Tropical Travels Part 10

It was nice to be back at the Mulu Hostel. As basic as it is, and as awesome as Camp 5 was, there is something about being able to have a hot shower and meal!

We both decided to try pancakes for breakfast this day. It turned out to be a mistake – the pancakes were served with honey, which the hundreds of bees in the area really seemed to appreciate! I eventually gave up and ate mine dry, leaving my open honey container on a different table to draw the bees away. Matthew had a difficult time eating his breakfast – but we both made it through without being stung.

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First on the agenda for the day was the Canopy Tour. Mulu isn’t the place to go to see large animals. It is great for snakes, spiders, lizards and bats, though. The purpose of the canopy tour was to see the different types of trees from a high perspective. It isn’t hard to sell ideas like this to me – the world looks great from high up!

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The canopy tour starts about 30m above the ground, and progressively gets higher towards the middle – as the ground below gets lower and the walkway climbs. At its highest, it is about 50m above the ground, according to our guide. In the middle, it is a bit shaky.

Not much commentary on the trip – it is very reasonably priced, and well worth doing if you have the time. But I would take any of the caves over it.

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In the afternoon, we found ourselves back on the boats, but this time with harnesses and helmets. We were off to visit Racer Cave. The cave is named after a snake that lives in cracks in the cave and eats bats as they fly past. I am not sure how many places on earth this snake is found, and google didn’t provide any helpful answers when I asked – but nonetheless, it isn’t common.

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This was our first non-show cave, unlike the other caves, this cave included no lighting and now boardwalks. My photos in the cave aren’t amazingly clear, but once again – this is due to limited light.

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The cave starts with a scramble which would be very easy if it wasn’t wet. There is a rope to pull on. This is followed by squeezing through a narrow gap.

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We saw a racer snake, a “death centipede” (I am still not convinced that that is its actual name, I think our guide was just trying to scare us) and a lot of large spiders in the next cavern.

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We also saw a fossilised shell in the cave wall.

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The next sequence was a descent, which we did by pulling on a rope. The cave floor was very slippery.

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The section that followed was easy ground for a while. Since we were all on flat ground, I asked our guide if we could turn our headlamps off and see how dark it actually is. I was surprised how long everyone left their lamps off for – it was a few minutes. Naturally it was completely dark, with no light source in any direction.

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A fairly simple climb brings you to the last major obstacle – a 15m drop. Luckily you only have to descend 5m, and then step across the abyss before climbing the opposing side and walking through the final section.

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I realise the focus on this shot is poor – but this was the best shot I managed to get of the numerous massive spiders that live in the cave.

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The final section was slippery, but not difficult. We got a selfie at the turnaround point – I love how the background is completely black! The end of the cave has never been found, so no one really knows how long the tunnels are, but going that deep into a cave like this was quite something!

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The walk back out was along the same route. I decided to free-climb the 5m section we had downclimbed on the way in – most people just pulled on the rope. Our guide had us on a rope, but he didn’t have any form of belay in place, so falling was not an option.

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Everyone managed to get out safely – and overall it was a great way to spend an afternoon!

Day 21

Matthew was clearly tired, so we decided to take it easy on our last full day at Mulu. The only adventure cave trip for the day was Clearwater Connection, but seeing as I am not very strong in the water, and Matthew needed a break – we decided to give it a miss.

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Instead we decided to take a leisurely stroll to Paku Falls. When he said he wanted a day to rest, I don’t think he meant an 8km hike – but anyway!

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The waterfall is about 8m high, and the spot is best known for swimming. We sat in the lookout above the falls for a few hours. A few people passed by, but, for the most part, we had the jungle to ourselves.

That afternoon, we got the key for the treetop tower, and decided to sit up there and see what we could see. The tower is surprisingly high, with roughly 12 levels of stairs to ascend, so it should be around 48m high.

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We didn’t see much during the day, but at night there were bats all over the place. A bat caught a moth right infront of my eyes!

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Day 22

Our final morning in Mulu – we had done what we wanted to do, so we just had to find something to do before the flight. So we returned to the tower and sat there for a few hours. He had lunch at the restaurant – they make an amazing sweet and sour chicken, which we had to have one last time.

Crossing the bridge to leave the reserve for the last time:

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Our flight was a bit late, and curiously two different planes were at the airport at the same time.

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Our flightwas mostly empty. Unlike the last time, this flight was directly back to Kota Kinabalu. Leaving Mulu, I was reminded how beautiful the area actually is. But at the same time – a week was plenty, we didn’t need any more time there. And heading back to the “real world” meant a few advantages – phone signal and ice cream being the most notable!

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We got a Grab back to Borneo Backpackers, checked back into our room and went out for supper. We bought some essential supplies at the shops – including chocolate, biscuits and ice cream. If you aren’t eating ice cream, are you even on holiday?

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