Batu Niah Caves

Trip Start Nov 15, 2006
Trip End Jul 15, 2008

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

March 28, 2007
Batu Niah Cave Park

After a B$6.00 taxi ride from the hotel we are back at the Kuala Belait bus depot for our ride to Miri. The bus cost B$20.40 for both of us. At Miri we almost immediately board a bus headed to Batu Niah. We have a running joke between us where one of us will ask the other, for instance, what are we going to do when we get to Batu Niah? The other will say, "I don't know, I've never been there." Well in this case when we get off the bus at what we thought was Batu Niah we find we are not at Batu Niah but the intersection of the road to Batu Niah. So we still haven't been there.  However, there's a very interesting Food Court at the intersection, especially if you head back to the restrooms. It's a reptile and fish zoo back there; turtles, weird fish in tanks, alligators and other strange creatures. One of the food vendors offers to take us to the Batu Niah Cave Park for RM40.00. So we pile our luggage into her trunk and off we go.

We had planned on staying in the town of Batu Niah outside of the park because the description of the lodgings at the park sounded a lot like Uncle Tan's. But our taxi driver told us we should stay at the park and the lodging was good, and it was. We had a large two bedroom chalet with a common kitchen, dining and living room all to ourselves. [GPS 03 49.410N 113 45.711E] The cost was RM 105.00 including the park entrance fee.

After unpacking and a shower we headed off to the caves. We first have to cross the Sungai Niah River by long boat for a couple ringgits. The trail to the caves was a little over 4 km through the jungle. But this is a national park and the trail is either concrete or raised wooden walk ways. Unlike Uncle Tan's our feet never have to touch the mud of the jungle. This is the way to enjoy the jungle. We took our time (about 2 hours) and gawked at every strange plant and fungi. Iridescent multi-colored butterflies took turns flying around us as we passed. The impressive geological formation that holds the caves is Gunung Subis. It is a karst formation that is uplifted about 400 meters from the jungle floor. We wish we had a photo of it but from the jungle floor you only get glimpses through the canopy. We explored as much of the caves as we could stand and it was very interesting but Arvid really wanted to see the big bat-fly-out at dusk. The advertising for the park said that at sunset we would see competing clouds of swiftlets returning to the caves and fruit bats leaving the cave. That was a crock. It's strange that the flyers for the park never show any photos of this phenomenon. But we were gullible. We hung out inside the Great Cave soaking in bat guano fumes until 6:45 PM waiting for the big show that never happened. The last boat across the river leaves at 7:30PM and so we had to quit our vigil and hoof it double time back to the river. It was dark and Arvid's torch gave out on the way. The upside was that in the dark we could see fluorescent mushrooms the size of large portabellas along the way pathway. The downside was that we did not dare to stop for fear of getting left on the wrong side of the river and having to spend the night in the jungle. There were also fire flies much larger then those at home, and they seemed to be heading for us. At least we hoped they were only fireflies. It was getting a little scary racing through the dark with only Irina's flashlight and lots of shadows. We reached the river jetty five minutes late but the boat came back for us all the same. Dripping with sweat we headed for the park restaurant for a small dinner RM 20.00 and then a shower in our chalet and to bed. What a long day.
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