As one of the most populous city in Malaysia, the City of Kuching seemed provincial and laid back despite the city developments. I like those kind of cities where it doesn’t feel rushed yet has the infrastructure comfort of urban living. Sarawak River threading through the city, adding a steady flow of balance between tranquility and hustle. We had a chance to see more of Kuching when friends from Place Borneo gave us a little tour to compliment our own wanderings.
A five-star and 272-room property, Riverside Majestic Astana Wing sits at the heart of Kuching City overlooking the winding Sarawak river. Conveniently located across the waterfront and walking distance to a lot of attractions in the city. It was a perfect home base for us as we cover the Kuching Jazz Festival in 2019.
Prior to visiting Kuching, the capital of Sarawak is under my radar of places to visit. I had an initial impression it would be similar to other cities in Borneo like Kota Kinabalu. Surprisingly, the city along the meandering Sarawak River has a different vibe. With my usual practice of exploring new cities on foot, Kuching felt more like a counterpart of George Town in this side of Malaysia. The vibrant and artsy streets, affordable and tasty food and the easy going lifestyle of the people.
Coming from Cave of the Winds, we had very short boat ride to our last cave visit – the Clearwater Cave. On the boat ride to the cave, I noticed the plank walk hanging by the rock walls leading to the cave. It looks fragile but walkable. I’m sure it would be fun to take that trail if we had more time. The boat was faster as we arrived soon at the scenic picnic area before clearwater cave. The colorful longboats gather by the riverbanks as the boatmen await each of their guests. We’re excited to explore Asia’s longest cave system but not before having our lunch first.
Upriver to the Cave of the Winds
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.
Just adjacent to Lang Cave is Deer Cave. Used to be the largest cave passage in the world before Hang Dong Soon in Vietnam was discovered in 2009. Though facts are still being disputed at this time, Deer Cave is still ostentatious due to its massive size. Deer Cave extends 2 kilometers in length. The southern passage rises 125 meters high passage and has a width of 169 meters. The partially lit entrance chamber is 146 meters high. Capacious enough for 40 Boeing 747 aircraft to fit in. Just the thought of it is mind-blowing enough.
Suddenly there was a startling sound from above the trees. It’s like trees breaking apart or boulders cracking. Then our guide, Jangin yelled “Run!!!”. From the mouth of Lang Cave, we tracked back a few meters towards the plank walk junction where the other path leads to Deer Cave. “What the hell is that?!” I asked Jangin as I was catching my breath. “Maybe wild monkeys!” he said looking up. For a moment there I thought I was in an adventure game or movie, running on plank walks while being chased by rolling boulders. I’m not sure if our young guide was jesting us. But what a start in our exploration of Gunung Mulu National Park.