Sabah Road Trip Day 3 – Sandakan

Today we make our way from Kundasang to Sandakan, and then after that, to Semporna the next day. According to Joseph, mentioned in the Kundasang post, this used to be a very dangerous drive. As you cut through plantations, don’t stop for any reason, he says.

If you need to pee, don’t stop. Hold it in until you reach the next village. Even your tyre punctures, don’t stop, keep going until the next village. If you stop, you’re dead.

He said that in the past, there were many cases where Filipinos would emerge from the plantations to kill people who stopped by the roadside. Sometimes these were even victims of their traps that punctured the tyres of cars passing by.

I’m not sure if this is the case anymore, but Joseph says he dares not drive from Sandals to Semporna. We actually did about one third of this ride after sunset, but that is for the next day’s post.

Today’s post is about potholes. The road from Kundasang to Sandakan is full of heavy vehicles like these:

Which end up causing a lot of potholes on the roads:

After a while Baby Crab got bored of looking at potholes on the road and started to look at teddy bears in the sky.

And funny town names such as Gum Gum.

If Baby Crab finds Gum Gum hilarious, I probably shouldn’t tell her about Bum Bum Island.

Then there’s interesting things in the middle of roundabouts.


Pitcher plants

When we finally reached Sandakan, after checking into a hotel, our first stop was the Sandakan Central Market.

It’s a large 3-storey market that sells vegetables and meat on the ground floor, dried goods and clothes on the first floor, and cooked food on the second floor.

Vegetables of all kinds for sale

Meats too. We were there quite late in the afternoon so we didn’t see too much.

What caught our attention were the many shops selling many tins of epoxy adhesive.

Who has so many things that they need to glue together?? That was when we started to suspect that the glue had uses other than joining things together.

EDIT: We later learned that this glue really is for sticking things together. The boatmen use it for their boats. The glue that has other uses is the yellow one that is used for shoes.

We got some rice wine and joy bing from this nice auntie here. Auntie was shocked when we said we’d buy her whole container of jiu bing.

It is only when you venture up to the first or second floor that you get to see a sight you can barely see when on the ground floor.

You get to see the fishing boats come in and unloading their haul into trucks packed with ice.

Sometimes the boats come back with so many fish that they have run out of storage space and just litter the deck.

Some of these fish are immediately sold at Central Market.

After Central Market, we headed over to the Padang Bandaran Sandakan. It’s a large field where all kinds of secondhand clothes, bags, and shoes are sold. None of it interested us except this:

The kids’ ride was made of metal oil drums and a plastic chair put inside. Very original!

Sandakan is known for shops closing very early in town, except for a new Harbour Mall shopping mall. But what the websites and reviews don’t tell you is the 24-hour food centre on the outskirts of Sandakan.

It’s also surrounded by cafes and restaurants, and a rather atas supermarket.

It’s a little dark. The words read Pasar Bandaran Kim Fung.

If this isn’t to your liking, there is actually another pasar malam in town. When we passed it earlier, there were only a few shops open. The sky was already getting dark, and the stalls had no lights. So we wrote it off.

It was only when we came back later did we realise how wrong we were. We were already full, and we couldn’t eat any of this:

Cheap, fresh, and delicious. At least we think so because we didn’t have a chance to eat it.

That’s the end of Day 3.

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