In case you ever get a chance to visit Borneo, then by all means, fly into Mulu National Park. Air travel in Borneo is cheap. My flight in was $58 CAD. It is a little confusing of course, everything is the first time you do it. When you get off the plane, and walk across the tarmac into the little terminal, there is a little place for you to wait for your checked baggage. Then you can go out the front and there are the vans waiting to take you to the Marriott, or a shuttle for 5R (about $1.75) to take you to the park. It is always a choice, do I stay in the big hotel, or do I go with the park accommodations, or do I look for something else? I chose the park, and I am glad I did. They have choice of hostel or private rooms or entire chalets. Since I am alone, I just decided on a dorm bed for about $18CAD/night. The park chalets are really nice and very clean. You are right here in the park, so after your tour, you do not have to walk anymore or take a bus back to the hotel. There are also some homestay options right outside the gate that are supposed to be quite good too!
We made a slight detour on our direct flight. The plane this morning hadn't been able to fly from Miri to Mulu, so we stopped to pick them up. And, as I found out is common in Malaysia, (surprise, surprise) we had to go through customs, since we had crossed a Malaysian state border. So more stamps for my already overfull passport.
I haven't talked about my passport yet. I noticed after we got back from our impromptu visit to KL and Singapore, that my passport pages were getting pretty darned full… I have one left. Yes, I have only one side of one page left. And of course, instead of a trip to the Philippines, it is turning into an around the world multi-country extravaganza! I still have to check out of Malaysia, in and out of Brunei, In and out of Malaysia again, In and out of Indonesia, In and out of Malaysia again, In and out of Hong Kong, In and out of Macau, In and out of Hong Kong… again, in and out of the USA, In and out of Antigua, and then in and out of how ever many other Caribbean islands we visit, before checking back in and out of the USA in the US Virgin Islands to fly home. The last Malaysian border guard was really great and stamped my boarding pass instead of my ticket.
I went to the Deer and Lang caves and first. Our plane just made it in time for me to make the 2pm tour. Many of the caves in the park are the biggest something or other - each one has it’s claim to fame. They are beautiful, unspoiled caves - even prehistoric man did not live in them, and the older local people still have a taboo about going into caves. They used to lay their deceased just inside the entrance to the cave, I think so that they could defend to the underworld, but felt it spiritually unwise to go into the underworld before you died. So there are no cave paintings in Mulu, but there is also no smoke damage and no broken stalagmites and stalactites. Just in case you forget which is which, it is easy to remember that when a boy and girl go walking in a cave, “when the tights go down, the might go up”…
We watched the bats exodus from the caves and then walked home in a lovely rainforest downpour.
Saturday, I went to Clearwater and Cave of the Winds and Fast Lane cave and Lagang Cave. The biggest cave is Sarawak cave, but I could not go as you need two full days to go there, and you have to do an intermediate level cave first, since Sarawak is an advanced level cave. I think they mean advanced as tourist level advanced, not spelunker advanced. But it would actually be proper spelunking with hard hats, ropes to climb and repelling. There is also the garden of eden walk, which is the way through where the giant cave ceiling has collapsed, and has turned into a beautiful lush jungle in the middle of a cave. But that is a seven hour hike and I just cant fit everything in.
The food at the little restaurant at the park is absolutely delicious and very reasonably priced. My dinner last night was a huge order of fresh vegetables and satays, and cost 17R ($6CAD).
I was able to get on the night walk and see the jungle at night. Our highlight was seeing a brown owl, on a tree that we could have almost reached out and touched. He stayed for a long time and then glided silently to another tree further away. We saw a lot of creepy crawlies and frogs too!
Early the next morning, I booked the canopy walk. We went before breakfast at 7am. We were accompanied for part of the walk by a tiny Borneo Jungle squirrel. They are only about an two inches long and have a long thin tail. Up in the canopy, the views are beautiful, but of course it can never be shown properly in photos. Neither can the feeling of walking on the narrow wobbly bridges high in the air.
We made it back in time for me to order some glass noodles to take for lunch and get a local to drive me to the airport for 5R for my 10:10 flight to Miri.
|Bats spiralling out of Deer and Lang Caves|
|The River connects everything - it is their highway.|
|This flute is played by nose - I brought one for you Ciaran - I suggest you wash it first though...|
|All of the houses are on stilts because of the flooding in the Rainforest.|
|The longboats. Most have regular short shaft motors, but some have the long motors that are common in Laos.|
|Amazing cave formations at the entrance to the cave. The single leafed plants that grow here, apparently are unique to Mulu.|
|This New York City structure is formed by acid producing bacteria eating away at the soft parts of the limestone.|
|So many beautiful entrances and exits.|
|Amazing formations - all so perfect and untouched. No wonder this is a World Heritage area.|
|Very tall trees.|
|Cave crickets for the large Huntsman spiders to enjoy.|
|The little chalets in the park - I really encourage people to stay here in the park!|
|The highlight of my walks - the owl right beside us on the night walk.|
|Large snails on a tree - this one is for you Aodhan! What kind are they?|
|Really noisy "Whooping" frog|
|Looking down from the canopy|
|The Canopy walk|
|Giant wild banana plants|
|Local homes outside the park|
|Leaving at the airport - our plane!|
|The suspension bridge into the park|
|Entrances to caves|
|Little bats nesting in holes in cave ceiling.|
|Cave worms make these sticky "webs" to catch their prey.|
|So white and smooth|
|The garden of Eden - where the ceiling of a giant chamber in Deer cave collapsed.|
|Stunning cave entrance - like a fairyland|
|So large you lose perspective of just how big|
|Lord Mulu it is...|
|Enjoying one of my boat rides|