I'm Walkin' on Guano - oh, oh, oh!

Trip Start Oct 30, 2012
Trip End May 30, 2013

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Where I stayed
Niah National Park

Flag of Malaysia  , Sarawak,
Thursday, January 24, 2013

Last night we decided to get out to the cave to see the bats leave the grand cave entrance. Unfortunately, they slept in. We would have waited longer for them, but we had to leave in order to make it back to catch the last boat across the river. Shame, as it would have been really beautiful.  Shame too that we had to rush along the path as it would have been great to see lots of night animals – especially with Brian's new flash light! Even so, we did see a dragon lizard, a frog, bats, monitor lizard and a group of frolicking mongoose. Then when we got down to the river, Brian shone his light around and illuminated some more eyes – CROCODILE EYES! Good thing we got to the boat in time as we really DON'T want to be swimming here!!!

The next day, we decided to do a little hiking down a different trail first. This would take us to a summit and a near by town where we could have lunch and find some beer (Brian and Andy, our travel companion, were quite desperate for a pint). Then we could head into the caves in the afternoon.

The walk turned out to be a bit more difficult than intended. We left the board walk and went onto a little used trail, as evidenced by the weed growth and deep mud! After almost 2 hours of slogging, we had a choice of a 400m straight up summit, or out to the town. We chose the town as we still wanted to get to the caves this afternoon. That branch of trail was even less used than the previous and not well marked. Some genius chose green as the trail marker...Eventually we arrived at the end of the trail at a distant boat jetty. There was no boatman, and no one on the opposite bank. There were two decrepit paddle boats chained to the dock on our side though. Thankfully, only one was padlocked and we were able to get across
without walking back. Hopefully no one else tries that path for awhile!

When we stopped for lunch, we were met by 4 KL students who were doing an assignment on popular culture looking for backpackers to interview. We had a nice lunch together and then they drove us back to the park where we conducted the interviews with much laughter.

Then we were finally off to the caves – the whole reason we came here in the first place! The great cave was immense with many branches off of it. Everywhere we walked the cavern ceiling was so high above us - it might as well been that of a stadium.  Some people get claustrophobia when walking through caves, but we had a bit of the opposite feeling...With that amount of open space inside, I mean, what's holding up the mountain? Took the walk through the cave across the slippery guano covered steps looking around at the enormous formations and trying to peek at some of the 250 000 bats that failed to make an appearance last night. We could also see the bamboo poles that people climb to harvest the tasty bird's nests.

As staggering as this cave system was, it was not my most favourite cave.  This might have been the largest, but other caves are much more atmospheric when you're climbing over rocks
and poking around in corners. It was interesting to see the harvesting of nests and guano as well as much of the archaeological evidence that's been found here.

On our way out, who should we meet, but the students again! More photos and a pleasant walk back to the park headquarters. The boys got their cold beer after a long walk, so everyone was happy!
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