Our adventure in Sarawak continues. In our first day in Gunung Mulu National Park, we were able to visit two of the four show caves in the park. The massive Deer Cave and the small yet impressive jellyfish-like rock formations at Lang Cave. This time we rode a boat at Melinau river to reach our first cave for the day, Cave of the Winds. But before that, we took a quick side-trip at a Penan Settlement to get a glimpse of the life of an endangered ethnic tribe.
It always amuses me how our languages sounds similar to the rest of our neighboring countries in Southeast Asia. The Melinau river (Sungai Melinau), is a tributary to Tutoh river, one of the many rivers cutting through the Gunung Mulu National Park landscape. The name sounds similarly to our tagalog “malinaw” which means “clear”. The national park headquarters and our resort Mulu Marriott is located by this river. The soft flow, green river is utilized by locals as a means of transport.
We excitedly boarded a motorized longboat for our trip that took us on a ride along the lush winding river upstream.
About 15-20 minutes into our ride, we stopped by a Penan Settlement. A rustic riverside village by the ethnic tribe, Batu Bungan. Bungan is a beautiful fairy from the tribe’s local folklore and believed to have died at the prominent rock near the village. Thus they were named Batu Bungan.
It’s interesting to look at the nomadic lifestyle of the Batu Bungan tribe. The village has a tourist center where we can learn more about them and also purchase some handicrafts and souvenirs. Again the resemblance from our own tribes aren’t far, especially from the ethnic weaving and textile patterns. It was short visit and I got to enjoy trying out blowguns darts.
Cave of the Winds
It took only a shorter ride, maybe 10 minutes before we reached the wooden platform and stairs that would take us to the opening of Cave of the Winds. Also named as the Wind Cave, it was named as such as often times there’s a cool breeze blowing through the cave.
The pathway inside Cave of the Winds is 350 meters long, quite small but personally has one of the most picturesque chambers I’ve seen in a cave. The King’s Chamber, has a surreal set of stalagmites, stalactites and plenty of dramatic columns. As such, our guide, Jangin, pointed us to a set of rocks which resembles the nativity of Christ with the three kings.
Cave of the Winds is also a jump-off point to a more technical and challenging trail. This trail lead to the main chamber of the Clearwater Cave as the wind cave is also part of that cave system. Special permits and guides are needed to access this more adventurous trail. Of course with little time, we headed back where we came, rode along our longboat to our last cave exploration.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.