Friday, May 22, 2009

Visit To Mulu National Park--Day 2 (Part 1)

This is part of Mulu's limestone complex at dawn. If I could take the photo at a much higher altitute, it would be spectacular.

Before I took a walk in the nearby forests, I came to the riverside first to take this photo of longboats in Melinau River.One of these boats would later take us to the Batu Bungan Penan Settlement and more caves.

The scenes of the misty forests were so mysterious and yet enthralling .It was so exciting to walk there all alone, amongst the towering trees and the morning calls of countless insects and birds.

As the day began to break and the sun getting higher, I retreated to the cafeteria for breakfast. On the way I met this lady (below) from Czech Republic. She travelled solo and was amazed by the beauty of the tropical rainforests.

After breakfast, we assembled in front of the park hq and our guide took us by longboat up the Melinau River for the day's tour.

The river is very clean and clear. Some parts are very shallow, however since we were laden with expensive camera equipment, we were spared to alight from the boat to push it through.

We let a boat full of park guides to overtake us before we arrived at the Batu Bungan Penan Settlement. This Penan settlement has about 200 people who live in a 20-door longhouse and some simple huts like this. (below)

Sarawak has some 10,000 Penans, about 300 of them still lead a completely nomadic life in the jungles of upper Baram and Belaga. They are some of the last true nomads in the world.

Many of the settled Penans here make handicrafts for sale to the tourists. Almost all these items are made from the natural resources collected from the forests and rivers. They include necklaces and bracelets made from beads, baskets of various sizes and designs made from rattan, traditional bamboo musical instruments, miniature blowpipes and many other small souvenir items.

This is a Penan nose flautist who played a melodious tune with a bamboo flute.

Below are some photos of the Penan ladies. The older ones like their Kayan and Kenyah sisters, are having long ears. They however,do not have tattoos on their arms and legs.

After a brief stop here, we proceeded with our journey to the Wind Cave. But first we had to pass by the legendary Batu Bungan, which is a steep limestone hill.Legend has it that long ago a beautiful Penan princess died in hunger and exasperation among the craggy cliff of Batu Bungan while waiting for her lover to return.

Shortly after passing Batu Bungan,we tied the longboat here and this wooden walkway brought us to Wind Cave.

When you enter Wind Cave you could feel a mild, cool wind gushing at you, that's how the name is derived. You will also experience the same effect at several spots inside the cave.

It is a big cave with many wonderful stalacties and stalagmites. Some of the formations on the ceiling look like curtains.

There is a passage inside Wind Cave going to the adjacent Clearwater Cave.Called Clearwater Connection, this route of 4.8 km is only for the most fit adventure caver. It takes 6-8 hours to reach while a boat ride needs only a few minutes.

Only on our short longboat journey to Clearwater Cave did we realize we had missed walking on this walkway built outside Wind Cave. Surely we had also missed the opportunity to take some breathtaking photos of the cliff and the river below.

Next entry I will bring you to Clearwater Cave and the Royal Mulu Resort. Stay tuned!


fufu said...

wow nice blog!! i plan on visiting sibu and hopefully mulu as well... glad to know this blog via bengbeng... =p i am doing the research now... and your blog certainly helps alot ya lol i love nature.... cant wait to get closer to mulu park...

nelson said...

no crocodiles on the river? =P

Philip said...

fufu: Thanks a lot for dropping by and so nice knowing you here. Hope we can meet eventually as I think we share many similar interests.What research are you doing now? You too have a wonderful blog and you are a real traveller and adventurer.

nelson: No body ever mention about croc in GMNP! there should be none there. I have seen a few sunbathing on the river banks in the lower Baram last year.

-eiling- said...

do the penans have electricity at their long houses?

sarawakiana said...

Your photos are awesome!

How wonderful is God's creation in MULU.

Hope it will be preserved and conserved for our future generations.

Anonymous said...

I heard this place is operated by one certain family...making huges losses yearly and govt agency so called partner pumped money heavily to sustain it..any truth in that??? kpenyu

Anonymous said...

The 1st time I went there was when they had private direct flight from kk...and man... the young australian pilot was great..weaving the small aircraft in the valley as if you can touch the walls of the cliffs.

abana said...

Nice to visit your blog when I am 8000+Km away from home.
Be home in 3days time and we have dinner at LOt 10.
Its freezing cold in Auckland.
Good pix you took in Mulu/

Philip said...

eiling: Good question...but I don't know about that! Probably there is because it was built by the government as a "show longhouse"

Sarawakiana: I think there is no question about the conservation and preservation part in GMNP.Both the government and Sarawak Forestry have been doing a great job there.

Kpenyu:It's true that the "Tourism Zone" which is about 5% of the total area of GMNP is managed by a private company. Making money or not...haha, I really don't know.

Anonymous: Yes, last time the Twin Otter pilots did a great job by flying low and into the valley so that passengers could see the Pinnacles clearly. They sometimes even repeated the the applause of all passengers.But I think that is quite dangerous.

Abana:Thanks so much for commenting here although you are 8000 km away! Hope you have taken tons of nice and interesting pictures in NZ. Can't wait to see them and hear tales from you.