Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gunung Mulu National Park

Today we're going on a cave expedition. The guy in the yellow shirt told us that the walk is about 10km for Clearwater Cave. I'm ready. My brother and mom said they will only go to two caves. Total is four. We're all carrying backpacks filled with bottled water, mosi-guard, sunscreen, torchlight and slippers.

A long canoe came and we got into it. It was a very slim boat, and very long. I was scared to lean on either sides in case the boat topples over and crocodiles eat us. Then I remembered to ask the guide about whether there were crocodiles or not, and he said he's never seen any crocodiles around that area before. I was satisfied enough.

The boat ride was as serene as it could possibly be. The locals by the river banks were happy enough to wave at us and shout hi! I guess they were used to visitors. It seems like it. Otherwise they wouldn't be buck naked jumping in the river or washing a bucketload of dirty clothes as we pass by the river.

Buck naked kids about to jump into the river.

Handicrafts by Penan people where we had a short stop
before continuing on to the caves.

The first cave was called the Wind Cave. There were some weird wonderful formations. I mean, it's a cave right? What else is to be expected. There wasn't any bats though. The length of the cave surprised me. It was really long, and as I finished the first cave walking, my clothes were already wet from sweating. Ehem. So was everyone else's. And I spotted a couple who were dressed like Indiana Jones and his wife(if he ever had one).

I just climbed 200 steps damn it. How the hell did my brother did it? How did the Indiana Joneses did it?? We were sweating like crazy and my muscles were cramping(almost). But I quickly recovered and enjoyed the second cave named Clearwater cave. There were a bunch of hot guys geering up for adventure caving. *snap* *snap*

Bloody hungry but somehow our tour guide will only give our food when we return to Royal Mulu where we're staying.

My tennis shoes are ruined after walking through 2 caves.

All geared up for second round of cave-walking. Next destination: Lang & Deer Cave. This time, we traveled by tuk-tuk to the Mulu National Park.

Ready for second round of cave walking but have NO idea what's up ahead.

Longest walk ever. Our tour guide wasn't kidding when he said walking to the cave will take 1 hour. I was contemplating all kinds of wild animals living in this jungle throughout the walk. He said leopards live in these jungles. Cool. As long as they don't consider us dinner. We arrived at Lang Cave. There were some pretty weird formations, which are different than the first two caves.


I have to say, Deer Cave is my favorite cave. Not only is it the largest cave passage in the world, it even has bats! Most of the time, it felt like walking on a big asteroid ala Armageddon. If you've watched the movie, you'll know what I mean. By this time, all the pain in my leg is just a dull cramp which is easily ignored.

On the set of armageddon.
The Cave was REALLY dark.
Well, well, it has started raining and the walk out of the park takes one hour. If Abah hadn't told us to remove some raincoats, we would've had enough for everyone. My brother was pretty cranky about having to share the raincoats. It started pouring heavily. We took shelter at the big hut nearby the cave. Note that I'm using the word nearby very loosely. It's about 400m away.

Besides us, there were those Romanian couple, the UK girl, the UK guy with his indian wife, the American guy and the Australian girl. As you can see, there aren't many Malaysians at all. In fact, all of them were foreigners/travelers.

The guy who's selling food told me that maggi costs rm5. I'm not stingy. Believe me, eventhough many of my posts suggest otherwise since I complain about prices alot. When that guy said rm5, I told my mom that we should just forget about it and just buy snacks. I grabbed Twisties and was about to pay when I saw the price was rm6.50. This is bollocks. But I was extremely parched and hungry, so I bought the maggi.

We decided to continue on our walk back to the entrance because it will be dark soon. Since there were other people with us, we didn't really think about anything.

Sharing raincoats slowed us down. Other people were making a dash for it eventhough they didn't have any raincoats. When the head of the family said slow down, we slowed down. The sky was getting dark. It was darker than usual because of the pouring rain.

5.30pm:I feared we weren't going to make it before nightfall. The sky is really dark right now. I managed a peak behind and saw my 'rents, and youngest brother way behind us that I could only see the light from their torchlights. Up ahead we couldn't see anyone. I started imagining things appearing in front of us. We were in thick lush jungle man. My brother expressed his concern about how a leopard could suddenly jump out in front of us. Certainly didn't help.

5.45pm:Head of family caught up with us and told us to stick together and walk in a group. So we did. Suddenly I saw a firefly. Then there was another. And another. Before I knew it, we were surrounded by fireflies. I've never seen this much fireflies. It was almost as if a fairy was going to pop out anytime. I managed a sideway peak into the dark jungle(albeit cautiously and quickly) and saw clusters of fireflies lighting up in the dark. It was so beautiful and such a pity that I couldn't snap a picture of them. My camera was tucked in snugly with plastic in my backpack. No way I was going to stop.

We passed by the Britons. Seems like one of their friends tripped and hurt her ankle or something. They let us pass first. We continued on. I was just glad that there were still human beings in the reserve.

It was practically nighttime by now. The jungle animals have long started their howls and shouts. The crickets had begun to make their noise a while ago. We saw light up ahead and eventhough I was tempted to shout out, I was still very cautious so I kept quiet until we absolutely sure that we're nearing the entrance. Then my dad let out a victory whoop, followed by us. We made it alive!!

Finished 20 km walk through 4 caves and a national reserve.
Side note: I was supposed to post this 2 days ago, but getting an internet connection is kinda hard when you're traveling every few days to a new state. I've got a newfound respect for travelers. We met some on our trip and they were really cool.

Note on 23/6/2012: Gunung Mulu National Park is one of UNESCO's World Heritage Site. There are only three in Malaysia: Gunung Kinabalu, Melaka & Penang colonial cities, and Gunung Mulu National Park. Check it out here

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