Saturday, November 8

Niah Caves Exploration

As Bintulu is an industrial town, there's not much sight seeing or things to do. Around 2hrs drive away from Bintulu, (approximately 1hr drive away from Miri), lies the Niah National Park. With much excitement, my host brought us here. Road access is available, although we have to pass by a small kampung into this National Park.

Entry tickets have to be bought at the new brick complex. The old wood hut buildings, are all vacanted. It is a very awkward place, showing signs of lack of proper management. The chalets, although looking proper, were not popular amongst tourist and left inhabitat like that. It was quite a sorry sight. Entrance ticket for Malaysians is RM10/pax, and there's a jetty. From the jetty, we need to hop on a boat to cross a small river. Each boat ride costs another RM1/pax/way (from 7am-5.30pm) and RM1.50 (from 5.30pm -7pm), which is super ridiculous in my opinion. Why cant they include a boat ride fee in the entrance ticket? If riding that boat is so costly, why not make a walkover bridge? That river is so small it makes us feel stupid to pay RM2 to cross it (while enter and exit)! It's just a mere 2 minutes boat ride!!

Arriving at the other side of the riverbank lies even more dilapilated buildings. It gives an eerie feeling while walking through the buildings, i suggest tourists to come early in the morning, because i exited this place during sunset, and it really spooks me out seing those dilapilated chalets, tall unkept grasses, and my imagination ran wild. 

Walking into the national park was easy. There is a wooden pathway, and cemented road, which is slippery. Wearing proper shoes is a must. I almost slipped and fall many times as the woods were damp, and there are green mould covering the wood. It's nothing i would complain of, as this is a rainforest adventure.

From the signboard at the entrance, we need to walk 3km before reaching the cave entrance. The 3km walk is filled with sights, scents and sounds of the denizens of the rainforest. 

Insects like centipedes, roaches, praying mantis and worms can be seen easily. 

The white termites was easily mistaken for white sesame! I thought it was shaken off the tree during the earlier downpour! Haha silly of me, then these creatures wriggle around and oh my, it's alive!!!

After a 2.8km slow walk (approximately 1hr), we arrived to the first limestone cave, called Traders Cave. Traders Cave got it's name for being the place the original people do their trading. Many years ago, before civilization came, there are people who lived in these caves. Niah cave came into the spotlight after human remains were found, hence became an archeological site. 

Trader's Cave is a huge opening, and until today there are stacks of bamboo which indicates the trading platform. 

Just a stone's throw away, lies the Grand Entrance of the Niah Caves. It's really huge, unlike the caves that i've been. As we went there on a weekday, we did not see a soul. From the Entrance of The Great Cave, there are fenced up area which indicates the old civilization's place of stay. From there on, our adventure in the dark begins...

Remember to bring torchlights, as there are places where no light can penetrate through and we have to walk in total darkness. The limestone caves are enormous, but fret not, as long as we are walking along the wooden path, we will not get lost.

Our adventure in the dark was watched by the swiftlets and bats, residing on the roof of these caves. My iphone camera can only do so much under low light conditions, hence i am only able to describe how dark it was, and how deep down we travelled.

There are certain spots where it may be slippery, as there are water falling through the top.

While admiring the limestones, we tend to wonder, how did those people survived? How did they find their way in and out?

I also wonder, how did the people made these long stretch of wooden pathway for us. You have to see it to believe it!

After walking in the darkness, i understand how it feels to see light! 

At the end of Entrance of the Great Cave, we need to walk about 500m more, to Painted Cave. This 500m was horrible to me, as i need to face my mortal enemy - The Stairs! 

My muscles have already ached by then, and going up to Painted Caves seems harder than reaching the heaven. Well, i'm exaggerating, that's for sure. My lack of exercise is killing me softly.

Painted Cave, is famed for the ancient cave painting. (Which had faded with time). I dont know what i was seeing. 

From the pictures display, i can conclude that there are monsters living in the forests nearby. The creature never seen before, hahahaha.... I'm not exactly an artistic person. 

From the paintings, we saw something down there. Out of curiosity, we wanted to explore. 

But it was too steep for me, so i stayed up there. The guys went down, can you see how small are they? 

Here's a zoomed in version, just in case you cant see them. 

Painted Cave marks the end of the 4km Niah Adventure. We now have to make a U-turn in order to exit. Stairs, and many stairs that i have to endure. 

We entered by 2pm and exit around 5.30pm. Overall, it is a pleasant adventure. I felt excited, amazed, and experience darkness and uncertainties. The darkness amplifies the surrounding sounds of bats, swiftlets, crickets and whatever else inside there.

Would I go again? Yes, i want to bring a good camera, and powerful torchlights and explore once again. 

My newly found friends have told me about Mulu Caves, maybe i will plan a Mulu Cave trip next. Gotta wait for next year, as I'm running out of annual leaves already! 

Till then,



Cik Iman said...

Really nice landscape there :D Didn't know they provided stairs, planks and gazebo too!

MsXeRoZ Nicole said...

Cik Iman,
Yeah, the 4km walk is quite a leisure one, with the scenery and all. At least we dont have to climb in. it's very convenient!