DownUnder2Borneo

A mum, dad and their three kids from Tasmania, go on an epic adventure in Borneo for 3 weeks in December

Mulu Farewell and Canopy Walk

The rain started sometime in the night and continued through breakfast. We farewell the Ongs and stash our gear with security (although there was no one guarding it). I check if the canopy walk is still on and it depends on each guide but ours says for now “yes”.

I tear Nani away from facebooking in the gift shop and our family and two young Parisians join us. The walk is 5km return all up and takes us high above the forest floor into the canopy between 25-35 m above the ground. The Mulu canopy walk along rope bridges slung from tree to tree at 480m is the longest in the world. We are told that if it wasn’t raining we could see giant squirrels, hornbill birds, maybe monkeys and insects of all kinds. We don’t see any but after acclimating to the vertigo and the rocking rope bridges the experience of the canopy is peaceful and quiet – until Nani gets ticked off with the noise of our kids and them jumping on the rope bridges and gets stuck into them. No-one is enjoying the ambience now and abbey is crying.

I separate the kids from their mother and take them out of sight in front so she can chill and listen to the guide who follows up the rear. Our guide is a Penan one of the original nomadic jungle dwellers of Borneo. His name is Ishmael and he is also a Christian pastor after his grandfather a powerful shaman converted.

After descending from the tree tops the boys and I make for HQ stopping to touch the feral rattan plant we looked at yesterday. A type of palm, it supplies the familiar rattan for basket weaving, but is covered in nasty spines. This doesn’t make it feral though. When I touch it, the whole plant shivers and rattles like the sound of rice tumbling inside bamboo. What would make a plant react to touch? It’s symbiotic little friends the ants. When you touch the plant, the ants jump to attention all up the inside of the stem. You can’t see them, but I’m pretty weirded out by it because I can imagine the whole plant splitting open and a monsoon of ants falling all over me. I much prefer seeing the majestic metallic blue Raja Brookes butterfly fluttering past and the hammer head worm on the hand rail as we move on.

Mulu Park is run really well. The place is open 365 days, it is clean and the food is good. It caters for everyone (from hard core adventure caving to simple easy walks) and the infrastructure is impressive from the concrete paths and board walks which get high pressure cleaned to prevent them getting slippery, lights which tastefully show off features of the cave and the commitment to conservation and nature appreciation and education is laudable. All the amenities are clean and it’s easy to organize guided walks which are a bit exe but worth it and self guided walks are available too.

Most of all it’s just mind blowing the scale and variety of the caves and of course the bats flying out on dusk is spellbinding.

Abbey sings the flamingo song which is a ridiculous song she made up that seems to be constantly evolving. Initially the boys were hysterical but it has been overdone now and they hate it now, which inspires her even more. It is to a tune similar to the Farmer in the Dell;

flamingoes like to fly
They fly to the sky
They fly so high
That they die die die

The dogs start to bark
Cos the cats go in the park
A rhino comes along
And says roar roar roar!

And then a horse comes along
And scratches you across the cheek
With one almighty sharp claw

Lachie comes along
And stomps his feet
A cow comes along
And listens to the beat
Stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp

Abbey comes along and eats a chewy bar
Chew chew chew
Oscar comes along
And says la la la
Dad and mum comes along
And says blah blah blah

We’re on our way to Sandakan

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