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Located at the foothill of Mt.Kinabalu, and just a short distance from the Kundasang food and vegetable market, lies this mysterious fort called the Kundansang War Memorial. Kundasang is a small town on the edge of the Mt. Kinabalu National Park, about 70km from Kota Kinabalu City. Because of its temperate climate, Kundasang is famous for its vegetables, and there are numerous resorts and lodges that dot around the hill slopes. These resorts and lodges are great for holiday getaway and most of them command a great view of Mt. Kinabalu.
From the outside, the Kundasang War Memorial is just a dead stony fort structure, it is what lies inside the fort that keeps this place alive and draw visitors to this place. The War Memorial was built in the 1950s in memory of a tragic events during world war 2, which was called the Death March. This site was chosen as here, in the shadow of Mt. Kinabalu, many of the prisoners of war perished, and according to local custom, the cloud enshrouded mount harbours the souls of all those who have died.
The Death March was about some two thousand of Australians and British civilians caught by the Japanese Army and were force to march from Sandakan to Ranau. A 265km walk through the virgin jungle of Borneo. Many of the Australians and British civilian died in this treacherous journey. Many natives of Sabah risk their lives to help the prisoners of war, and many got killed in trying.
The known deaths numbers 1,800 Australian and 600 British, most of them were young men in their twenty. Only six Australians survived to tell the ordeal they endured, and there was no British survivors from the Death March. There an Information Centre here that keeps all the mementos and some individual accounts about the Death March.
For years the Kundasang War Memorial has been in shabby shape. Many parts of the fort were in tatter, and visiting this War Memorial can be an unpleasant experience. On 2005, to commemorate the 60 Anniversary of the end of WW2, the fort was restored and the garden was replanted. The Kundasang War Memorial is open to all visitors with a small entrance fee.
The gardens, within the walls of the Kundasang War Memorial, namely the Australian Garden, English Garden and the Borneo Garden, are the heart beat of the fort. Plants, ferns, and grass turf fill the Australia garden, and the English Garden is surrounded by roses, that come in all shades of colour. While wild orchids and rare exotic orchids are the main features at the Borneo Garden.
On the highest level of the Kundasang War Memorial there is this lovely pergolas setting with a pond in the middle. All the names of the prisoners of war from the Australian and British can be found here. This is also a popular venue for local married couples to have their pictures taken, using the beautiful pergolas as a backdrop.
On a clear day, the view from the top level of the War Memorial, looking out toward Mt. Kinabalu is just simply breathtaking. Mt. Kinabalu looks so majestic and huge from this angle. Most of the peaks can be seen clearly too, and a great place for taking photographs.
This visit ends with Mr. Nelson Short departing words.