Here today, guano tomorrow

Trip Start May 17, 2006
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Trip End Jul 01, 2006


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Friday, June 9, 2006

I am back in Miri now having just flown back from Gunung Mulu national park, which I am glad I went to last as it was the best national park I have been to yet. I got there yesterday morning around 11 and waited at the cafe for the first tour. The cafe workers were playing the funniest music really loud. I think it may have been the Vengaboys, but it was this really silly euro-club music with hilarious lyrics... "don't want to fight, fight, do we have to fight... fight, fight, fight, fight..." Then I watched the informational video at the cafe and found out that bats' wings are really just their hands. Did any of you know that? The cafe had good food (even some western things like pancakes and burgers) and my room was decent. I got the fan room at the cabin for about $15. It could have slept three people and was really massive. Cold water showers because the little British electric shower box was broken.

At 2:30 I went on the tour to Lang's Cave and Deer Cave with a German couple and two English couples (everywhere I go I end up hanging out with all these couples). They were all really nice. One English couple was on a year-long RTW trip and were entering their seventh month. Fuckers.

Our guide, Larry (all these Malaysians have weird western names), took us first into Lang's Cave, which has really interesting stalagtites/mites and columns (formed when the stalagtites and mites meet). Larry was kind of a joker, giving us tanning tips and whatnot. On the way there we also saw all kinds of jungle plants and learned which ones the local nomadic people, the Penan, use for medicines and weapons. The second cave was completely different. It was called Deer Cave and has the largest cave passage in the world. It was MASSIVE. I thought the Great Cave at Niah was big, but that was bullshit compared to Deer Cave. It was really stinky inside because about 3 million naked and wrinkly bats live there (these are two species) and drop serious guano all over the joint. There is a spot where you can see the mouth of the cave from inside and it looks like Abe Lincoln's profile on one side.

We walked all the way through the passage and back to the side we came from for the bat exodus that takes place daily between 4 and 6 PM. There were these huge columns of bats that would spiral out of the cave to go out and eat, maybe 10,000 at a time. There were all these Malaysian and Chinese families there and every time a column of bats came out they all went "ooooh, waaah," and compared the length of the column to the last one. There was another guide there that was a comedian. He was telling people not to walk with their mouths open unless they wanted nasi guano (nasi goreng means fried rice, so I guess nasi guano is shit rice). On the way back it started raining like a bastard and I was soaked after I finished the 3k walk back in that. I guess it worked out to wash the guano off, but it was kind of spooky in the dark in the jungle in the rain with all the weird noises.

I went back to the cafe to eat (they have something on the menu called "plunger coffee," sounds bomb) and chatted with this Scot who thought everything was "rubbish" and complained about almost everything in Malaysia. Kind of funny.

Today I went to the Wind and Clearwater Caves. You have to take a boat to them and the boat ride is really nice through jungle and limestone cliffs along this little river. When we got to Wind Cave it wasn't that windy, but there were a lot of really nice stalagmites/tites, especially in the room called King's Chamber where there were a lot of columns. This cave was like Lang's Cave only HUGE. After Wind Cave we went to Clearwater Cave, which has a river in it (hence the name). Outside the cave I saw a flyng lizard, which looked kind of like a leaf if you weren't paying attention. Inside Clearwater Cave I touched the water and it wasn't even cold! Maybe that's because it is hot as shit in Mulu and the inside of the caves are super humid and not really much cooler.

You could spend a week at Mulu doing the hike to the Pinnacles, the canopy walk, adventure caving, climbing Mt. Mulu, and regular day hikes, but I only had the one night so I just saw the show caves and bounced. I had too little time left to do anything else, so I went to the airport (45 second drive) after the last cave and got on an earlier flight back to Miri. It cost me $1.50 to change my ticket. I thought that was kind of funny. Anyway, I still had to wait, so I sat with the dudes at the cafe and watched a Chinese soap opera. Another Twin Otter flight down and luckily no more to go. I'm leaving Sarawak tomorrow (the state I have been in since I got to Borneo) for Sabah (still in Borneo, but supposedly very different).
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