To feel and experience some of the wonders of nature, one need not travel far as the state of Sarawak has one of the world’s best nature and culture to offer. It is really strange how many Malaysian make an effort to travel the world around but are not at all interested to see what our own has to offer and what many foreigners pay top money to come and have a taste of our rich and diverse nature and culture.
Many Malaysian may not be aware that one of Mulu caves, the Deer Cave is, or rather was the biggest cave in the world and the Clearwater Cave has the world’s longest water stream running through it. The title of the biggest cave in the world was recently taken over by a new cave found in Vietnam. According to Andy Eavis, president of the International Union of Speleology, the world caving authority, based in France and the same person who discovered Deer cave, Deer cave has indeed been demoted by the one found in Vietnam. Other than still having the longest underground water stream in Clearwater cave, Sarawak Chamber still holds the title of having the biggest cave chamber in the world according to Eavis.
All the caves are well maintained with information boards, walkways, handrails and lights to guide you around. However it is wise to bring your own torchlight as there are some places that are not lighted up and it is a shame if you missed out some of the extraordinary stalagmite and stalactite formation as well as bats and insects that live inside the caves. One of the caves not to be missed is the Deer cave where you can see Abraham Lincoln’s face formation. This is also the cave where bats fly out for meals at sun down. There’s a bat observatory not far from the entrance of the cave where you can sit and enjoy the fabulous dragon-like formation of the bats flying out from the cave. The park has also installed CCTV cameras inside the cave where you can observe them from the TV in the observatory.
The recommended place to stay in Mulu is the Royal Mulu Resort. It is situated about 10 minutes’ drive from the airport and the spacious well designed resort is built on wooden stilts, three metres above the ground. Rooms are linked by a series of wooden walkways and are perfect for nature observation or after meals walk. There are small caves located along the wooden walkways and is a good preview to get your enthusiasm started before you venture into the bigger caves. The Resort stands on the banks of the Melinau River and it is where the resort can arrange for long boats to take you upstream for breath-taking landscape scene as well as to visit the Clearwater and wind caves. The boat ride is about 25 minutes to Wind Cave and during the dry season, you may have to get down from the long boat at certain low water level areas and push the boat. This itself is a fun experience.
Royal Mulu Resort is a great place to unwind. Food is a bit pricey due to the fact that most of it is flown in from other parts of Sarawak. The resort has most amenities required, like swimming pool, gym, bar and convenient store. At night, during dinner, there are cultural dance as well as blow pipes demonstrations where guest are encouraged to try out the traditional dance and also get a chance to try out the blow pipe. Rooms are all air conditioned with water heater, TV and coffee / tea making facility. Tour of the Mulu National park can also be arranged with the park and transport is provided right up to the entrance of the well maintain National park.
We are indeed fortunate to have passionate nature guides who are ever willing to share information pertaining to everything found inside the National park. From the huge variety of insects, animals, plants and trees to the longest jungle canopy walk. The Mulu Canopy Skywalk at 480 metres is the longest tree-based walkway in the World. As you walk among the ferns and vines 15 – 25 metres above the forest floor and river you will enjoy a unique opportunity to get closer to the rainforest.
The uniqueness of the national park and the friendly staffs at Royal Mulu Resort has encouraged me to return again. There is just so much to explore and for photography enthusiast, this is a place definitely not to be missed.
Text and photos by: Justin Hong