Mulu Monsters Part 1

We have written about the activities we did in Mulu National Park (Day 1, 2 and 3), but we decided to leave the majority of the weird and wonderful nature that we saw for two, special posts. We saw so many different things that the best way to separate them was by the number of legs (or limbs...but not counting tails). Here is the first instalment - Mulu Monsters, 0-5 legs.
Please note: We didn't actually see anything with 5 legs...
...but we did see something with one foot! 
Introducing...the Mega Snail! 
A hammerhead worm? Or maybe a leech...weird.
We spotted this catfish on the night walk.
An Asian Bird of Paradise.
We were lucky enough to see a male wooing a female.
Shhhh! The forest is full of sleeping birds at night.
This bat was hanging out with us on the night walk.
He loved the attention!
We saw many different types of squirrel...
This one was had a white belly.
Here you can just about see the tiny, brown pygmy squirrel.
Its body is about the size of your thumb!
This frog was mid croak. And boy, are frogs noisy!
This large toad followed us home.
What a lovely little green tree frog.
This little fella was only an inch long!
Another noisy neighbour - check out this lizard!
Check out this lizard!
Is there a gecko in here?
This is a close-up of a twig.
Notice the different-sized ants crawling on it.
How did this picture get in here?
After days of walking through the
damp rainforest, Dave's athlete's
foot was really playing up.
Do you have any hobbies?
I collect photos of spores, moulds, and fungus.
It's not just the creepy crawlies you have to be careful of...
Beware of the spiky branches!

And just so you don't have nightmares tonight,
here is a picture of a pretty flower.

Boohoo! Last day in Mulu!

I’m sure a lot of you are wondering what the accommodation and facilities are like considering the resort is in the middle of the rainforest. This National Park is outstanding and it has top class facilities for all budgets. Being the backpackers we are, we stayed in the hostel (dorm room) and it was spacious and comfortable, although I would recommend bringing a mosquito net (if you have one!) There are actually cheaper places you can stay in, just outside the park but we opted to stay inside, which saved the hassle of having to pay the park entrance fee every day as well as a short walk.
Going to the bathroom in the hostel was a mini adventure in itself, due to its door-less nature. This required nerves of steel and flailing limbs, in order to battle through the various creatures before seeking comfort in a stall...hopefully alone.
While taking my first rainforest shower, I was joined on more than one occasion by a bat, and then stepped out of the cubicle, only to find myself face to face with two gigantic dragonflies. Later that night I returned to brush my teeth, and discovered a rather large praying mantis feasting on one of the aforementioned dragonflies. This was truly a sight to behold.
He's looking at you!
Meanwhile in the boy’s bathroom there was a colony of ants building themselves a new nest above one of the showers... using the remains of larger insects they had killed.
The nest building was an interesting side-note to Mulu.
Prior to getting to Mulu, we had read that food and water inside the park were significantly more expensive than usual, so we stocked up on supplies. However, the restaurant food is only a bit pricier, with a meal averaging around 12 MYR (£2.50, $4), and the breakfast that is included with the accommodation is really good. There are a few options to choose from and all were substantial. The water, however, is a different story. A 1.5L bottle is 8 MYR (£1.60, $2) as opposed to 2 MYR in Miri. Tap water is apparently drinkable after boiling, but often comes out of the tap looking a bit yellowish. We suggest you take your own water when possible, and some snacks for the treks, as these are also expensive.
Mee Hoon noodles with chicken and veggies. 
A perfect, hearty meal before a walk in the jungle.

Laksa Round 3 - totally different to the others and rather
scrummy, if we do say so.
Our final full day in the park involved waking up at the-sun-is-barely-up-o’clock and dragging our feet to the treetop tower to go nature-spotting. We stayed there for over an hour and barely saw a thing except for a couple of birds, a few types of squirrel, but nothing that made the early morning effort worthwhile.

We then went on the botanical garden trail, which was quite nice because we spotted some interesting flora including a fish-tail leaf and a carnivorous plant called a pitcher plant.
This tree is large...
...and only 90 years old!
This has not been eaten.
It is called the fish-tail leaf!
It took us a while to find these.
I took dozens of photos.
The pitcher plants have sweet nectar that attracts insects into the chamber so they become trapped in the liquid, and are then slowly dissolved, feeding the plant. Some have been found on Borneo that are so large they have been known to catch rodents.
We saw some during the night walk as well.
This one was much bigger... and deader.
That evening, we sat and watched another spectacular sunset before heading off on our night walk.
It was the bluest blue I had ever seen...
The night walk was a two hour trek starting at 7pm, that took us deep into the forest. The group was 6 strong, and we all followed nervously behind our eagle-eyed guide. We set off from park HQ as naive tourists, eager for a few good photos for facebook...but we returned ashen faced, suffering PTSD (post-terrifying-stickinsect-disorder) just like those returning from war. We saw things, man. Huge, scary, unearthly monsters that, according to Newt, “mostly come out at night...mostly.”

One thing we were both a bit disappointed about was not having seen many mammals. Obviously, there were the millions of bats, and then several squirrel sightings, but what we really wanted on this night walk was to see something new. And it would seem luck was on our side that night! Thanks to our guide we got to see some kind of porcupine snuffling around a few meters away. We didn’t manage to get a photo, but it was about a foot long, with a long, thin tail and a rattish face. How exciting!

The other really cool thing about the trek were the mushrooms. When we were deep in the rainforest the guide asked us all to turn off our torches. As soon as the last person did, we were plunged into a kind of darkness I have never experienced before, even during my time as a goth. It was really scary. Then, gradually as our eyes adjusted we became aware of a glow coming from the ground around us. The longer we stood in darkness, the brighter it became. They were mushrooms! It was just like a scene from Ferngully (or Avatar, for those of you who missed this brilliant childhood animation). It was ravetastic.

We highly recommend the night walk, although you might be best doing it on your last night. Once we knew what was out there, sleeping became a challenge!

I’m sure you are all dying to see some photos of the wildlife we have mentioned, so tune in next time for an animal special, yay!

You can read about day one & two here.

Costs (per person)
Johor Bahru to Miri Flight = £38 ($55)
Miri Hostel (dorm bed) = 30 MYR (£6, $55)
Miri to Mulu Flight Return = £45 ($65)
Mulu Airport Transfer = 5 MYR (£1, $1.50)
Mulu Hostel (dorm bed per night) = 40 MYR (£8, $12)
Mulu Park Entry Fee = 10 MYR (£2, $3)
Night Walk = 10 MYR (£2, $3)

Woohoo! Mulu Day 2! - Moon Milk, Wind & Clearwater Caves

On our second day in Mulu we decided to get up early and go for a hike, which involved going through a small cave called Moon Milk cave. Then we were meeting a group at a different cave for a guided tour. The hike was really interesting because we saw lots of interesting flora, and we really got to hear the sound of the rainforest.

The hike was mostly boardwalks, which were very slippery as it had rained all night. The stairs were particularly difficult to climb, and each time we went to grab the hand rail for support, we were greeted by the sight of some kind of creepy crawly! Here are some of the things we saw along the way...
Mating Centipedes on the handrail
You can hear the ants moving inside this branch!

Why did the mushroom get invited to all the parties?
One of many huge snails!
Furry leaves....
These leaves had bumps on, and we didn't figure out why.
The Moon Milk cave was fun, as it was just the two of us and was pitch black inside. It was also quite small, meaning we had to duck and squeeze at times, and when we turned our torches off it was really freaky.
We definitely didn't want to bump our heads
on this spiky ceiling!
The cave is named after a substance that forms on the surface of the rock walls. It looks like a milky white liquid (hence the name Moon Milk), even though it’s solid. It’s actually formed by bacteria, although nobody is quite sure what it is.
This is Moon Milk
Eventually we made it to the Wind Cave and met up with our tour group. This time, our guide was very knowledgeable and stopped every couple of minutes to give us relevant information. 
The hike was tiring and sweaty. This is the sweaty bum-print
Dave left behind while waiting for the tour guide.
Two little bats chilling outside the cave.
 Interesting fact about caves: I’m sure you all know about stalactites and stalagmites, but there are also formations called heliotites. Stalagmites grow up from the ground, stalactites grow down from the roof, and heliotites grow horizontally, from a stalactite/stalagmite. In the photo below, they have been caused by wind, which blows through the cave and changes the direction of the sediment-filled water droplets.
While chilling before the next tour...
We then moved on to the Clear Water cave – or part of it at least. This is a huge cave complex made up of dozens of caverns, through which pounds a roaring river. This cave system used to be connected to Deer Cave, before the roof collapsed and the Garden of Eden was formed (as mentioned in the previous post). The river level was really quite high when we visited, due to the aforementioned heavy rain. 
Shadow Lady...complete with booby and nipple!
Dave went for a dip afterwards
After the cave tours we headed back to Park HQ, but this time by long boat. The boat sat very low which was different to any other boats we had taken. The trip back was great fun and much more relaxing than the hike there!

Once back at HQ, I signed up to do a canopy walk. Katie very wisely decided not to do it because of her fear of heights. The canopy is around 30 meters off the ground and afforded an entirely different view of the forest. Once again, I really felt like Indiana Jones, walking on a rope bridge, suspended over a river with the potential for crocodiles. Stop the references Dave, please. It’s not even that great a film!
I was tempted to cut the rope...
Massive tree!
Parts of the trees hang down to the forest floor

I did the walk with an Australian civil engineer, who assured me that the rope bridges were perfectly safe, which was comforting to hear.

Our first night in the park, we had been lured into a false sense of security. It had rained a lot and apparently this kept the insects to a minimum. On the second night however, the skies were clear and we were dumbfounded by the sheer quantity of life crawling and flying around the open plan cafeteria. Not the best atmosphere to enjoy a meal was like trying to dine at a driving range, with golf ball sized beetles hurling themselves clumsily at your face.

And so ended another fantastic day in Mulu National Park! Join us next time and see a carnivorous plant as well as an incredible sunset.

Costs (per person)
Miri Hostel (dorm bed) = 30 MYR (£6, $55)
Miri to Mulu Flight Return = £45 ($65)
Mulu Airport Transfer = 5 MYR (£1, $1.50)