Our Field Trip to Mulu National Park

Our Field Trip to Mulu National Park

Diary entry by Elizabeth

We packed up and got ready for our adventure the day before our plane ride. Our whole family had to fit the clothing and miscellaneous things in Mom’s roller bag and Dad’s backpack. I folded Michael’s, Dad’s, and my clothes the ‘travel way’ that I’d learned from a few how-to Youtube videos. This let us bring more things like all of the camelbaks (Mom’s fanny-pack, Michael’s small backpack, and my large one). I am glad that we brought these because we used them every day for water and storage. Dad also brought his drone and camera bag (with the Nikon inside) and Mom brought her purse. 

When we got to the airport the next day, I was nervous because Dad said the plane was going to be a twin prop! The whole clear in and security check, I was picturing the scene from Hatchet (when the boy was in a single prop plane and crashed)! When I saw the plane, I sighed in relief! It was just like a normal plane but smaller and with two huge black props. Inside was normal, too, but the ceiling was a little lower.

What a view!

Our first glimpses of the park
The plane took off and soon we were up in the clouds! I got the window seat and looked out of it the whole ride. It was really sad that there were no forests outside of the Mulu National Park. It was all neat rows of palm oil trees with some splotches of newly cut trees. Tidy little brown roads wove in and out of the palm trees. I could picture the trucks full of palm fruits zooming along them. Michael wanted to see, so I got mom’s phone and put on the camera. I then put it on the window and rotated it side to side so he could see the devastating view we had.

Ten minutes into the flight, we were given really good peanuts and apple juice. Since the plane ride was less than 30 minutes, I could hardly finish my snack before the flight attendant came to get our trash! Next time I will make sure to eat and drink it fast!

We touched down onto the small runway. The plane’s brakes squealed. It then came to a stop with its nose tip just over the end of the runway! That was close! The pilot taxied us next to the small airport and we, along with the few other passengers, hopped off and walked to the airport.

Michael went to the bathroom in the airport and slipped onto his butt! He said that there had been a man in there who saw him! We laughed for a long time!





Diana owned the homestay in which we were going to stay and was really nice. She picked us up in a truck with big wheels. Michael and I stood up in the back while Mom and Dad sat on the wooden benches that were also in the back. It was fun to ride and have the wind whipping our hair around!

Diana showed us our room. It was nice and had three beds: one queen for Mom and Dad, one twin for me, and one twin for Michael. There was a large fan in the room and a bathroom. 

Spiny Stick Bug


We went for our night walk first with Gary and Noelle. It was amazing because we saw so much stuff like a snake that looked like a vine and frogs, and so many creepy bugs! The railing was my favorite part of the three night hikes we did (two were self- guided because we liked them so much). It was like a highway for poisonous centipedes, fuzzy caterpillars, pure white Tree-jumper nymphs, slimy snails, venomous scorpions, stealthy geckos, spiny stick-bugs, and other weird things! Michael and I also found an Assassin Bug!!! 










Local canoe down the shallow rivers

Village market
The next day we hiked in two caves; the Wind Cave and the Clearwater Cave. We rode in a river boat to the village first. There I got 4 keychains for RP $10 (USD $2.50) which were beaded animals (a frog, gecko, spider, and centipede).

Finally we got to the caves! My favorite was the Wind Cave because it had a steady breeze and many breathtaking formations! The Clearwater Cave wasn’t that spectacular because it was a long climb up tons of stairs and there wasn’t anything really to see in it. The pool that the cave was named after was sort of dirty and I didn’t want to get leeches on me! 


















Spelunking sailors!

We went back to the homestay and slept hard!


The next day we got up and had breakfast. We then got into the truck and drove to the park. This time we were going to go to the canopy walk. It was super cool! The walk was two wooden boards wide and swung 30 meters above the ground!

We finally did the bat cave. It was a longish hike. When we got to the cave, we had to walk fast past the grated path because of the bats that were on the ceiling. There were piles of bat poop (guano) so tall that it looked like sand dunes! It smelled awful! There were bugs in the poop and everything! We then left the caves and sat at the place where you can view the masses of bats. We saw them come out in 10 masses at 6:10pm. It was really cool because hawks dove in and caught a few! Wow! We had a great night hike back to the park. Noelle was the frog spotter, and she didn’t let Gary and I (the photographers) down! There were at least 10 of them!




Pancakes and a riverside view for breakfast

We then stayed at the fancy Marriott for our last night. Michael swam in the pool for the whole afternoon! We also played frisbee with a boy who we had met on one of our hikes. It was a really memorable experience!

Awaiting the exodus


Hundreds of bats swarming out at dusk


Michael's Diary of Mulu


The Plane Ride:

We got all of our luggage together, and then we got a Grab to the airport. We were going to go to Mulu National Park, a world heritage site. The plane was a twin propeller (it had to be small because of the short runway at Mulu Airport). The ride was 20 to 30 minutes long, and it was sort of funny because the pilot was already saying stuff like “Thank you for using MASwings — but in the middle of the flight! HA HA HA!

We gazed out the window at all of the palm oil plantations surrounding the border of the park. We could tell it was the park because it was the only forest in sight! We landed at the very start of the runway, and then even when the pilot braked hard, the nose of the plane still went over the end of the runway! EEK!

We walked out of the small building that made up the airport, and found a driver holding up a sign that had the name of our homestay on it — Diana’s Homestay. We rode in the back of a pickup truck to the place we would call home for three nights. It was small, but it had a bathroom and 3 beds (One king for Mom and Dad). Of course, Elizabeth called first dibs on the bed right under the fan, so I got the bed faaaar in the corner. 

The Night Trek:
That night we got ready for a guided night trek with Noelle and Gary (along with a whole group of tourists). I found out that the best place to find weird bugs was the railing! I found tons of millipedes, a few spiny caterpillars, and even a few Hammerhead Worms! We also found big stick insects, frogs, and lots of spiders!





The Clearwater and Wind Caves:

The next day, we took a boat ride to a small village to see the “morning market” for 20 minutes. The reason I say “morning market” is because I have a hunch that it is open whenever tourists come by, not only in the morning. After the short time there, we hopped back into the boat and sped off down the river towards the two caves. 

We parked the boat and hopped out onto a floating dock, after everyone got out, we started hiking up the hill. Finally we reached the entrance to Wind Cave. As the group walked along a raised boardwalk, we felt cold wind rush into our faces. I think Noelle appreciated it a lot! There were lots of cool formations, and the guide found a HUNTSMAN SPIDER!


After that cave, we went to the Clearwater Cave—the biggest cave (area wise) in the world!! We saw lots of bats and swallows, along with some more cool formations! Sadly, it was just a boardwalk, not actual caving. There is a trip you can do called Adventure Caving—you actually cave, but the age limit is 12, and I’m 11! NOOOOO!



The Skywalk and Deer Cave:

Anyway, the next day we went on the sky canopy walk. It was a long walk to the starting point, and then you had to climb up a TON of stairs to get to the beginning of the skywalk. Then the guide (he was the same one as on the night walk) told us that only two people could go at a time on the bridges until they reached a platform. Dad and I came last. 



Dad went first, and I tagged along behind him, trying not to look over the edge. It was a long way down; about 30 meters. It didn’t help when the guide said that the bridges had broken once before. I hoped no one was on it at the time! We reached a platform that could only hold 5 people, and then I went first for the next stretch of bridge. Right when dad stepped on, the whole bridge bent and swung, making my heart jump into my throat. After that moment, I raced ahead, going with the guide so Dad couldn’t sway the ropes. We didn’t really see anything high up there, but it was still a really cool view of rivers and forests! At the end, I was sort of happy to get on solid ground, but then I groaned when I noticed I had to walk ALL. THE. WAY. BACK.


NOOOO!

Then we hiked up to Deer Cave, the biggest cave opening in the world. The cave was full of guano, and the guano was full of cockroaches! Yikes! Then we walked down to this theater-shaped area with a good view of the mouth of the cave. Then we waited. And waited. And waited. All the sudden, the bats came pouring out of the mouth of the cave, making patterns in the sky. IT WAS SO COOL!

Sticky string made by cave worms to catch prey 

Field Trip Family Caving Experience!

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