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Bario to Mulu

sunny

The day previous proved unremarkable in a indulgence of deserved relaxation and reading, marked only by the realisation of an anniversary for me, now a full 11 months on the road. I knew now that I had entered a different world indeed where time had been relegated to secondary importance to the incalculable wonders on offer, Indonesia and Malaysian Borneo were only conducive to a timescale which I could never have hitherto contemplated and yet they justified every last day. Every day I impatiently thought of oh so near Australia and yet it was still a world away, I let that consideration remain surprisingly inconsequential in the presence of other important attractions. Certainly though I didnt wish any further unnecessary delay there could be no question of cutting corners.

Fearful of not uncommon delays and cancellations, we were fortunate in waking to a day of acceptably scattered cloud which would not preclude our departure. Nights of entertaining conversation with Swiss duo Alex and Melanie revealed that they had flown out in advance of us with the intention of next tackling Gunung Mulu National Park, and our immediate connection via Miri airport had us booked on the same flight as them back out into the jungle folds. Arriving at Miri airport after another panorama of forested rolling hills and logging track scars, it was a strange permutation to variously spy or meet up with a myriad of travellers whom I had met over the last fortnight or so. The Swiss duo booked on the same flight as us out to Mulu were predictable, and yet besides a gaggle of other fellow itinerants previously encountered I was shocked to unexpectedly come across Sine accompanied by an Ozzie bloke, she should have been long gone. My mind had writhed at an opportunity missed ever since I had left her here in Miri, and as though now to rub it in here she was having just completed the impending delights of Mulu and the Headhunter's Trail to boot. If I had been more partisan in forsaking Roberto and let my heart rule for once, it would have been me instead of the Ozzie that was plain, it helped that he was a nice guy though and I didnt let the perversity of the situation take the piss out of me. I was just left wondering whether I had made an error of judgment, or was it just the story of my life?

Another incongruous farewell saw me loaded onto a Fokker 50 in Malaysian Airlines colours for the backtrack up the now familiar route to Mulu, a flight less than full despite the ostensibly premium availability, and the remarkably swift 18 minute hop had us land at an airfield surrounded by jungle-clad limestone outcrop scenery reminiscent of southern Thailand. Our naivety played into the hands of touts awaiting the easy pickings of disorientated arrrivals, who we paid generously for an unnecessary short van transfer, upon which the park HQ became a focal point for further uncertainty. Hoping against hope that a bed with our name on it had been reserved, we had to collectively back down from expected confrontation when we found our names on the books after all, I joined Roberto, Alex and Melanie in a large dormitory against our expectation. They obviously didnt have a habit of confirming booking requests and given the propensity for problematic ramifications it was a poor excuse for service however they redeemed themseves since, especialy given the stereotypically inflated pricing.

With only 3 nights at Mulu, Roberto and I were forced into dropping our bags and immediately heading out on a lone and technically illegal evening foray, our itinerary for the next couple of days would leave us no other avenue to explore one of the local cave systems and so it had to be now. With the caves ostensibly closing at 6pm it was a rushed boardwalk speedmarch with no time to afford appreciation of especially prolific bird calls, and so we arrived at what was actually a less than immediately obvious yawning which unfolded only once almost within it, the cavernous entrance to the Deer Cave. Our first of the 5 resident "Show Caves", the Deer Cave was no ordinary hole in the ground. Boasting the worlds largest cave mouth and largest underground chamber, you could allegedly park 40 Jumbo Jets in it nose to tail......

Then nearby Lang's Cave after watching the amazing periodic sunset exodus of millions of bats......

Posted by andyhay 00:00 Archived in Malaysia

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