Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Brekky 071206

3rd and final day in Sandakan and it is drizzling all morning. We are catching a late afternoon plane back to KL, and have the whole morning to kill.

And a thoughtful parking attendant puts her parking notice in waterproof plastic. The local council seems to hire just ladies for the parking department.

We decide to try some local breakfast at a place across the road from the naval base, and it is an uninspiring one. This lame local yellow rice is no saviour, and I'm sorry to say, Sandakan ranks pretty poorly on the good food scale.

But I catch up with some macho navy men, all hailing from the peninsula. A 5-year tour of duty at this outpost, and one can get burnt out. And I thot navy folks only wore those squeaky white costumes!

Then I go for a spot of Christmas window-shopping ... well, sidewalk-shopping. I'm half-expecting Santa and Rudolf to pop out. :-)

The Blocks 071206

One thing I notice about Sandakan are the many apartment blocks.

Not too tall ...

... but most look aged and could do with a bit of make-up.

Which is interesting for this town of some 350,000 people, second most populous spot after Kota Kinabalu, and ahead of 3rd-place Tawau.

The Downtown 071206

A major landmark of downtown Sandakan is the imposing yellow Majlis Perbandaran Sandakan building.

Downtown also has a host of old buildings, such as this HSBC Bank - been here since 1948. There is also an old Standard Chartered Bank. Both attest to the rich trading history of Sandakan.

Another old building, this one belongs to Harrisons Trading.

No more wharf in Sandakan, but here's a nostalgic reminder.

And of course, the old mosque, more than 100 years old, perched on the woody hill-side overlooking the town.

The Streets 071206

One thing that impresses me is the grid-like design of the streets. It makes exploration by foot that much enjoyable. Maybe the town fathers re-did the street layout when rebuilding the razed town after the war, just like Hiroshima after the A-Bomb demolition job.

Though some parts look a bit unkempt.

The tall buildings seem to be named after some rich dudes, most likely timber tycoons, since Sandakan was built on timber. I read even the Forbidden City in Beijing used wood from Sandakan. But, alas, now no more, but sustainable eco-tourism could be a worthy replacement.

The main avenue passes through the northern edge of downtown ...

... and becomes Jalan Buli Sim Sim, now a new 4-lane dual carriageway which skirts the water's edge where the water villages are.

The Docs 071206

As I wander along a passageway, a clinic signage attracts me.

A Newcastle-trained doc opens a practice here, and a specialist too.

I walk up the dank stairwell, and discover that Dr Wong is an ENT guy. My facial orifices all in order, I retreat.

Not far from Dr Wong's, Dublin-trained dermatologist Dr Chung sets up shop. It's interesting that these foreign-trained professionals decide to settle in Sandakan rather than settling down in Europe or somewhere else, which is definitely a great thing.

And of course, the inevitable reverse flow of (less-pricey) human capital. Pls click image for better view.

The Airport 071206

All good things must come to an end, even more so for great things. We head for the airport and bump into an old mate.

We duly check in at the AirAsia counter, but hey, what's this obscure airlines doing next door?

The kids kill the time with a mini Sudoku competition, and young Aina (in cap) comes out tops.

I peer at the runway through the glass pane, and rather than spotting planes, I spot houses just on the other side of the runway. I must say, living there must be a plane-spotter's heaven. He can spot from the bedroom, kitchen, even from a strategically-placed loo! Noise? What noise?

We depart SDK at 8.15pm, 3 hours late (we were informed about this delay by SMS while we were still at the hotel), and arrive home well after midnight. Our plane, an old-ish Boeing 737-300 reg. 9M-AAH, had earlier in the day done KL-Tawau and developed technical fault while in Tawau. Flew back to KL, before the afternoon trip to Sandakan. Two long KL-Sabah return trips in one day, probably a tad too much for this hard-working little plane!

THE END and back to HOMEPAGE