A quick swim at the hotel swimming pool, collection of a packed snack, water and poncho from the hotel and then back on the bus to be reversed over the hotel bridge to go to Mulu National Park.
Our guide was still Phillipie but this time we were joined by a Japanese Couple who clearly were not interested in staying with us to be walked through the park to the next set of caves. We also picked up midway to the caves the 4 Japanese tourists from the morning tour who had, in-between times gone on a canopy walk and who professed themselves to be tired!
Eleanor enjoyed spotting the bugs and insects living on the handrail beside the boardwalk. We had been clearly told that the walkway was slippy but that we shouldn’t hold onto the wooden rail because we could see insects.
From red millipedes, to Praying Mantis’ to hairy caterpillars and other unidentifiable scary looking insects we were fascinated by what we saw. Martin and I agreed that the majority of what we saw on that
walk we had only seen in glass boxes in a zoo. Eleanor of course was the right height to see and spot all sorts.
After a quick loo stop, we ascended to Langs Cave, the smallest of all caves we had done that day.
The limestone shapes were astounding to see and I am sure that even when I upload my pictures from my big camera it will not do justice to the beauty of what we saw, partly because the light was not great.
From Langs we went to Deer Cave. This is the largest cave passage open to the public in the world (I think there is now one in Vietnam that has superseded it now but not open to the public) Regardless of whether it is or isn’t the biggest. It was awesomely, tremendously huge. 2km in length and 174m high.
This is the cave that is home to 2.5-3.5 million bats of 12 species. The floor was slippy not just because of the rain but because of the bat poo. Again we were advised not to hold onto the handrail, not because of the insects but of the guana (bat poo) which stinks and coats everything in the cave.
This cave was immense. Again the tour was organised that the paths did a great big loop. And whilst the cave had had only 1 entrance/exit, there had been a rock fall and now 2 caves have joined together to make a back entrance and out into what is known as the Garden of Eden.
At no time did Eleanor complain about the amount of walking we did over the day (though she did for the last kilometre going back to the bus). We kept her going with water, skittles and breakfast bars. Eleanor is also at an age where (we hope) she will remember her experiences. On our walk to the caves we saw one child, about three years of age, fast asleep in her father’s arms. Another child aged 18 months in a back carrier and another one aged 5 complaining about the walking and finding the caves boring. Now don’t get me wrong, we have come back to China and have picked a local beauty spot to see out our holiday and when we want to go for a walk she complains it is boring!!! But Borneo is potentially a once in a life time experience, and I am glad that we waited until now to do it for her to be really aware of what she is seeing and doing and to appreciate it. Though if all our holidays are to experience amazing things she may start to think these things are the “norm”. Only when she is older I think will she truly understand and appreciate what we have done.
Anyway, about 5.30pm we departed the Deer Cave. I was anxious that we would miss the mass exodus which can sometimes happen as early as 4.30pm. But I had no need to worry.
The viewing area to see the bats was like a horseshoe. We got out our packed Marriott sandwich, asked the guide where we should sit, and sat down on the right hand side of the horseshoe to wait.
Just after 6pm there was a gasp. We looked up and saw a narrow stream of black creatures. Initially we thought they might be birds but they kept on coming. It is said they devour over 30 tonnes of mosquitos every night (Lonely Planet guide who got it from somewhere else). The bats come out like a corkscrew which is apparently to escape the bat hawks that wait around the cliff face for the bats exit. Neither we nor the birds were disappointed. We were open mouthed for 45 minutes and still the bats kept on coming. An awesome sight at dusk.
We returned back with our guide taking in a bit of a night walk. On the way back we saw bigger insects. The green viper high up in the tree that we had seen on the way to the caves was still high in the tree on our way back. We saw frogs, a yellow kingfisher, a massive stick insect with a leg missing and a monstrous spider again with a leg missing. In the case of the stick insect they regrow the leg but it isn’t as strong or as big as the one it replaces.
The sound of the rainforest at night is deafening. On more than one occasion we (and the guide) had to cover our ears because of some creature’s shrieking.
Finally back to the hotel for a bigger dinner and to sleep. Our flight out to Miri and then Kuala Lumpur wasn’t until 14.30 the next day (Monday) so we had a relaxing morning. I wrote some postcards, put stamps on them and stupidly brought them back to China with me!
This is a holiday we won’t forget.
We are now in Qiandaohu (1000 island lake) 2 hours from Hangzhou. The views are lovely but my big camera has run out of charge. Thank goodness it lasted the Malaysian Holiday!
Thanks folks for reading.