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.
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.
We were riding a modified pick-up truck to take us to our home in Gunung Mulu National Park, the Mulu Marriott Resort & Spa. The painted sceneries of caves, forest, hornbills and more wrapping the truck got me excited on the things we may experience during our stay in this UNESCO world heritage inscribed site. It’s not easy going to this part of Sarawak, Malaysia. On air, only MASwings flies direct from either Kuching or Miri. The long arduous way is by road, boat and a little hike. And what better way to compliment a stay in this nature reserve? Be amidst Borneo’s rainforest.
This plankwalk spanning 3.5km seems to have become part of the primary forest eco-system already having been built more than a decade ago. I can’t help but stop ever so often as we were headed to Niah Cave located inside the Niah National Park in Miri, to look closely at the many critters, like the millipedes, the bugs and slugs that have seem to have found this wooden walkway as their home. On what should have been less-than-an-hour hike, took longer as we marvel at the unsullied forest. What more of the cave that lay ahead?
“It’s all about connecting people.There’s a large concentration of Filipino workers in Miri and we want people to easily connect with their families.” Says Ms Joy Caneba, Executive Vice President and COO of AirAsia Zest during the inaugural ceremony in Miri Airport of AirAsia Zest’s flight from Manila to Miri. A first in the country, the Miri route is also a good alternative entry point to nearby Brunei which is only 30 minutes away from the city. Personally, I am interested to the Miri destination as it is the jump-off to one of UNESCO’s Natural World Heritage Site, the Gunung Mulu National Park.