Hidden away at a little corner of Sandakan, and perched on top of a small hill that is surrounded by tropical forests, Panganakan Dii Tropical Retreat is a place where guests will find peace and tranquility. Since its opening on 1st July, 2008, many of its guests have found that this is a wonderful place to spend a night or two. This is where guests can wake up to the nature's habitat. In the morning, it is common for one to hear the birds chirping away, or listen to the constant humming of the insects, or be surprised by the mysterious noise from the forests which isoften caused by the naughty monkeys chasing one another up in the trees. Although the squirrels don't really mixed with humans, these cute little animals are often sighted on the tree branches while they go searching for food after day break.
The accommodation is a small to mid-scale venture that consists of fourteen duplexes and three long house style dormitories. Visitors will find that the prices for the accommodation are reasonable and affordable. One of the most asked question is what does "Panganakan Dii" mean. The friendly manager will reply "These two words come from the Kadazan Dusun language which simple mean the family that stays together".
Recycled, reused and redefined materials are in the heart of the management of this tropical retreat house. Thrown away electrical wire drums were converted to dining tables. Used cartoons were reconditioned to become small stools. While the old coconut shells and bamboos were combined to design a unique ash tray. Instead of concrete material, thick tree trunks were laid as pavements. At the dormitories and duplexes one will see that the black iron woks were remade as wash-basins. Even tree twigs can be made useful by turning them into tissue holders. Guests can certainly learn a thing or two about reusing waste materials in a creative way from this wonderful place. Environment is a big concern this day. If every one is willing to play just a small part, collectively there will be a huge impact on the globe.
The duplexes, which can accommodate up to four persons, are divided into the old and new sections. The interior of these duplexes are identical. The only difference is that the new duplexes were built on the lower slope and has a better view of the valley below. Upon entering the duplex, a look at the clean shinning white bed linens on the queen bed and the bunk bed will comfort the guests that they can enjoy a comfortable sleep. Pillows are provided as usual but guests get an extra comfort by having duvets too. A mosquito net is dangled on top of the queen bed, which has little used when the air-conditioner is switched on. While the bed linens are shinning white, the rest of the room including the furnitures, the wall and the ceiling are of nature-colours of woods, which range from light brown to dark chocolate. The wall on the front side of the duplex can also be opened, which allows guests to get more intimate with nature.
The spacious attached bathroom is also worth a mention. This wash room can easily be divided into three sections, with the toilet seat on one side, the wash basin in the middle and the shower just beside the outer wall. Most wash rooms today are often enclosed, but here at the Paganakan Dii chalets one part of the wall is opened to nature, which is the wall beside the shower. It is only partially covered by a sheet of black sun shade netting. As the trees and plants are just next to this somewhat exposed wall, one can't help feeling that one is having a shower outside with nature. While cool shower works fine in the day, one would certainly prefer a hot shower at night or on a raining day. A small balcony is situated at the back of the duplex. Here guests can sit down and absorb the green scenery below.
Take a leaf from the history book of the Murut and the Rungus tribes in Sabah, who have been living in their long houses with big families for centuries. Here the longhouse is a dormitory which is built on stilts with the living area on the first floor. The dormitory which is rather spacious has six bunk beds and can sleep twelve persons. Apart from fans, it is aided with good architectural design of high ceiling, and the walls are made with mosquito netting and wooden planks. All these give super-ventilation to the area. Like the facilities in the duplex the spring mattress here are also covered with shining white bed-linen, pillow and fleece blanket.
Individual bathrooms with hot water shower are located on the ground floor. One would find the wash basins rather interesting, and they are located just under the staircase. For relaxation and leisure a few of the hanging rattan swinging chairs and rattan hammock on the lower level can also be used..
|Duplex (New)||8||RM 150.00 (2 persons)|
|RM 174.00 (3 persons)|
|RM 192.00 (4 persons)|
|Duplex (Old)||6||RM 130.00 (2 persons)|
|RM 150.00 (3 persons)|
|RM 168.00 (4 persons)|
|Dormitory||36 beds||RM 30.00 per person|
All prices include breakfast.
Check out time 12:00 pm.
A 7.62 metres (25 feet) long deck is located at a strategic place of the hill, which has a commanding view over the valley below. The deck has four long wooden chairs, and they are spaced out evenly on the deck. A few bamboo trees are planted around the deck. Although the bamboo leaves do not provide much of a shade, but they do give guests a wonderful view when looking up to the sky. The best time to be here is during the late afternoon when the weather is not so hot. Here guests can lie down on the chairs and enjoy the green scenery which are made up of trees and plants from the distant hill and the oil palm trees below. Guests can read a book or just laze away.
Cafeteria, Common Room and The Hall
The cafeteria, which is a split level building, is the centre for many things. Its open concept with minimal walls looks very inviting indeed. Once inside the building one can't help but be immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of the surrounding forests. The reception office is also located here. This is where you will meet the friendly receptionist called Jus. He will see to every thing the guests need. Beverage and food, beers, soft drinks, coffee and tea are all available at the cafeteria anytime of the day. While foods are served only at certain hours of the day during breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast is very western, where omelette, sausage and toast are served. Guests can choose either tea or coffee to go with the food. Lunch and dinner come with more varieties that contain local and western cuisine. Guests would have to order their food early to ensure a good dinner later. At night the soft yellow lights at the cafeteria create a relaxing atmosphere, where guests can mingle around and chat till bed time.
On the first floor of the cafeteria is the common room. The main building structure here is the wooden floor, the pillars and the ceiling. There are no walls on three sides except the toilet and the store room at the end. This spacious common room has a few tea tables and many cushions lying on the floor. The cushions also light up the place as they come in many patterns and colours. Many people can fit into this open space. Guests can also relax here or spend their times chatting with friends on their adventures and their travelling plans. When the place is less crowded it is also a good area to lie down to take out the novels and read away.
For activities or functions the hall provides a suitable place for these undertakings. Located just behind the cafeteria, the hall with a length of 9 metres (30 feet) can accommodate a sizable number of participants. Foldable chairs are available, or people can just sit on the floor of real wood. The hall has air-conditioner which gives much comfort in this hot tropical climate. For leisure guests can watch television which comes with Astro multiple channel services. The hall is open from 8:00 am to 12 mid-night. Paganakan Dii is truly a wonderful place if one likes to feel intimate and relax with nature.
One of Sandakan most popular tourist destinations is the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Everyday the place attracts hundreds of visitors. While a few accommodations are located near the centre which are within walking distance. Paganakan Dii is about 8 km away from the centre, making it a bit too far to walk. To make up for this, Paganakan Dii provides free transport services to the centre for its guests. The times are at 9:00 am and 2:00 pm which are scheduled to coincide with the daily feeding times. The last service back from the centre is at 4:00 pm.
The affordable dormitory at the long house also allows one to spend a few more days here. This is indeed a great place to relax and unwind. At the same time stay away from the hustles and bustles of city life.
Nearby interesting destinations:
Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
Rainforest Discovery Centre
Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary
Agnes Keith House
Sandakan Memorial Park
How to go there? For the self-drive: take the North Road from Sandakan town and drive towards the direction that goes out from the town centre. North Road will eventually join into the Labuk road, and at mile 14, one would have to make a right turn at the Orangutan roundabout. From here there are enough signboards to guide one to Panganakan Dii which is less then 4 KM away. Chartered taxi it will cost about RM 50.00 for a ride to Panganakan Dii from Sandakan. Bus is the cheaper option which costs only RM 3.00 one way. The Labuk road bus will stop at the main road at Mile 14 . There is a shop at the main road where guests can call the retreat house for only 50 sen. Panganakan Dii will gladly send someone to pick you up for free. Yus, the receptionist, can also help to arrange private taxi to Sandakan town and airport which takes 35 minutes and cost RM 35.00 one way.
Mile 14, Jalan Labuk,
Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia.
tel: +6089 532 005
mobile: +6017 894 57 37 (Rose)
Panganakan Dii Tropical Retreat photo gallery:
Recycle and Reuse
The cafeteria and some of the dishes during dinner