10: Malaysia > Sarawak > Mulu > Cave of the Winds

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Today we are doing caves, the FOUR signature caves of Mulu – Cave of the Winds, Clearwater Cave, Lang Cave and Deer Cave (I’m sure there are numerous others, but kept under wraps). During the morning we visit Cave of the Winds and Clearwater Cave, and the other two in the afternoon. Background material of the caves can be found HERE, HERE and HERE.

To reach Cave of the Winds & Clearwater Cave, we have to take a longboat ride from Park HQ, up the Melinau River. It has been raining and the wooden landing and walkway are quite slippery.03-02-2007-08-35-51.JPG

Lifevests in place, we are joined by 3 Americans from LA.03-02-2007-08-47-59.JPG

So that’s how the swaying footbridge looks from below. There’s another Park HQ boat landing on the other side, mainly for supplies.

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Canon 400D + Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4.5 DC lens, at the ready.03-02-2007-08-50-04.JPG

Soon we are cruising upstream.03-02-2007-08-50-13.JPG

On drier days, parts of the river bed would be exposed with stones and rocks, and the longboat would be swerving around them.

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Somebody’s floating comfort station. Nothing better than to return what you expel back to nature. The fish would love them, the expellees.

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There is a major Penan settlement on the left bank of the river. Note the family MPV parked along the highway.03-02-2007-08-55-59.JPG

Kids having their morning bath near the school. Note the three buddies, bottom right. One day they would come to KL to become consultants. 😀
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And after a bend in the river …03-02-2007-08-54-11.JPG

… we come to a boatpark, and do a stopover.03-02-2007-09-18-06.JPG

This is the Penan village of Batu Bungan, where an evangelical church stands firm.03-02-2007-09-16-02.JPG

There’s the longhouse …

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… and of course, a football pitch.03-02-2007-09-10-07.JPG

But we are here to contribute, in our little way, to the local economy.03-02-2007-09-13-50.JPG

Who can resist the charm and friendliness of the local womenfolk?03-02-2007-09-04-30.JPG

Especially this lady with holed earlobes. Not a single word escapes her mouth, just smiles and gestures. It’s not easy haggling with her.
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Plenty of colourful stuff on display.03-02-2007-09-07-01.JPG

No political slogans or crude unfunny quotes, just plain messages from God-fearing folks. 03-02-2007-09-07-24.JPG

Next to the spears, eating tools, believe it or not. Great for twirling spaghetti and noodles, before gobbling them. Work better than forks.

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Back to the river …

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… to resume our trip to the caves.03-02-2007-09-29-30.JPG

Suddenly I spot an interesting slender tree on the bank there. 03-02-2007-09-30-13.JPG

Spectacular whitewashed cliff to the right.03-02-2007-09-32-10.JPG

And soon we arrive at Cave of the Winds.03-02-2007-09-38-32.JPG

But not before climbing up the rock.03-02-2007-09-41-25.JPG

Cave entrance, and waiting for our guide, Michael, a delightful Penan lad.03-02-2007-09-42-10.JPG

Let’s do a bit of reading first.03-02-2007-10-20-04.JPG

Entering the cave, and a long walk starts.03-02-2007-09-42-48.JPG

A lot of climbing too.

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And of course, we have been seeing this white-ish stuff, and here’s the story about it.03-02-2007-09-49-38.JPG

More formations as we go deeper into the cave.03-02-2007-09-50-56.JPG

And we come to hole in the ceiling …03-02-2007-09-52-30.JPG

… as explained by this note.03-02-2007-09-52-51.JPG

Beyond this point, more spectacular formations.03-02-2007-09-54-47.JPG

Michael enthusiastically gestures at some formations. Interestingly, the Penans do not like caves, which they believe are abodes of spirits.

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Note the perspex shield at the stairs, to protect the precious limestone column from grubby hands.03-02-2007-10-02-32.JPG

Michael telling tales about the formations. Its an art, like interpreting cloud formations on a lazy afternoon. 😀 03-02-2007-10-04-21.JPG

Pretty amazing stuff this. Never seen anything like it before in our previous cave trips – Naracoorte, South Australia and Halong Bay, Vietnam. Which shows each cave is unique.03-02-2007-10-07-00.JPG

This has taken millions of years to take shape.
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Aina diligently keeps up with her reading. 03-02-2007-10-10-21.JPG

Still excited, we have to return to the extrance for the next cave, Clearwater Cave.
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We return to our boat for a quick ride to the next destination. Cave of the Winds has been exhilirating experience, but there was a lack of … ummm … winds! Blame it on the weather. 😐
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TO BE CONTINUED …

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