HONOUR THE DEAD
Pay your respects to those who fought for our freedom at the War Memorial. Join the ceremony for Remembrance Day on the closest Sunday to November 11 every year and, if you have a connection (especially to those POWs who died in the infamous Sandakan Death March), you can find name plaques and unmarked graves here honouring their lives and losses. More information can be found in the compact, but comprehensive and logically laid out, Labuan Museum. Best of all though, would be to hire resident expert, Willie Teo, (who is not only a walking history book but a key organizer of the Remembrance Day ceremony) to tour you around the key sights on the island.
Play a round of golf on the picturesque nine hole course, or roll up some lawn bowls on the undercover synthetic greens at the Lawn Bowl Arena. Watersport fun can be organized at the Labuan International Sea Sports Complex or locate one of the local tour operators to arrange dives around one of four shipwrecks found off the island.
Take a stroll through the beautiful (and free) Botanical Gardens
Get spectacular sunset shots from the nine kilometre stretch of the award winning UN 08 Beach (named for its 2008 UN award for cleanliness). Explore the Marine Park with a boat ride, some snorkeling or chill time on the beach.
Throw in a line and hope for a bite in the near 98 hectares of Mangrove Forest Heritage Reserve - soon also to be featuring a restaurant and bird watching deck.
A market offering fresh and cooked food, used and new clothing, plants and odds and ends, is held on Labuan walk underneath shady the trees every weekend. Best to arrive early to mid morning for the coolest weather and best produce. Duty free liquor. Say no more.
The Chinese Eight Deity Temple is also known as the Ban San Miao Chinese Temple and is the only one I’ve visited where both Heaven and Hell are graphically depicted. Take the elevator to the third floor and you’ll be greeted with a light bright setting with views of greenery and grand scenes in gold. Follow the dark passage downstairs and you’ll encounter the Hell hall, where walls illustrate sinners in torture chambers being battered and abused or burned in cauldrons of fire.
Anjung Ketam is the known as the island’s value restaurant for delicious local seafood. Caught daily, the freshest of crabs from both the deep sea and island mangroves are prepared Malay style. Don’t miss the Buttermilk Mangrove Crab and Salted Egg Prawns.
Like a tall milky goddess towering between the city and the sea, the Grand Dorsett Labuan, is well kept and freshly painted a clean white. The bright blue skies and intensely green tropical gardens surrounding the structure pledge a noticeable contrast, while the upmarket vehicles lining the entrance give a hint that this hotel is 5 Star. Grand Dorsett Labuan, Malaysia
The revitalized business district of Labuan is the Grand Dorsett’s home and the marina, museums, shopping and eateries are only a short stroll away. An easy quarter hour drive from the airport or ten minute walk from the ferry terminal, mean that once you’ve arrived to the island, the hotel in reachable in mere minutes. Popular amongst business travelers for its strategic location, business facilities and internet access across the entire hotel, vacationing families or couples too should find the Grand Dorsett a comfortable stay. If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know I’m a big advocate of club lounges. On most occasions I’ll sign up (or attempt to wiggle my way to an upgrade). I like the uncomplicatedness of having tea and coffee available all day, a pleasant reasonably trafficless area from which to work and, of course, the cocktail hour (free flow wine and small bites during sunset). Grand Dorsett is not a huge hotel and we stayed over a weekend (their least busy time) so we found ourselves with the lounge (and wine and food) to ourselves most evenings. A club room also brings you some of the best views in the house. Located on the top floor you proffer from unobstructed panoramas of the harbour with glimpses of sunrise in the morning to the left and golden sunsets to the right in the evenings. Upon sundown, the ships in dock light up, creating another spectacle worthy of some viewing time, in the form of a floating city on the island’s edge. Grand Dorsett Labuan, Malaysia
Rooms are comfortable and large with all of the amenities you’d expect from a hotel of this