After the long walks at Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary and Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, Borneon Sun Bear Conservation Centre and Rainforest Discovery Centre at Sepilok, Sandakan, why not take a breather by visiting Sandakan Orchid House, the Crocodile Farm and Agop Batu Tulug Museum?
Sandakan Orchid House
Sandakan Orchid House has a collection of rare orchids and is a must-see for green-fingered enthusiasts. Moreover, you could also buy some orchid species to take home.
And if you want to see reptiles, along the Labuk Road from Sandakan is a crocodile farm, which is home to about 1,000 crocodiles of various sizes.
Agop Batu Tulug Museum
Next, drop by Agop Batu Tulug Museum in which lies the mysterious Agop Sawat and Agop Lintaga. Notwithstanding its eerie atmosphere, it is a fantastic place to test your stamina, leg muscle-strength and ascertain whether you have a fear of heights, dark caves and coffins.😅 If I were living in Sandakan and planning to conquer Mount Kinabalu, I would start my training on the steps adorning Agop Batu Tulug caves.
Situated in Batu Puteh Village, about 80km from Sandakan town and 41km from Kota Kinabatangan town ship, is the Agop Batu Tulug Museum. It stands on an isolated steep limestone cliff that reaches about 40 metres in height and part of the Labang limestone which was formed about 20-25 million years ago.
About 500 to 900 years ago, it was used as an ancient log coffin burial site.
‘Agop’ means ‘cave’ in the Orang Sungai language.
The drive to Batu Tulug Museum takes about one and a half hours from Sandakan or 45 minutes from Lahad Datu.
You may drive there yourself or go there through a tour operator.
Although there are 3 main caves in Agop Batu Tulug, most of the coffins were in 2 caves. The 2 caves are Agop Lintanga (the middle cave) and Agop Sawat (the upper cave). The latter involves climbing hundreds of steep and quite damp staircases. In my opinion, the hardest part is the walk down the stairs.
As such, better wear climbing shoes for this, unless you plan to fly down the steps like a dare-devil. Make sure your sandals or shoes are equipped for the task. Besides that, your leg muscles must be strong enough to carry you up and down the steep stairs. Especially if there’s no Hercules standing by to carry you down if you get muscle cramps. Once you’ve almost reached the opening to the upper cave, don’t forget to look down – the view is breathtaking, literally! 😀
Agop Sawat and Agop Lintanga
Agop Sawat and Agop Lintanga contain more than 125 ancient log coffins, aged up to 250 years old. Carvings symbolizing different myths and legends of the Kinabatangan people decorate the Belian hardwood coffins.
Discovered in the coffins were remnants such as human bones, gongs, blowpipes and Chinese ceramics.
According to folklore, a wandering hero named Raja Tua Baturong discovered Agop Batu Tulug.
Aside from being a burial site, the locals also use the caves to practice asceticism. Now, doesn’t that fact brings to mind Tan Sri P.Ramlee’s ‘Pendekar Bujang Lapok‘ hilarious scene at the cemetery?
The popular belief is the coffins belong to the Orang Sungai community. Nonetheless, some believe that the caskets contain the remains of Chinese traders who once settled in the area. This is because Chinese artifacts were also found among the remains.
On the way up, there is an information centre with washroom and also resting huts. I find it very necessary for those (like me) who need to take a rest after climbing down the steep staircases.
I must admit, I didn’t think I could climb up the whole thing.
The admission fee for Malaysians is quite cheap, actually.
MyKad holders : RM 2.00 (Adults)
Others : RM15.00
(Students in uniform, children below 12 years, disabled persons and senior citizens enter for free)
Visiting hours : 9am – 5pm
Other places in Sandakan
Wondering where to go next? Here are some ideas: