Thursday, May 21, 2009

Visit To Mulu National Park--Day 1

The new ATR-50 at Miri Airport about to fly to Gunung Mulu National Park (GMNP)

MASwings's air hostesses are not only very charming but also courteous and helpful. They serve packet drinks during the short flight of just about 20 minutes from Miri to Mulu.

Mulu's airport allows the landing of Fokker and ATR-50 aircrafts . There are two daily return flights, one each in the morning and afternoon.We took the morning flight which departed at 9.20.

Less than 1 km from the airport is this welcoming sign. GMNP is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the only one in Sarawak and one of the four in Malaysia.

This suspension bridge across the Melinau River leads you to GMNP headquarters (below) where all visitors are required to register themselves. A Tiger Orchid, considered the king of all orchids is blooming with beautiful flowers in front of the park hq.

This signage tells you the walking distance between the park hq and the Clearwater Cave, Wind Cave and Moonmilk Cave.There is a good network of raised plankwalks and cement paths going to the show caves which also include Deer Cave and Langs Cave.

Trekking under the canopy of the tropical rainforests is quite relaxing, especially if you do not have to rush. Along the way there are so many interesting flora and fauna to see and discover.

One of the most beautiful flowers in Mulu is the Slipper Orchid. It is however, rare and not easy to spot.

GMNP receives about 20,000 visitors each year. More than half of the visitors are foreign tourists from all over the world.The above group is Vietnamese from Perth, Australia.

It is one of the best managed parks in Sarawak. Even the long plankwalks winding through the forests are kept clean at all times. Two workers are seen here sweeping away the fallen leaves from the plankwalk.

On the way to Deer Cave, you will come across this Mulu Summit Trial at your left side.The 24 km trail is only for the very fit and it will normally take you 4 days to scale the 2,377 m mountain, the second highest in Sarawak.

A bunch of wild berries along the way...just wonder why no insect or bird want to eat them.

After almost an hour of trekking, we saw this limestone mountain and our guide told us that we were almost reaching Langs Cave. We had now walked 3 km.

Langs Cave is the smallest of the 4 show caves, but the limstone formations here are considered the most beautiful.The cave is brightly lit up in most areas for easy viewing.

Deer Cave, until recently, has the world's largest cave passge. It is home to 3 million bats and swiftlets. 12 different species of bats live here, the largest concentration and largest number of different species of bats living together in a single cave.

The above photo shows part of the entrance of the Deer Cave. Just see how a man (white shirt at bottom left) dwarfs with the awesome cave.

Don't you think that America should come here to adopt this cliff? God has miraculously installed its first president, Abraham Lincoln, at one of the cave's openings at Deer Cave.

This is the bat observatory outside Deer Cave.Between 5.30 pm to 7 pm, here is the only place on earth where you see 2-3 millions bats swarming out from the cave in search of food. They eat tons of insects every night...that is perhaps why there are very few mosquitoes in Mulu! A set of 5 special cameras were installed recently inside Deer Cave and using infra-red lighting, visitors can now enjoy on the TV screens at the observatory, live vision of tropical cave habitats. This facility, aptly named Mulu Bat-cam, is also the world's first and it was officially launched by Prince Albert II of Monaco on April 20, 2009.

Some describe it as flying dragon, some call it flying ribbon....this natural phenomenon of "bat exodus" is indeed a rare and spectacular sight.

It was already 7.30 pm when we returned to our hostel near the park hq.After a quick shower we had dinner outside the park at a privately run canteen. The food was quite nice, especially the jungle fern cooked with wild zinger flower.Within the same building as our hostel is the Mulu Discovery Centre (above) which also houses a resource library and a video presentation room.All the information you need about Mulu is available here on the walls, in the video presentation or in the printed materials.

And there are also nice gifts as souvenirs (above).A cafeteria here serves both very delicious local and western food and sell all basic stuff you need for jungle trekking. However all things here are priced like those in a 4-star hotel. I retired to bed early, in anticipation of an early morning walk in the nearby virgin forests the next day before proceeding to our next destinations....Batu Bungan Penan Settlement, Wind Cave and Clearwater Cave.


Yan said...

So beautiful! Thank you for taking me on this breathtaking journey! How great is His creation!

Nelson said...

Thanks for posting GMNP. I had just been to Mulu caves online! =) The photos taken were spectacular and I hope the newspapers will publish this (local, national or even straits times of singapore or New york times!) =) This will further promote Mulu and Miri as the new tourist destinations of Sarawak apart from Kuching. Now Jetstar or Tiger Airway will not hesitate to Miri directly from Singapore.

Next destination: Niah Cave? I think this one is spectacular too with its history of human inhabitations since 40 000 years ago.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

I feel as if I have been through a wonderful Mulu trip.

Excellent quality photos.

Waiting to see more photos of God's creation - echoing what Yan has just said.

Bengbeng said...

thank you for the wonderful first day tour. fabulous pics

Philip said...

Yan: You haven't been to Mulu? You must's a great place.

Nelson: GMNP is already widely promoted nationally and internationally through various means.Certainly more direct flights to Miri will be an added advantage.My last visit to Niah was like 2 years ago and I had posted some pictures on it in March, 2008. Definately I will visit both GMNP and Niah Cave again in future.

Sarawakiana:Sure you have been to Mulu's worth to go again, and again.

Bengbeng: Thanks. Hope we can go there together one day.