Niah Caves

Trip Start Feb 23, 2006
Trip End Jun 24, 2009

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Where I stayed
National Park HQ

Flag of Malaysia  ,
Monday, July 28, 2008

The 4x4 dropped us off at a restaurant near the bus station. Since Crazy Borneo Man (CBM) had been so nice to us, I figured the least I could do was buy him lunch. Gill decided that she didn't want to do anything but get a good nights sleep in a place with a hot shower and no cocks. I wasn't sure if that included me. I wanted to go trekking and spelunking through the Niah Caves in Niah National Park. I was pretty sure that there wouldn't be any chickens at the park, but I couldn't guarantee that they'd have hot showers. I also didn't know how to get from Bintulu, to the actual park HQ. There is no direct bus service to HQ so I had to take a bus to Miri and get off at the junction of Batu Niah and the road. Gill and CBM continued up to Miri. I couldn't find a reasonable taxi driver to take me to the park HQ which the Lonely B*stard says is only 3km along the river from the junction. I thought 30RM for a 3km ride was a bit too much so I decided to feign a walk to park HQ. As I started walking down the road towards HQ, I figured worse case I could just hitch a ride close and walk the rest of the way. They must have been watching me because a minivan came up shortly after and stopped to tell me the price had dropped to a written 15. I switched to Mandarin as I could see the driver was Chinese and didn't speak any English. Unfortunately, he still insisted that it was 15 in Mandarin. I wasn't really going to walk the 3km anyway, so I finally agreed to 13 so we could all save face. It turned out that the HQ was more like 15km instead of 3km. I was really glad I didn't have to walk it. I'm also glad Gill didn't come with me as this little scenario would not have sat well with her in her fragile condition from 3 days of no sleep.

When I showed up at the park and asked for a bed, they said that I had to rent out an entire room instead of just 1 bed. I guess no one really comes to Niah National Park to stay so they changed the policy. It was a pretty nice dorm room and once again I had the entire Asrama Hostel to myself. All 4 rooms, 16 beds including a lounge, kitchen and refrigerator. In fact, with the exception of a school challenge group, I was the only other visitor in the park.

I started first thing in the morning on the path to the Great Cave and the Painted Cave. As I was walking along the boardwalk path, I started to appreciate a smooth path in which you don't have to watch your every step. I was able to look through the plants and trees for animals, unfortunately there were none to be seen. I finally came across an old lady setting up her stand of trinkets and wares. I felt a bit sorry for her as I figured there wouldn't be any customers today so I bought a drink from her. Being on the path all by myself wasn't a problem and walking into the Great Cave's massive cavern wasn't bad either. It was when I started to descend into the darkness of the void did things get a bit spooky. I went down a flight of stairs leading into complete darkness except for my rented torch. At one point, I crossed my arms at the wrist with my camera over the torch like I was back in the tunnels of Vietnam. Unfortunately, the torch wasn't bright enough for the video that I shot to capture anything. It didn't help that I was reading a book set in a dark New York City Public Library full of scary aliens last night. I have to admit it was a bit freaky being alone in a pitch black cavern with no certainty that anyone was going to follow in my footsteps anytime within the next couple hours or days in case something happened. You can hear me on the video saying that if you find this camera, please keep looking as I'm probably not too far away. Finally, I saw the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel and felt a bit more at ease.

There really isn't much to see in either cave. The painted cave has a few red figures painted on the walls, but much of them are faded and difficult to see without binoculars. But because I was alone, an otherwise uneventful walk became a pretty thrilling experience.
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