Afternoon Tea and Evening Rainforest Adventures

One of the first stops on our overnight tour of Sandakan was the village market. The market, which is known for its fresh fish, was bustling with people shopping. There was also a large display of dried seafood which we smelled before we saw it.

We ended our tour with a visit to the English Tea Room and the Agnes Keith House. These were located in the hills above town and we could see The World at a distance. The Tea House was reminiscent of a colonial-style house from the 1930s and music from that era was wafting from the speakers. We were served tea or coffee and there was a small buffet of scones and clotted cream, finger sandwiches and a type of Malaysian pasta with a curry sauce, all very good.

When we were finished we walked a short distance to the Agnes Keith House. She was an American writer who lived in Borneo with her husband who was with the Land Conservancy. They were here from the mid-30s until both were interned during World War II. She wrote several books but the most famous three chronicled her life here at “Newlands” and life during and after the war. The original timber house was destroyed by the Japanese but rebuilt on the same footprint in 1947 and Agnes and Harry lived here until 1952. No pictures were allowed inside but there was lots of dark wood, a very imposing staircase, and artifacts from the era, such as a small typewriter and a Kelvinator refrigerator.

The day was very hot and humid so by the time we returned to the Ship we were both pooped! A quick lunch and then naps since we had another outing late in the afternoon.
At 5:30pm, we departed for the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, located about 30 minutes outside town. The evening’s “Rain Forest Walk” was organized especially for our group. We arrived before dark so we could see a few things and after walking about 1/4 mile we stopped when someone spotted a Rhinoceros Hornbill in the trees. I am going to cheat a little here and use some of our friend Dan’s pictures but will always give him credit.

Dan’s Picture of a Flying Squirrel

The next picture was taken just before sunset when we were watching for the Flying Squirrels. The sounds of the rain forest were almost as magical as watching for wildlife.

It got dark very quickly and we were divided into three groups of about 20, each with a ranger and a guide. Most folks had brought flashlights to shine into the thick canopy and we took my very bright dive light. The majority of the walk was on wooden walkways but at one point they ended and we were in the muck for a while. We had been warned about leeches and while one fellow had purchased “leech socks,” the rest of us got by with tucking our trousers into our socks.  Alas, not one leech appeared.  It was finally deemed too muddy to continue so we returned to the platforms.
The guides and rangers have eagle eyes and spotted lots of things that I still had difficulty seeing even when they were pointed out.
Small Snake

Giant Moth

The last sighting proved to be the most exciting. Someone spotted a Borneo Keeled Pit Viper hanging in a tree. It was a female and quite large.  They also told us these are especially lethal so we were all very happy that she decided to stay in the tree and pose.
Dan’s excellent shot of a viper

Needless to say, it was very hot and humid in the forest where there was not a breath of air. It seemed we had been in there forever, but as we walked out I was surprised that it was less than 2 hours. Traffic was light as we returned to the Ship and we enjoyed In Room Dining before calling it a night.

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