Anyway, my legs looking like my mate Dave Love’s wart riddled knob and we were off – Bus 14 to The Rain Forest Discovery centre. Now, the basic unwritten rule for Mosquito’s is that they leave us alone during the day – A kind of respite. Remind us that actually humans are at the top of the food chain. Well, Mozzies in Sandakan don’t subscribe to that rule. I’m telling you, I saw one – He had a ninja head band on. We walked to the centre (about 1km from the road where the bus ditched us) and when we got there my legs were (as Abi says) “proper munched’ed” The centre doesn’t sell repellant, nor does it sell water or in fact anything other than entrance tickets. So we walked to Sepilok which is about 3km, now on that walk the following
conversation took place, M = me, C = Charlie:
C = I’ve been bitten, am knackered and am thirsty.
M = Charlie, I am knackered, thirsty and every time I get bitten the Mozzy gets on his mobile phone to his mates and calls them round for a party.
C = Eh – How does it know your name.
…Blame his mother.
Again it was 40+ degrees. Once arriving at Sepilok I found out they didn’t sell repellent, but I spotted some on a window, I was told someone had left it at the café. So I asked could I use it and was told sorry. I showed my leg and it was given to me instantly.
We stayed and had lunch and then got a taxi back to the discovery centre which cost 10RM – Once in the taxi I realized the rate was supposed to be 1RM per KM. When I questioned this amazingly the English language had completely left the drivers head.
We started by walking around the Plant Discovery Centre, which was great. I had managed to convince the kids that chocolate grew on the cocoa tree, and that cups of coffee grew on the coffee tree. There was just about every plant you could imagine, all split up into groups such as economical plants, medicinal plants etc..
After that we walked into the rain forest. It was amazing. The last time I had seen a rainforest and actually sat and thought about what it was during the 80’s when the huge tree craze was going on. If you don’t remember, basically kids at school were told that within a few years the trees would all be chopped down and there would be no oxygen. Of course it was a lie or a fad. There are squillions of trees even now! We went on the tree top walkway which is as it sounds, a walk way 30m above the trees so you can really walk above and amongst the canopy. We went on snidey Indian Jones style rope bridges which had Abi absolutely terrified.
We walked back to the main road and the bus came within minutes. In Borneo when you want a bus, stops are pretty obsolete; you simply put out your hand and the bus stops for you, wherever you are.
Our next stop was the Sandakan War Memorial.
Basically back in 1945 the Japanese occupied Borneo, they had a 1000 Australian and British Soldiers captured. They were in Sandakan as POW’s. The Japanese were getting increasingly paranoid about an allied invasion in Borneo and so decided they would head inland. The 1000 soldiers were to be used as carriers of all the equipment. Starving, in ill health and at deaths door the POW’s were taken on what would become known as the Death March. It was a long march into the jungle – approx 250km. along the way many died. By the time their destination was reached all were dead. Every soldier except for 6 who had escaped was dead. This was the same month the war ended in 1945.
Whilst the soldiers were POW’s in Sandakan the local people despite death threats helped the soldiers.
After the war a mission to Borneo known as the ‘reward mission’ commenced. The British government grateful for the help the locals had given the British sent people to Borneo to reward the locals.
The memorial was set up to remember every soldier who died on that fateful march.
Afterwards we headed for the main road in the hope a bus wouldn’t be far off. A car pulls up with a man and his wife in. “Are you going to Sandakan friend” I told him we were, “Jump in” And that was that.
The end of two amazing days in the Rain Forests of Borneo.
Next stop Kota Kinabalu then Singapore…