I spent the Friday pottering around town, getting my bearings and planning what I wanted to do in Miri. As my 30th birthday was the next day, I had envisioned going to the world's largest cave, but a night out of drinking, dancing and Karaoke with a few people from the hostel resulted in my getting up late, having a hangover, and doing very little! I went to the cinema to watch Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's new film Race To Witch Mountain, which ended up being one of the worst cinema experiences I've ever had. The film didn't seem to be all that good, but the sound was so poor I couldn't understand half of what they said (the Malaysian subtitles did little to aid me), and the picture was blurry. I may have thought the film wasn't too bad if it wasn't for a weak plot! The only plus for the film was that The Rock did put in a good performance in an otherwise disappointing film.
I made it to the cave the following day. The corollary of waiting a day was that four other people from the hostel joined me. It was an hour's ride to the Niah National Park entrance, and another hour's walk to the cave. The cave is reached by going through the "traders' cave", which is where locals would gather to trade goods at certain times of the year. Birds nests were a big trading point for the cave. People would create massive poles from wood, and climb up them, without any safety harness, to the top of these un-sturdy contraptions to get the nests from the top of the inside of the cave. I can only imagine how many deaths occurred over the years from this. The cave itself is around 75 metres high and up to 200 metres wide, with a decreasing depth from the entrance. We walked to the back of the cave, which shrank in size to walkways around three metres high, enough to walk to the other side of the cave. Torches were essential, as there was total darkness in places, which the bats preferred. At the other side was the "Painted cave", which had ancient paintings, which date back 1200 years. On the way back, we stopped at a beach for a swim, but I got two jelly fish stings straight away, so we decided against it.
On the Monday, I had another day to sort things out, then on the Tuesday, I went with two others to Lambir National Park. This park's main attraction is a twenty-five metre high waterfall. The short trail to this one starts by passing two other waterfalls which run down from this one, before reaching the clearing where the drop and pool below can be reached for a swim for those that choose to. We walked for another hour and a half up a hill path, getting to the top of the highest point in the region with views over thirty kilometres stretching over the forests to the sea. On the way back down, we stopped at another impressive waterfall for a swim. When I put my feet in the water and stood still, the small fish that inhabited the water came to nibble at my toes. The more interesting piece of wildlife was the leech that attached itself to my finger, and I was unable to get it off for about ten minutes. It left no mark, but was on an annoying body part.
I arrived in Miri around midday, and went to a hostel run by a lady that became affectionately known as "mad cat lady"! If anyone has seen the cat lady in The Simpsons who throws cats as passers by, that was this lady in real life! There were seven cats in the hostel, one of which I think was actually hers, and the other six were from different litters from strays. She loved the cats, but handled them in an unusual way; for example, she dragged one of them by the tail to bring it closer, then picked it up by the scruff of its neck and back, and unsurprisingly, it struggled to get away!