Bright and early I had a last breakfast with the family, and with many smiles took my departure from my gracious hosts. I headed for Sandakan, a port city on the northeast coast, which on Sundays has a very lively street market. I strolled through the market, ate all sorts of rice dumplings, and went for a long walk along the waterfront. Somewhere along there I saw the jetty of the Malaysian coast guard, and was surprised to see the very modern and well armed fast ships, until I remembered that this is one of the main points from which the Malaysian navy is trying to fight piracy in the Sulu Sea.
On the hills over the city there is a large Buddhist temple complex. There were not many people around, so I was able to explore every nook and cranny, and had sweeping views over the port. Very nice.
At about mid-afternoon I headed back west, toward the highlands of Mt. Kinabalu. Tomorrow I will climb it! I spent the night at a hotel near the park entrance, at about 1,300 m altitude, as a first step toward acclimatization.