Upon arrival at Miri airport, no taxi wants to take us...max 4 people per taxi and the hotel is 45 minutes away! We decide to rent a car because of the few excursions we want to make. Michael is not too excited to drive on the wrong side of the road but fortunately the Malaysian seem to be careful drivers...not like in Thailand!!!! Anyway, we get a beautiful orange Proton (Malaysian)car, with spoiler and all the works!!! It is at least 20 years old and is so low that any little rock or dip in the road scratches the underside of it!!!! Driving seems not too bad for Michael and after 45 minutes we reach the "Borneo Tropical Rainforest Resort"...or at least we think we reached it
. After passing the gates the road stops and we have to go further on a dirt road, or rather a "stone" road". The car doesn't seem too happy and we are getting more and more suspicious of the place we are heading to...Finally, after 10 minutes we get there. It looks pretty nice but feels like a kind of ghost hotel....no guests in sight, only staff...there is just one other family. We head to the "water park" and relax at the pool with several water slides. Pretty nice and fun eventhough everything is pretty shabby. We decide not to have dinner at the hotel since there is only a set menu and is quite expensive so we take our car and head for the next village, about 25 minutes away. After stopping at a fuel station to ask for directions (road maps are useless and road signs are not better) we get to Bekenu where we find a place that looks ok. As we get out of the car it is already dark and we hear thousands of birds chirping around us. They are all over the building, on the wires and the boards...hmm, funny! It turns out that thoses birds appeared here in the village about 5 years ago after some trees have been chopped off in the area. Apparently the birds lost their homes and come and spend the night in the village!!! The food we order is super and we are entertained by some guy singing along with one of those karaoke programm on a huge TV screen! Authentic...we are the only tourists!!
Next day we head to Lambir National Park where we do some easy trekking and swimm in the river at the waterfalls
. The walk to the first waterfall is easy enough and the girls swimm awhile in the pool down there. We go further but no swimming at the second waterfall because of leeches, yuk!! Speaking of leeches, we bought anti leeches socks but didn't use them because there are none in the dry season, so if anybody is interested....After that the walk gets harder , up and down and up, pfffff, we are all completely wet! The temperature is actually pretty nice but the humidity is killing us. At some point we wonder if we didn't take the wrong trail but no, it seems right. The whole trail is about 5-6 km but it seems like muuuuuuuch more! Finally we make it back to the Park HQ and refuel on 100 Plus (local isotonic drink)!!! We had planned the whole day in Lambir but are done with out trekking around 2:00pm and no one feels like going for a second trek so we head up to the little city of Miri where we plan to have dinner anyway. We walk around for a little, get an excellent ice cream and end up having a drink in some nice place. We decide to test a place for dinner specialized in Satays. The place is full, packed...good sign!! No more table for us! We forgot it's Ramadan and as soon as the sun sets everybody is out for dinner. We finally get a table but on the side of the road...actually it's more like in the middle of the road, on a concrete island between the 4 mains lanes!!!! It's a bit like having dinner in the middle of the A1!!!! The dinner is excellent and the staff, as always here, very friendly. The drive back is a little less fun in the dark, the roads are pretty uneven and some are not marked, which makes it difficult to stay on your lane
. By the time we get back Margaux and Amelie are asleep. Tomorow we plan an easy day at the beach. The plan was to drive down to the Niah Cave but we have seen so many caves already and apparently if you have seen the caves at Mulu, what we did, it is not a must to see the caves at Niah. It would have been interesting though because there are very old mural paintings in there but heck, a little rest seems more appealing for the moment!!!!
So off we are to the beach in the morning. We stop somewhere along the road, a beautiful beach with no one except two fishermen. Suddenly we have some doubts about saltwater crocodiles and Mathilde doesn't want to get in the water. Nothing is mentioned in the travel guides about this area and Michael goes and asks the fishermen..answer is "I don't know...maybe a little further inland"...very reassuring!!! We still all end up in the water, but only knee deep...as if that was gonna held in case of attack!!!!!! After a while we decide to check out another beach and that one had a lifeguard on duty. Good sign! After swimming we get some corn on the cob from a beach street vendor and about 20 satay stick, hmmmm, delicious! After that we head to Miri again to do some shopping...they have like tons of shopping malls but every little store in there sells either mobile phones, DVD copies or clothes. And half of the surface is empty. It funny to look around in the supermaket and there is lots of local food stuff we have to get before we go home! In the evening we go to the same place for dinner and this time get a table in the restaurant....almost disappointing!!!! We need to get back not too late as we have to get up early tomorrow to catch our plane to Kuching, in the south of Sarawak.
This morning we left for Miri, leaving our friends behind in Mulu...it was weird to continue without them, we had a great time eventhough we didn't get as many Gin Tonics as promised!!!! Will do better next time! Thanks for the great time you lovely people and hope to travel with you again!!