Situated in a bay in the Sulu Sea on the north-east coast of Sabah and newly rebuilt after suffering extensive war damage, Sandakan is Malaysia's biggest fishing port - a bustle of markets selling sarongs, spices and rice cakes, together with hotels and businesses catering for the mix of Malays, Filipinos and Indonesians who live or trade here.
Although traditional fishing methods are now in decline, a glimpse of how things used to be can be seen at a number of interesting fishing villages on the outskirts of Sandakan, where the houses are built on stilts over the sea.
The city also still remembers the sad events that it witnessed during the Second World War: it was from here that Allied prisoners of war were sent on what have come to be known as the Sandakan Death Marches, during which several thousand soldiers died. A war memorial in the city commemorates them.
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