A visit to Agnes Keith House is, for many people, one of the highlights of any trip to Sandakan.
Agnes Newton Keith lived in Sabah, Borneo from 1934 until after World War Two. She was accompanying her husband Harry Keith who was Conservator of Forests. Not being the sort to confine herself to wifely duties she accompanied her husband on some of his up-country trips and recorded her experiences of life in Sabah in her famous and beautifully written, three-part autobiography, The Land Below The Wind, Three Came Home and White Man Returns. She described her house with the finest view in Borneo, the primitive plumbing, their devoted but erratic domestic staff and her day-to-day adventures. She wrote with humour and affection for the Borneo people and her love of animals and illustrated her books with amusing pen-and-ink sketches. The Sabah she described has moved on with the times but any resident of the State today would still identify with her experiences.
If you have not yet read these charming books you can find them on sale all over Sandakan.
The house plays a big role in her tales. The original house was destroyed during the War but was one of the first permanent timber structures to be rebuilt in 1947. After some time in disrepair, the Sabah Museum Department began restoring it in 2001 and it was opened as a museum in 2004. It has been furnished with reproduction furniture of the period as well with antiques and the type of items which would have been in the house during Agnes’ time.
A fascinating place to visit for anyone who is familiar with her books.
Open daily from 9.00 am to 5.00pm.
Malaysians - RM2.00
Free for kids under 12.
Free entry available for Malaysian students, seniors and disabled.
I have marked the exact location on the map on my Sandakan Heritage Trail page. I walked to the museum from the town centre as part of my heritage trail but it is uphill and rather sweaty so you might prefer to get a bus (50 sen one way) or a taxi (RM 5 one way).
Agnes Keith House
Tel: (+60) 089– 221140
Official Website: Click Here
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