28 July 2010

Mulu: The Journey Continues

LEAVING the Park HQ towards the Pinnacles would require you to go on a long boat ride along the Litut River.
One of the park rangers was so kind to offer himself to take this photo for us.
Terima kasih pakcik! Hehe. I think the boat operators were being smart by making a stopover at a Penan settlement on the river bank of Litut River.
And thinking back of it now it was quite ridiculous to expect their kampung to be something like this.
THIS IS 2010. Of course a kampung like that is a thing of the past now! What was I thinking? LOL.
The stopover was aimed at ‘seducing’ you into buying any of their local handcrafts. I just thought it’d be wiser for them to stop on the way back considering those who are heading to Pinnacles wouldn’t want to bring anything extra on their bags. No no.
It was probably the only place where you could see a bamboo flute being blown on the nostrils. Yes, nostrils! 
Do it at home and you'll pass out after a short while. Confirm. Being literally in the middle of nowhere, I couldn’t help but questioning from somewhere in the back of my mind – what does the future hold for these people here?
So, getting back on the boat later, we were led to another stopover.
The stopover would bring you to a tour to the Clear Water Cave (Gua Air Jernih) and Wind Cave (Gua Angin). It’s always wise to for the Wind Cave first and you’ll know why later.
Just to tell you guys that contrary to most beliefs, tours in Mulu are actually very grandparent-friendly. All the four main caves in Mulu are easily walk-able that you can actually bring your granpa and grandma along if they want.
A tour to the Wind Cave is limited to a number of people at one time so you’d have to expect a little bit of waiting around.
We’re talking about half to one hour but with so much craziness going around, time with the ladies flew by in a whiz.
And what we didn’t know was the fact that just under the wooden platform that we were standing on was an ancient graveyard with piles of bones were still visible to see. o.O
I actually didn’t see any. I was just being nice to the guide. Hehe. And I don’t know why - wherever there’s a hole, there’s always something like this sticking out at its entrance.   
So, the Wind Cave turned out to be my favorite cave among all the four main caves in Mulu.
It is full of beautiful stalagmites (floor upwards) and stalactites (ceiling downwards) and some of them have combined to form a number of columns.
Most of them are just so slim and look so vulnerable I actually found myself tip-toeing my way along the walk board.
I mean, a single pillar like this would take thousands of years if not millions to form into this size.
The guide told us how he had been working with Mulu Park for more than 15 years and he hadn’t seen an inch of growth in any of the pillars!
There were just so many rock formations inside the Wind Cave and part of the fun was to associate them with something.
But then, some of them do really have the shapes of something such as this hand sticking out from the wall.
And I was so sorry for this eagle here. She lost its way inside the dark and never found her way out EVER again.
And the girls were ridiculous. I licked the Sydney Opera House once and now they wanted me to lick everything. [They did say no touching but they didn’t say no licking mahhh! See, they are so evil!]
So.. The Wind Cave was just so beautiful and somehow romantic with all the dim lights I actually overheard one of the ladies saying she wouldn’t mind tying her knot of marriage there. o.O OK!
Coming out from the Wind Cave it was time to go to the other cave – The Clear Water Cave. The journey took us to one of the most picturesque trails I’ve ever been to.
Walking under the weirdly shaped rocks, there were times when I felt more like being in another country. You see, I always underestimate this beloved country of ours. Shame on me. And shame on you people! LOL!
The surroundings along the trail was just so beautiful I really wished Mulu was in Sabah and not in Sarawak so I could always drive up there to get back to its beauty any day any weekend. Be it 5 cent per liter up for the petrol, I still don’t mind.
And a little bit of a teaser for us – the smaller version of Pinnacles! Wohooo! *Excitement intensified.
The Clear Water Cave wouldn’t give itself up to you just like that without giving you at least something of a challenge.
If you think the ladder up to the Batu Cave in KL was designed to make all the nuts in your knees go loose, wait until you come to the Clear Water Cave. It doesn’t just make your nuts go loose, it even makes your head go nuts. LOL!
But then a tour to Clear Water Cave is something that you wouldn’t want to miss out on. Welcoming you at the entrance are these spears of rocks jotting out from its ceiling as if bearing some kind of warning or something.
Note the single-leaf plants. You wouldn't see them anywhere else but in Mulu.
And everybody has a reason to pick Celcom over Digi or Maxis – Celcom would bring you even to the furthest corner of the country. I guess the yellow bloated man had lost its way somewhere.
The Clear Water Cave that I found out was consisted of two smaller caves with one of them being The Lady Gaga Cave.
OK, it was just Lady Cave then. The reason why they called it the Lady Cave is this.
Oh well, I’d say Lady Cave is not that bad for a cave although it doesn’t have as much of the wow as the Wind Cave does. IT is so easily walk-able around though and the walkway is just so dry you wouldn’t have to worry about slipping off the track.
And… the Clear Water Cave doesn’t lack the romance that the Wind Cave has. A little bit of flickered light over these rocks here would cast such a heart-warming projection of a couple kissing passionately on the wall.
And you know how anything associated with romance would make any lady go gaga.
They were actually jumping on their feet. :-P
How sweet...Ahaks! Then we proceeded to the other section of the cave.
This time, we were really going so down under.
We were told by the guide that these protruding rocks had been growing from the surface of the wall and towards the light at the entrance. He actually likened it with the process of photosynthesis for plants – you know, the interaction towards light for survival.
It was just so weird to me but of course I made myself look as if I believed.
Although the rule would require every visitor to any of the Mulu Caves to strictly stay on the walk board, we were thankful that the guide would break the rule once in a while just to let us take a closer look at the micro2 things on the walls.
And sure enough, some of the elements on the walls require a very close look to really see them in details such as these ‘little fingers’ that are weirdly called the Moon-milk – a growth that has something to do with bacterial process.
Apparently the descending walk led us to a bridge that would then take us across a roaring river and it is like soooooo underground! How cool is that? And river sooooo dooown under! It’s like underneath the earth!
And the walk board would take us past a light well, the only source of light in the whole darkness of this section of the cave. This section is actually too wet to be covered with anything electrical so the inexistence of lights would make a torch light so useful to any visitor here.
At the end of walk board these stairs that would take you down to the river – whose clear water is what the cave is named after.
Cold, wet, dark and a bit scary, I actually couldn’t wait to get out of there.
Just down the grueling stairs from the Clear Water cave is this beautiful river that looks almost like a filming location in one of those fairy tale movies.
It was just the kind of river that you’d want to have in the backyard of your house so that you can go and take a swim every day of the week.
What a perfect view to have for a short break over lunch.
You see, whenever a group of ladies go on a trip, there are always the bullies and the bullied and this picture tells it all.
I especially took pity for this lady here. She was forced to take the food from the bags on the very other end of the boat while the rest just looked on.
Huhu. Pity her. Hehe. And ohh, I’d always been fascinated by the beauty of Rajah Brooke in many books that I read ever since I was a kid. Hailed as the most beautiful butterfly in Malaysia, I had actually never seen any of it I almost thought it was another thing of the past for this country whose wildlife is worryingly fast diminishing. I took my very first glimpse of them right here in Mulu.
Rajah Brooke is not easy to catch on camera because they seem to have this tendency of shying away whenever you come near to them. I had to sneak behind a tree to catch this picture of them here perching on the walkway to the toilet. It was ridiculous but it was worth it.
They don’t really perch on that much. They fly most of the time. I was told that the only thing that would make them perch on is salt. I think the salty urine that stayed on the shoes of people that come out from the toilet had somehow done the trick for me.
It was then time to go back on the boat ride and continued our journey up the Litut River towards Camp 5.
People in Mulu really celebrate life as much as we do.
The rest of the boat ride was actually so fun I couldn’t help but imagining a whole set of camera filming on us to be featured in another advert for Cuti Cuti Malaysia.
Marching against the flow of the river, they boat handler (apart from the boatman) was all out to make sure the boat stayed on balance.
It looked ridiculous to see how the ladies are goyang kaki while the boat handler fought very very hard to make sure those goyang kaki ladies don’t get thrown out of the boat. LOL!
Can you see those faces? Those smiles of contentment? Erkkk! But then, considering how EACH of us had to pay RM80, I really thought we paid more than we should for the boat ride considering how it doesn’t even take us right to the Camp 5. Instead, they’d ‘throw’ you out of the boat together with all your bags at a place called Kuala Litut.
No jetty no nothing.
Then from there we had to bring our sacks to an 8KM of jungle trek towards the Camp 5. Just bear in mind that this trekking is totally UNGUIDED and UNGUARDED. If anything jumped on you along the way, you’d only have yourself to defend for yourself. LOL!
But fret not for this part of the trip is all flat and the trail is well-indicated so it is quite unlikely for you to get lost.

I DON’T remember seeing any single signage of direction but the trail is actually so apparent with most of the trail is paved with pebble stones.

8KM is quite a distance especially when you have food stuffs and bulky make-up accessories in your bags. But then, you are in no rush to reach Camp 5 so just take your sweet time to look around because they are just so many interesting things to see.

Good thing about coming into a jungle on a rainy season is the existence of so many mushrooms of different types and they are just so fascinating to see.
Last time I found this brown mushroom was when I went on a jungle trek to Jarum Penitih in Terangganu and I was told it was good for sex-drive boost. Unguided and unguarded, I took my chance this time by silently slipping a handful of it into my pocket.

Erkkkkk! Of course that was a joke.!I wouldn’t kacau the nature setting just to be good in bed okeyyyy?! I’d rather go crooked than spoiling something like from the Mother of Nature :-P

And I was pretty sure this fruit here was edible but I didn't want to take the risk. I could be wrong. I had a long way to go.
With so much licking going on, I was lucky they didn't ask me to lick at this wet little creature here.
or even worse, this. o.O
The only problem in this trail is probably to find a good spot to land you butt down especially when you want to keep your butt dry. There is not a single hut or anything like benches along the way so you’ll just need to be a little bit creative to find a right place to unburdened your back and regain your strength.

We were quite lucky that it didn’t rain all the way so we were spared from having to slip into a rain coat and turn into a bunch of walking sacks.

We made our second and actually the last stop here on the riverbank of this beautiful river.

Again the temptation. I could almost see myself squirming in pleasure inside the crystal clear water. Yeah, SQUIRMING is the word. LOL!

And right after the stop is an uphill trail, probably the only uphill trail in the whole 8KM.

at awaited us ahead was far more challenging though- A climb over a towering wall! Wohoooo!

Hehe. Not really. It was a giant cluster of weirdly shaped rocks that looked more like a concrete stump and probably has been there for many thousand years. The fig trees that 'perched' on it and actually wrapped it up with their roots reminded me of the fig trees at the Angkor Wat in Cambodia. It's amazing how the nature takes it own course within such a long period of time.
Somehow I got attracted by this fig tree here. It has that spiral complexity of errrrr, human genome? Whatever. LOLz.
Oh well, 8KM is quite a long distance for a walk when you’ve got a heavy sack pressing down on you it was just so understandable that we all felt relieved to know we had the last kilometer to go.

The happy face :-P And finally…………………………………

Camp 5! Camp 5 is the very place that would see your dream get fulfilled oR shattered to the ground- the dream that we all shared - the dream of conquering the Pinnacles! So who did it, who didn't? Next post lehhh. hehe.


Murphy said...

Interesting! what are those white yellowish bugs?

Can't wait to see your blog on climbing of Pinnacles. :-) Everyone says it's tough.

**~Pu-3~** said...

Mulu caves!! They're like one of the beautiful places I've been to!! ^^ Is the wind cave the deer cave? Because I remember its my favoarite caves too!

Been there like..7years ago! Hehe the village and the people who blows the flute with their nose. Last time we went there, the person that attracted our attention is the woman who breastfeed her child exposing her breast in public. Everyone were taking picture of her including my dad hahaha.

Btw, ur going to hk? Im afraid i wont talk about it in details this time :P coz i have already posted it lasttym during the 1st time i went there.


Ellen said...

No time to read it completely yet, so I have but one comment...you kan, suka betul jilat benda!

Kelvin said...

Why no one took the eagle out?

JIPP said...

Pu3: I'm ashamed to have come to Mulu long after you did. Hehe. But then it is very close to Brunei. hehe. Thanks for ur entry to Hong Kong. I'm about to check it out.
Ellen: Haha. Licking is better than touching right? errr, what am I talking about. :-D
Kelvin: I tried but it was stuck. LOL!


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