Borneo - Sarawak

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December 10th 2007
Published: February 15th 2008
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The PinnaclesThe PinnaclesThe Pinnacles

an incredibly hard climb
Our time in Sarawak would be in two distinct parts, firstly in Mulu National Park, and then spending time in a traditional longhouse in the jungle.

First we met with our group in Miri, and after buying supplies we headed for the river where it took us a full day travelling up stream until we reached Miri. The park headquarters were lovely, but we would not be spending all our time here. We would use it as a base to explore some of the biggest and most impressive caves in the world, including Deer cave, a cave so huge you could fit St Pauls Cathedral in it easily. The cave was also home to 4 million bats, and the largest pile of bat poo in the world. Other caves were smaller but not less interesting with great limestone formations, or huge underground rivers.

From the park headquarters we would also launch an adventure off deep into the jungle. First by travelling yet further upriver, this time in small longboats, we found ourselves at the trailhead for the headhunters trail, and after a few more hours walking to the hut where we would spend the next few days. Our plan
Drawing timeDrawing timeDrawing time

Some crayons and paper and these kids are away
was to climb the Pinnacles. While not having nearly as much height as Mt Kinabalu, the average gradient of this climb was around 45 degrees, so this would be quite demanding. All in all the total time taken up and down was around 8 hours, and the way down was no easier than the way up. But it was a spectacular view from the top, looking over the dense jungle, and at the dagger sharp pinnacles themselves, huge limestone rocks stabbing at the sky.

Heading back through the leech infested trails, we would go back to Miri, and then onward to another part of Sarawak. Kuching would be our next stop, a nice little city, before driving and then on longboats up the river to a traditional longhouse. The people of this part of Borneo used to be headhunters, but most have put away their grizzly trophies and welcomed visitors to stay with them. Also coming with us was a film crew for a New Zealand travel show called Intrepid Journeys. This show features a different celebrity each episode on a different 'Intrepid Journey'. This time it was big Norman Hewitt, an ex All Black. Norm proved to be
Umm... millipedesUmm... millipedesUmm... millipedes

Having it off. My that is certainly a lot of legs to spread!!
a really nice chap, and fit in really well with the rest of the group.

We spent several days staying with the tribespeople at the longhouse. We would sleep on mats in the communal living space, and also consume a little bit too much rice wine again, but we all had a great time, it was great spending time with tribespeople, of which only a few actually spoke english. Still language doesn't seem to be a big thing after a couple of rice wines.

And then our Borneo adventure was truly at an end. Back at Kuching we said our goodbyes and then flew back to Kuala Lumpur and back to our 'Big Trip'.

Additional photos below
Photos: 21, Displayed: 21


Buying goods on the BlackmarketBuying goods on the Blackmarket
Buying goods on the Blackmarket

Lots of great stuff available!
Caves of BorneoCaves of Borneo
Caves of Borneo

Sarawak has many impressive limestone caves, including Deer cave which has the largest entrance in the world. You could fit St. Pauls Cathedral in that one.
Underwater RiverUnderwater River
Underwater River

A huge river has cut its way straight through a mountain.
Jungle FernJungle Fern
Jungle Fern

Very tasty.
Python at the marketsPython at the markets
Python at the markets

Some big snake steaks on this one
Bath time at the Iban LonghouseBath time at the Iban Longhouse
Bath time at the Iban Longhouse

Also doubles as a swim
Cock fightingCock fighting
Cock fighting

A huge sport in Asia, every night the roosters would be brought out for some sparring practice.
That's one angry roosterThat's one angry rooster
That's one angry rooster

Ready to have a fight with another rooster.
Communal area at the Iban LonghouseCommunal area at the Iban Longhouse
Communal area at the Iban Longhouse

This is also where we would sleep, on mats on the floor.
Outside the Iban LonghouseOutside the Iban Longhouse
Outside the Iban Longhouse

Amazingly it seems more stable than it looks.
Pigs HeadPigs Head
Pigs Head

These would be our bar snacks, they go well with rice wine
Ross and NormRoss and Norm
Ross and Norm

Yeah not much of a comparison really. I need to do more weights.
Rubber treeRubber tree
Rubber tree

The tree is carefully tapped and the sap runs down the goove into a container.
Sad but true - a chained MacaqueSad but true - a chained Macaque
Sad but true - a chained Macaque

Many animals are captured like this, even Orangutans sometimes.

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