Deep in the Jungle

Trip Start Sep 14, 2009
Trip End Aug 16, 2010

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Where I stayed

Flag of Malaysia  , Sarawak,
Friday, March 5, 2010

Mulu is just over the border in Sarawak, the other Malaysian state in Borneo by Brunei. Even though both Sabah and Sarawak are Malaysian, you have to get new passport stamps as they both consider themselves to be independent. Somebody told me that they only pay 5% of the taxes back to central government in Kuala Lumpur and are extremely defiant about their relative independence.

One of the most shocking things we saw was during the flight to Mulu. On the ground you are aware of the vast palm plantations that have been created at the expense of the rainforest. In the air you can see clearly the enormity of the devastating deforestation that has, and continues to take place in Borneo and Malaysia. The vast and ruthless approach has meant that the animals and wildlife have been left without a natural habitat and thus died. This continues relatively unabated with greedy plantation owners in cahoots with the government. A crying shame if ever there was one.

Mulu is basically a small modern airport, a stunning National Park with a lodge and a 5 star resort. The resort was apparently built without the local tribes consent and is extremely contentious which is a good reason not to stay there in addition to the 5 star prices.

Amongst the dense rainforest are mountains that house some of the world's most extensive cave systems and arguable the world’s biggest cave, Deer Cave.

We had arranged to cross over and meet Bonnie and Dave there for a night although when we got there, Dave had been laid low with a bout of the Trotsky’s. We enjoyed a wonderful walk through the rain forest with Bonnie on our first afternoon to a little waterfall which Ady braved and jumped right in. The park is superbly maintained and there are boardwalks that take you along paths into the forest and to the caves. At first this appears a bit false and too modern but in fact it enables you to walk freely and not worry about tripping up as you look all around you at the scenery. Unfortunately Issy also felt unwell and missed a couple of days exploring, including a great river trip up to Clearwater Cave. The river was very low and Liz, Ady and I went on a narrow motor boat up stream over small rocks and rapids incredibly navigated by our captain and lookout boy at the front. The reward was a visit into a spectacular couple of caves that form part of an underground system that extends for over 200kilometers. In fact the length is not known exactly as each couple of years, cavers and scientists find new routes and passages in the depths of the mountain. Clearwater cave is so called thanks to the river that is at the base of its entrance providing a small swimming lagoon. Incredibly the heat remains when you are underground and combined with the intense humidity meant that we couldn’t wait to jump into to the cold refreshing water after our visit. We also visited a local village and saw a lady play the flute, through her nose and another that had pierced ear lobes that could fit a log through!

Another world’s best is the longest canopy walk that took us for over 600metres around the top layer of the rainforest. We didn’t see much in the way of living creatures but the skyline and variety of the majestic trees alone is quite stunning.

We spent half a day trekking up to milk cave with Ady which is so named due to the interior being completely white like milk due to the density of the pure limestone.

We had decided to leave "The Big One" until last. Deer Cave was at one point, the largest known cave in the world and is equally well known for the millions of bats that leave the cave at dusk. It is about an hour’s walk to the cave and as soon as you approach you can see an enormous, cavernous opening looming before you. It has difficult to get an appreciation of the enormity of the cave through a lens and the same goes with my description, but it is quite simply mind blowing. David Attenborough hand his camera crew have been regular guests, filming the life that goes on inside the cave and notably in the Guava or bat poo. There are loads of beetles, locusts, spiders and other creepy crawlies that spend their day in the crap quite literally and when you look closely it appears that the surface is moving.

At s dusk falls the millions of bats leave the cave in great swirling packs to avoid being picked off by the eagles that prey on any lost bat. They then travel over 100km each night hunting for food and return at about 4 or 5 in the morning. This is one of the amazing sights to behold at Mulu, unfortunately whilst we were visiting the cave just before the end of the day, the heavens literally opened and rain fell like stair rods. It is the rainforest after all. This however that Mr Bat sent his scouting soldier out who obviously came back and reported that it would be a day of hunger and they would stay inside nice and dry that night. Oh well, Mother Nature can’t be controlled.
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hanli chiew on

sleep , dreaming about MULU CAVES .!.

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