Starting this post is a photo of me standing in front of MasWings Fokker 50. Later, I found out that MasWings used Twin Otter for Miri-Mulu route few years back (I was using Twin Otter to Bario), but now that they had upgraded it to Fokker 50. Most likely this is because more people are visiting mulu; therefore bigger planes are needed. Twin otter flies at a much lower height and you can see the pinnacles on the journey to mulu. With Fokker, you won’t be able to see the pinnacles. So, you have no choice but to hike to the pinnacles viewpoint. No sweat, no gain.
Arriving Mulu, we took this no-number-plate van to Mulu Headquarter. The van was not in good condition and we had to squeeze together with more than 10 people in it. Thank God it was a short journey. :) A little info, we were on a budget trip where everything had to be self arranged. If you want the easy way out, there are many mulu agents with ready tour packages. The HQ building was a long house with about 10 rooms, a cafeteria, an exbibition room and a souvenior corner. Food was a bit pricy, one meal cost about RM10-RM15. But as they needed to fly the food from miri, so it was reasonably expensive.
The van we took
The big welcome sign in front of HQ
four sharing room
After lunch, we started a 3.4km walk on a boardwalk from headquarter to the Lang’s Cave and Deer Cave. The Lang’s Cave is well known for its beautiful lime stone formations and the Deer Cave has the world largest cave passage. There were many spectacular views in the caves that were breath taking. I can still vividly remember the the “rain shower” that kept pouring from 60 meter high roof near the Garden of Eden in the Lang’s Cave. (Garden of Eden is at one point of the Lang’s Cave where you can see the outside world). For Deer Cave, I think one would always remember Lincoln’s face. In fact, there were too many to be mentioned or elaborated. One needs to be there to admire the creations of nature.
to the Deer Cave and Lang’s Cave
Captures of cave views
Doesn’t it look like Lincoln’s face?
Besides the view, Deer Cave is also the home for bats. Millions of bats will fly out from Deer Cave for night hunting at 5-6pm. We were not that lucky as it was raining cats and dogs when we came out from Deer Cave. We waited until 6pm and there was still no sign of bat coming out. A contented day with not so perfect ending.
The next day, we moved to Camp5 for pinnacles trail hiking. For that, we had to take long boat from headquarter to Kuala Berar. Half way, we stopped by Clearwater Cave and Wind Cave. Clearwater Cave is the longest cave system. Wind cave, of course was named after the strong wind in the cave. I have to admit that I do not remember each and every of the detail, but then visiting these caves and looking at the scenery that was not available in my daily life were definitely eye opener to me.
Long boat parking at headquarter
Ready to take off
At some points, the water level was very low and the boat man had to use a stick to help the boat moving. Since it rained last night, we did not really need to get down and push the boat. Consolation for not able to watch the bats?
And, and we had made a big mistake. In fact, it was our leader’s fault. (yes, yes, blame him :)) We didn’t know that we needed to bring and cook our own food at Camp5. So, we had to stop at a convenient shop to do the shopping. There were not many choices in the convenient shop. We basically swept almost all the food. A photo as evidence. We had Maggie instant noodles(chicken broth and curry flavour), can food, milo, bihun and rice.
At noon, the long boat reached Kuala Berar and again, we had to walk for about 8km to Camp5. Actually it wasn’t a difficult path, but with the rain last night and the heavy baggages, it was not that simple though. And, we had to walk non-stop to elude the hungry leeches.
Arriving Camp5, the Melinau River in front of Camp5 was the big reward for the 8km walking. The water was crystal clear and we couldn’t wait but jumped into the river.
Camp5 has 5 open rooms for trekkers. The rooms have 6-feet-high walls and have no door. Therefore, it was quite cold at night. I rented a ‘blanket’(actually a bedsheet) from the tour guide, but it was not enough to withstand the cold weather. I couldn’t sleep well at night. But still it was better than none. At one end of the Camp, there was a shared kitchen with all the cooking utensils. We had no choice but to cook ourselves. Again, if you are on a package, the tour guide will cook for you. Nice, right? At first, I thought it would be too tiring for us to take care of our daily meals as we had to climb up to the pinnacles trail. But then I was wrong, I had underestimated myself. ;) It was a special experience. I truly enjoyed preparing and cooking the meals. The tour guides were friendly and I had learnt some tips on how to cook with limited equipments from them. They were also kind enough to give me some vegetables/ingredients. P/S: If you are planning to cook yourself, you should do your food purchase in Miri. Food choices are rather limited in Mulu.
At night, the tour guide came to our room and brief us on the next day hiking. He also warned us to take the hiking seriously as some of the members that went up to the top today had not returned to Camp5 yet. It was 8pm at night and it was raining. I decided to sleep so that I could be fully recharged. However, I couldn’t sleep. The tour guide’s warning and today’s group had hit my confidence. I tried to focus on my breathing….. and I fell asleep.
We started very early the next morning, before 7am with uncertain hearts. The trail, from Camp5 to the Pinnacles viewpoint is only 2.4km but rises to 1200 metres. The trail was steep and rocky. The first 900m to the mini pinnacles was pushing our stamina to the limit. Of course we were not satisfied with the mini pinnacles. We moved on after taking a short break. (It was 2 months ago and honestly I could not remember the sweats that i had gone through. Human has short term memory on pains.) I didn't think of giving up, never in my mind. I knew that negative thinking would weaken my determination. We kept moving and thanked God that we managed to reach the first ladder at 1.9km before the time limit. There was a warning sign besides the first ladder. It warned that one should not continue if he reached the point after 11am. If not, you might put yourself or your team members in danger.
Moving on, there was no more steep trails. But, but it was vertical climbing. There were 15 ladders in total and some ropes and you really need to climb with both your hands and legs. I had to watch my steps. One step wrong might cause serious injury. Just when I was about to ask how far we were from the peak, we reached the peak. The peak provides a great viewpoint to the spetacular pinnacles. The pinnacles were razor sharp limestone spikes as shown in the picture below.
First ladder with warning sign
The red warning
Using a rope to climb
The peak was quite different from what I have imagined. I was imagining a flat area but still, there were rocks everywhere. I had to look for a not-so-sharp rock so that I could sit down and enjoy my lunch box. We didn’t spend a lot of time at the peak as we were warned that return trip would be more difficult. How true it was. It was worse as I was not good at hiking down.
That evening was a relaxing one as we had achieved our missions. Everyone showed a tiring but happy face. We left Camp5 and returned to HQ the next morning. We checked with the HQ office but most of the interesting tour packages were full. So, a few of us decided to try our luck again, visiting the bats while a few chose to rest at the hostel. It was definitely not a pleasure to walk such a long distance again after yesterday pinnacles hike. Luckily the bats didn’t disappoint us. Thanks to the good weather as well. Millions of bats came out in groups at about 6pm. First, they formed a circle in front of the cave and then flew away. There was nothing I could complain anymore. We reached the pinnacles peak and, we managed to see the bats flying out from the Deer Cave.
I would strongly recommend Mulu as your next destination. It definitely worths all the hassle, flying from Penang to KL, KL to Miri, then only from Miri to Mulu. Go when you are still young as pinnacles hiking requires certain level of fitness.
Bats flying out
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