nd time and ordered two more dishes. He didn’t seem to understand. And finally it turned out he couldn’t believe the whole duck was for one person! He thought A. ordered for all of us! Greedy Europeans!

Ming Ge cafe is located at Jalan Pantai, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Business hours from 7am to 2pm so don’t sleep in too long 😉

Business Hours: Daily 7am-2pm
Jalan Pantai
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Pulau Gaya Water Village – Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia

Just off the shore of Kota Kinabalu we visited a village build on water. This was on the way to Pulau Sapi, our guide/motorboat driver needed to deliver some gas and collect tools what gave us an opportunity to see a glimpse of life over the water.

The homes in the water village are made of wood and bamboo. There is a labyrinth of wooden pathways/bridges called  jambatan connecting each household with others. What stroke me the most is that even in conditions which seem very provisional for us Europeans people make effort to decorate their surroundings. Let it be drapery in windows, a bit of color on walls or proper plaster. We recognized some of the houses as shops or workshops. There also seemed to be a lot more children there than in the city. They were playing in the water, running around and waving at us. It’s funny how people can use any material available to build shelter which then becomes home. To survive we really don’t need all that much. How has it happened that life became not about survival but about collecting stuff.

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