Malaysia, Miri

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August 3rd 2010
Published: August 3rd 2010
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13th day - Borneo

Okay, so it took me 2 flights and a lot of hanging about in Kuala Lumpur Airport (not a bad place to waste time though) to get to Borneo. We are staying in a town called Miri, which is the main hub for backpackers wanting to visit Borneo's famous cave system. We have a short flight booked early tomorrow morning to take us to the National Park - It's not very far away but there just aren't any roads so we have no choice but to take a flight. There's a major shortage of roads all over Borneo actually, so the preferred method of travel is by boat or plane. We found a nights accommodation not far from the airport - a place packed full of travelers with the same idea. The little Malaysian lady running the place is someone I'll never forget, she is really quite odd. She speaks unbelievably quickly and it's impossible to understand what she's saying, if she's talking to me I just say "yeah" at the right time. She has a strange sense of humor too, she has 3 or 4 cats and finds it amusing to torment them by pushing them over when they're trying to get up etc, and she laughs hysterically about it! She reminds me of the crazy cat lady from the Simpsons, I can just imagine her throwing cat's at people too.

Miri is at the Northern tip of Borneo next to the coast, so fish dishes dominate the menu's, and they're good too! I can't quite put my finger on it but Miri is really different to any other place we've been. People are not so outspoken here, they seem helpful and fairly friendly but don't bother you for transport etc, which is a nice change! There's obviously a Mandarin influence here, it's the first time I've seen written Chinese characters on my travels.

We spent a lot of time earlier trying to organize our visit to the National Park. It seems there are only 3 hotels in or near the park, 2 of which are extremely expensive for South East Asia and the other semi-affordable one is fully booked up. Seems a bit silly to me to only have 3 fairly small hotels in such a commonly visited area of Borneo, they could make more money for the area if they built more accommodation. We could ask about staying in a local's home when we get there but it's not guaranteed that we'll be able to, so instead we've bought a tent and will be camping in the rain forest. It's not going to be easy, it'll be a good experience but it certainly won't be comfortable!
At the hostel we made friends with a Dutch guy called Ruud, he was also having problems finding a place to stay and asked if he could share our tent with us. It's a 4 man tent but even so, B & F and also Ruud are not small guys so it's going to be tough sleeping in there for 2 nights.
We're hoping to trek to a huge cave entrance tomorrow in time for when 3 million or so bats fly out at sun set. Apparently it doesn't always happen though so I hope we'll be lucky, we don't want another "Bromo" on our hands!
After 2 nights in Mulu National Park we'll fly to Kota Kinabalu in the Sabah region of Borneo. We'll then get a boat to a tiny National Park on a small Island off the coast where we will do yet more camping. That's the plan anyway....


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