27th June – Today we had breakfast and checked out of the hotel for an 8.30 start. We headed down to the jetty to take a one hour boat trip to Selingan Island. This island is part of the Turtle Islands Park. It lies in the Sulu Sea some 40 kilometres north of Sandakan. It is very close to the Philippines.
As we headed away from Sandakan we got a view of the mosque and stilt village.
We arrived on the island. It is fairly small with basic accommodation but it was better than we expected.
We had the day to explore the island, swim and snorkel. It was still very hot and humid so Shane and I took the opportunity to do just that.
When we were walking back to our chalet we saw this monitor lizard.
We had dinner at 7.30 and then had to play the waiting game. We were waiting for the signal from the park ranger to proceed to the beach to watch the green sea turtles lay their eggs. You are not allowed on the beach after 6pm. So we hung around the restaurant area and at 10.40pm we heard “turtle turtle”. The rangers first ensure that the turtle is going to lay eggs before calling us and then we have about 20 minutes to watch her lay her legs. On this occasion she laid 73 eggs. The ranger then measures the turtle and checks if it has previously laid eggs. On this occasion it was her first time so they tagged her. These turtles always come back to the island that they were born to lay eggs.
Due to the monitor lizards and rats these eggs are collected by the ranger and put into a safe hatchery area.
In about 8 weeks the babies hatch. They are then released to the ocean. After we watched the eggs being laid we were lucky enough to watch some of the turtles being released it was a wonderful sight. Out of all the turtles that find their way to the ocean only 3% will survive and lay eggs themselves.
By 12.30am we were ready for bed so off we went, having experienced something wonderful in nature.
28th June – On our way to breakfast this morning we walked past the hatchery area and to our surprise during the night some eggs had hatched from 8 weeks ago. There were baby turtles in quite a few nets and their instinct was already there to try and get to the ocean. The ranger came along and collected them ready for release.
We returned to Sandakan today, so at 7am we headed off in the boat for our return one hour trip.
Once we were on land again we had a look around Sandakan. We visited the Sandakan Memorial Park which is located on the site of the Sandakan Prisoner of War camp. We visited the commemorative pavilion. Unfortunately they were redoing the track to the black granite obelisk so we missed that but we learned a lot in the pavilion. It was a profound experience.
We then visited the Puh Jih Shih temple which is located on the hilltop with a commanding view of Sandakan.
We then visited the Sim Sim Water Village, where this settlement was established in 1897. We walked through part of the village and saw the houses on stilts occupied by the local Chinese and Malays.
We then headed to the colonial home now museum of the famous American writer Agnes Keith. She wrote about her experiences during WW2 the book was called “Three Came Home”. We had lunch at the charming English Tea House Restaurant which was a former colonial residence.
Once we had lunch we went back into Sandakan and booked into our hotel for the night. We had a lovely view of Sandakan from our room.
We have now come to the end of our time in Borneo. Tomorrow we will be flying to Kuala Lumpur.