Welcome to Sandakan
Looking out across the teal-blue Bay of Sandakan, dotted with fishing trawlers, to distant isles, it's easy to visualise the remarkable past of the former capital of British Borneo, with its exotic cast of foreign interests – German traders, Dutch and Chinese planters, Arab and Indian traders, and pearl divers. Sadly it was razed to the ground during WWII by the British in an attempt to shake off the grip of the invading Japanese. After the war a roaring timber trade blossomed here, with wood from Borneo exported all over the world. Today this little city is buzzing again with the success of the palm-oil industry and the busy, compact city centre retains little of its former colonial romance.
As well as being a gateway to the Sungai Kinabatangan and Sepilok, Sabah's second city is dotted with religious relics, colonial mansions and haunting mementoes of WWII.