SARAWAK (MALAYSIAN BORNEO)

Sarawak, located in Malaysian Borneo, is diverse and culturally unlike any other region of Malaysia. From the intriguing colonial base of Kuching, you can can leap into Sarawak’s main attractions: nature and adventure. The list of adventure possibilities is as long as a Sarawak proboscis monkey’s nose, with everything from river kayaking, climbing and hiking through the region’s many forests on offer to get your adrenalin pumping.

We spent the night at the same hostel in Kota Kinabalu and in the morning we were up again for a MASwings flight to Mulu. The only other way to reach this remote area is by river from Miri which takes around 12 hours so this was out of the question for us.

mass Wings flight to Mulu
MASwings flight to Mulu
River as the only road
River as the only road

 

Mulu Airport
Mulu Airport

 

GUNUNG MULU NATIONAL PARK

Mulu national park is located near Miri, Sarawak and it’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most famous for its caves and equatorial rainforest setting this truly was a place worth seeing.

Canopy among the birds
Canopy among the birds
Hi there
Hi there
Walking paths are all over the Mulu Park
Walking paths are all over the Mulu Park

We visited Deer cave that is one of the largest single cave passages in the world-it’s over 2 kilometers long and around 90 meters high and wide. The caves are dark, moist and slippery and by the time you make it to the sunlight you are covered in guano (excrement of cave-dwelling bats).

Waiting for the bats to come
Waiting for the bats to come out
Deer Cave
Deer Cave

Happy to be out of the bat infested cave you have a new animal to be cautious of-leaches!! They are all over the leaves and walking thru the jungle there is no possible way to avoid them.

Any resemblance?
Any resemblance?

They are pretty small and fast so before you realize they are under your trousers. The end of the cave path lead to Garden of Eden where a hole in the cave roof lets in a ray of light which allows the rich green vegetation to thrive.

Garden of Eden at the end of the Langs cave
Garden of Eden at the end of the Langs cave

This really was a nice view. After visiting the Deer cave we went to Lang’s Cave. Relatively small compared to other caves its rock formations (stalactites and stalagmites) are well worth seeing.

Very slippery walk
Very slippery walk
There's some climbing to do
There’s some climbing to do
And decending too
And decending too
Langs Cave
Langs Cave
One of the caves
One of the caves
Clearwater Cave
Clearwater Cave
The trekk to the waterfall was really demanding
The trekk to the waterfall was really demanding
Waterfall was just around the corner
Waterfall was just around the corner
They were everywhere
They were everywhere

We stayed a night at Royal Mulu Resort that is the only accommodation available onsite even though it’s quite expensive. We were here only one night and then moved into the Park Headquarters Chalet.

Beer and bed, please
Beer and bed, please
After looong day
After looong day
Making plans for tomorrow
Making plans for tomorrow
Lets roll out
Lets roll out
Big big trees everywhere
Big big trees everywhere
Having fun despite the rain
Having fun despite the rain
Mulu National Park
Mulu National Park

 

CAMP 5 IN GUNUNG MULU NATIONAL PARK AND CLIMBING THE PINNACLES

Down the river to start the Trail
Down the river to start the Trail

In the morning we were back on the road so to speak. We decided to climb the famous Pinnacles at Mulu. You can organize the track yourself but you’ll need a guide to take you to the top. The Pinnacles consist of a series of 45 meter high, razor-sharp limestone spikes that tower above the surrounding vegetation. All though popular tracks in the park, this is by no means an easy one. We were in a pretty good shape and were dead exhausted after climbing it. The trail is very steep and there are ladders and robes helping you get thru almost vertical areas. Camp 5 is 2-3 hours walk thru jungle terrain and it’s a base camp for anyone attempting to climb the Pinnacles. The Camp provides basic accommodation with cooking facilities.

 

The accommodation is really simple-there is a thin mattress on the hard wooden floor and a mosquito net. Be aware that unless your tour here is organized you will need enough food and water to last you all your stay here.

Camp 5
Camp 5

Thankfully we were prepared and broad enough food and snacks with us to have a cooked meal every day.

Dinner
Dinner

 

Night friend
Night friend

As for the water-you can gather it from the near Melinau River and boil it to make it safe for drinking. The river runs in front of the camp and it provides a great (but freezing cold) swim after a long walk.

Jungle Jane
Jungle Jane

Early next morning we were set to go.

Early morning before the climb
Early morning before the climb

The trail to the Pinnacles is 2, 4 kilometers in length and rises 1,200 meters from Camp 5 to the viewpoint. The trek is very difficult and will last anywhere from 5 to 10 hours depending on your fitness level. Considering you depart base camp at around 7 a.m. there is almost completely dark by the time you come back. You have to carry all your water and food supplies.

Half way to the top
Half way to the top
The only way is up
The only way is up

The track is very dangerous and you encounter quite a few of rain showers on the way so it makes it slippery too. Our group was one of the fastest one and we were back in the camp just before the sunset.

Quick break
Quick break

There were still people coming down when we were going to bed. This track is difficult at day, attempting to climb it at night is nothing other than a dead trap! The view from the top? Have to say that for us, it just wasn’t worth the climb, and many other tourists shared our opinion. But once you cool down and forget the exhaustion, you’ll have a great memory to shre with your loved ones:)

View of the Pinacles
View of the Pinnacles
We made it
We made it

We decided to leave Mulu National Park with Headhunter’s trail.

Map of the Trail
Map of the Trail
Down the river to start the Trail
Down the river to start the Trail

The trek is organized and it combines upriver travel, jungle tracking and an overnight stay at an Iban longhouse.

Monkey Bridge ahead
Monkey Bridge ahead

The trail itself follows the route taken by Kayan headhunting parties who paddled up the Melinau River to Melinau Gorge. It takes around 4-5 hours from Camp 5 track and another 3-4 hours travel by longboat to reach a longhouse.

Not so easy to cross it
Not so easy to cross it

eaches couldn't penetrate this line of defence
Leaches couldn’t penetrate this line of defence
At the end of The Headhunters Trail
At the end of The Headhunters Trail
Drying our clothes after the Trail
Drying our clothes after the Trail

 

IBAN LONGHOUSE VISIT

We had a great time at longhouse.

Longhouse elders
Longhouse elders
Fixing the fishing nets
Fixing the fishing nets

People, especially children were very excited and they occupied us completely-we weren’t complaining:)

The youngest child in the house
The youngest child in the house

 

Instant friendship
Instant friendship
Longhouse kids
Longhouse kids
How does this work?
How does this work?
Can I keep it?
Can I keep it?

They offered us rich dinner and rice wine that was too strong for our tired bodies:)

Playing cards and drinking rise
Playing cards and drinking rise

 

Evening entertainment
Evening entertainment
Blowpipe
Blowpipe
Limbang Elementary school
Limbang Elementary school
School
School
We were really an attractio
We were really an attraction
School grounds
School grounds
Classroom
Classroom
Our night quarters
Our night quarters

The next morning we were served with breakfast and we were on our way to Limbang.

Breakfast of the champions
Breakfast of the champions

From Limbang we took a 30 minutes flight to Miri. As a second largest city in Sarawak and a birthplace of Malaysia’s petroleum industry, this place is a major tourist destination. Miri is also the main getaway for Loagan Bunut National Park, Lambir National Park, Niah National Park and also a great dive spot. While there we spend 3 days mostly recovering from our jungle experience.

Breakfast
Breakfast
Drying the wet shoes from the Mulu park
Drying the wet shoes from the Mulu park
Longhouse rooms
Longhouse rooms

It rained almost the entire time we were there but we were used to daily rain showers by then so it didn’t really bother us.

Table tenis relaxation
Table tenis relaxation

We stayed at Treetops Lodge ( http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g303998-d1171342-Reviews-Treetops_Lodge-Miri_Miri_District_Sarawak.html). This place was really great. At that time we were the only guests staying there and the owner prepared all the food we wanted. After eating mostly rice and water for the past weeks we couldn’t be happier:) The first day we just relaxed and dry our wet clothes and shoes, the second day we went shopping and a third we took a trip to Miri’s more famous neighbor-Brunei.

 

BRUNEI DARUSSALAM

This country is nothing like the rest of Borneo. Thanks to natural gas and petroleum resources the Sultanate of Brunei is extremely rich country and it’s widely shown. Officially Islamic country it has strict rules of conduct-prohibited alcohol and all non halal meat. We mostly just walked around and admire the country’s massive mosques that were just amazing.

Jame'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque
Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque
Inside the Mosque
Inside the Mosque
World’s-Largest-Palace-Istana-Nurul-Iman-Sultans-Palace
World’s Largest Palace – Istana Nurul Iman, Sultan’s Palace
Jame'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque
Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque
The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin mosque, also known as the floating mosque
The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin mosque, also known as the floating mosque

After a long day we drove back to our guest house and packed our bags yet again. The next morning we were off boarding AirAsia flight to Kuala Lumpur and from there on to Perhentian Island. We’ve chosen this to be our final destination before leaving Malaysia and heading back home and we made the right decision.

4 thoughts on “SARAWAK (MALAYSIAN BORNEO)”

  1. I actually think it would be really interesting, if you had adequate time, to take the river from Miri. I love the photo of it, from up above it looks so peaceful. I’m also in awe of the photo you posted of Deer Cave! There’s something really beautiful about the light in that picture – and I don’t think I’d really mind the bats too much!

    1. Hi Chris,
      Deer Cave was actualy known as the largest cave passage in the world until the discovery of Sơn Đoòng cave in Vietnam. Since we are comming from Slovenia which is home to some world famouse caves like Postojna Cave or Skocijan Caves we weren’t THAT impressed by this cave formations, but still it’s a beautiful thing of nature.

  2. I agree with Chris, I was thinking the same about taking the river. This is an amazing travel blog. You’ve included so many pictures, and have obviously put a lot of work into recording your adventures. As for this one – leeches, bat guano, what more could you ask for in a vacation! Seriously, it looks like a great time – so beautiful, and the family you met seemed charming.

    1. Hi Geaniemarie,
      Thx for your kind opinion about our blog. It’s really great to get back so much possitive comments about what we are doing. Regarding your river trip idea…It is actually possible to do the Mulu-Miri rout on the river, but the whole journey can take from one to several days depending on the connections. So plane was obvious choice.

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