Some would say 3 hours was too early but why make life more stressful? We returned the extremely reliable fun wagon to Mr Vincent and played with our iPhones for half an hour. Our early arrival at the airport even afforded us time for a McDonalds lunch. I really didn't think it was a good idea but the other three forced me into it. Much happier on full bellies we boarded the MASwings plane to Mulu National Park.
The take off through the cloud layer threw the little plane around a bit causing a few worried looks but we then coasted smoothly over tropical islands off the coast of Borneo for the next thirty minutes
. We apparently flew over Brunei but it was not on my side of the plane so I cannot report fully. Giles says it just looked like any other place from the sky! Then we landed, quite scary as I was not expecting a stop over. The airport was called Miri and we strangely had to go through immigration despite not leaving the country. We did a mini loop and then walked back to the plane to take up the same seat for the 20 minute flight to Mulu.
This flight was great. We stayed really low and after surveying further rainforest destruction by palm oil plantations we were surrounded by dense jungle. If you are ever in any doubt about human impact on the natural world, this was the perfect eye opener. They say Orang-Utans used to be able to swing through trees from one side of Borneo to the other (not in one swing I believe), it is now a very different picture with 1000s of acres of wildlife rich rainforest wiped out by the ugly scarring of plantations. However, that was behind us and we were going deep into the forest. The only way into Mulu National Park is by air or a 12 hour boat ride, flying so low over the jungle gave a real sense of how vast it is and landing at the small airstrip was really exciting.
We checked in at Park HQ to a very smooth chalet
. We settled in, had supper and prepared for the night walk. During dinner I was attacked by a huge insect. I looked down and it had drawn blood from both of my ankles. As I went for it, the big blighter flew over to have a go at Polly. It wasn't exactly Indiana Jones but I reacted quickly to save her, shooing it towards Giles. This welcome to the jungle led us to probably go over the top in our preparation for the night walk. Our fear of spiders , snakes and leeches (great if you are in the jungle) convinced us that we needed full length trousers tucked into our waterproof socks. The walkway stroll kept us well away from anything that might fright and our fellow walkers were in shorts and flip-flops! Better to be safe than sorry though. The noises of the jungle were the most striking part of the walk. Frogs are very, very noisy creatures and they produced a wonderful chorus. We saw some pretty interesting stick insects, a spider catching bird and some good looking lizards. I was ready to fight off the snakes but they must have known I was coming. Giles nearly let us all down badly when he narrowly avoided stamping on the stick insect we’d all been so keenly inspecting.
Back at HQ we had a good session of cards before hitting the sack. We like it here, just as well as we are based here for the next 5 days. No internet, no TV, just bugs, lots of bugs.
Miles Cycled: 0, we are more into planes at the moment
It was yet another stroppy start to the day and when Polly discovered Starbucks was not open until 10, it really hit the fan. We checked out of the very pleasant Courtyard Hotel on the outskirts of KK and made the short drive to the airport. Once again the Gick preference for arriving last minute and dashing through check in was overruled and we arrived at the airport in very good time.