A week in the rainforest of Borneo - Mulu

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December 11th 2008
Published: December 12th 2008
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It's been a while, but we've been busy indeed and surprisingly the Borneo Rainforest doesn't have much of an internet connection!

Miri was our first stop after mainland Malaysia but if you can avoid spending longer than maybe 2 hours in the oil town then do it. Miri is awful. Not cheap either. The 'highland hostel' has bad reviews from everyone who goes there due to the 'crazy cat lady' who works there and is 25RM each for a dorm! We stayed in the fairland inn, which was a dive but 30RM for a double, beggers can't be choosers!

Dom was chasing an enormous cockroach around the room, lifted up Laura's mattress to teach it a lesson, and found a bag full of little baggies with traces of some white powder and some custom made straws. An extra person in your bed for the night was 2RM. Dodgy place. We were there for three nights waiting for a flight. Never again.

After the nightmares of Miri, including bull frogs in a tank available for dinner, mmm! We flew to Mulu National Park for some trekking, caving and sweating! Lots of sweating.

The park is in the middle of the rainforest and beautifully set up. It seemed a little over domesticated, as all the paths into the forest were wide wooden walkways and guides were necessary to do most things, but when it rained we saw why. Water levels were seriously high throughout the park leading to very wet feet to get our breakfast.

The showcaves were amazing, Mulu features the cave from all the wildlife documentaries with the huge pile of guano and the millions of bats that fly out at night. Again there were walkways throughout, but if its a choice between that and walking through bat poop I know which I would choose! Another cave features an underground lake and miles of passages. Visiting this lake gave us the opportunity to have a swim in the river before it fed into the cave which was very refreshing after spending the last few days soaked in sweat!

Mulu is also home to the biggest cave chamber, and biggest passage, in the world. Dom spent a couple of days underground and came back covered in cuts and bruises. His second day of caving saw him underground for about 6 hours, 2 of which he was swimming down the river in quite a current. Unlike in England, the caves here are full of wildlife - bats and swiftlets, various fist-sized spiders, gloworms, clickets, cockroaches, bat-eating snakes, shrimp, fish and more. The first cave was apparently quite easy, but the second resulted in several big gashes and a body covered in bruises and cave-corral impact marks.

The park is a very social place and we met tons of people. A lucky American, Josh, had his 21st birthday whilst in Mulu. He spent the day caving with Dom and the evening was spent drinking beer thanks to the boys traipsing back from the cheap bar down the road with two crates of beer! It was also a memorable night thanks to Micheal - an English guy who slipped in the mud and dislocated his elbow (and that was before any drinking!). He spent the night 'sipping' scotch and waiting for his flight to Miri in the morning to be fixed! It was also good to meet a down-to-earth British couple who were travelling with their 2-year old son for 12 months! Now we know it is possible the future holds no limits!

The park is very expensive (for Malaysia) across the board, and all the travel guides have the prices vastly wrong. But it is well worth it.

However, with dorms at 37RM a night each it would be worth considering a homestay just down the road for half that, but no-one tells you about this until after you have checked in and payed for your accommodation!

We saw some wildlife but not masses - moonrats, stickinsects, some kind of water rodent, various snakes and huge spiders, scorpions, milipedes, etc etc. On one walk we were lucky enough to see a brightly coloured bird fast asleep in a ball - see pics.

Six days was just about right to do most things we wanted to, although without Dom's adventure caving and if you weren't trekking to the pinnacles (an amazing rock formation 2 days walk away) then perhaps a little too long.

We flew back through Miri again, and Dom desperately wanted to buy a MIRI - OIL TOWN t-shirt but they were far too expensive. Luckily we only had a couple of hours before flying on to Kota Kinabalu. Right now we're wondering whether to climb the mountain or save our pennies for tropical diving on the coast.

But anyway, Borneo is brilliant.

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