18/3/2006 The Beginning of the Mulu Mud Musical
I woke and realized, "Project Week has just started.". Then I ran all over the house finishing all my last minute packing. It was kind of sad considering I was the punctual one and I arrived last (yes, Rajeeta actually arrived before I did at the coach stop). I was carrying the smallest bag. Viola had one twice the size of herself. I was surprised she didn’t keel over while carrying it. We bought the tickets and checked in all the way up to Miri. To my chagrin, everyone else fell asleep and I was awake. I could never fall asleep for these trips. Then the immigration counter came up. We then realized we didn’t even remember what our coach looked like. We wasted a good five minutes scoping out various coaches before realizing it was right in front of us. Whoops. Not a great start. We rushed in and out of Johor Bahru because at first we couldn’t find the gate (that also was right in front of us as well. We were quite blind in the morning). When we arrived at Kuching, we sat down and played cards since we were already checked in and apparently we only needed to do immigration at Miri. An hour passed with us playing Black Jack and I fell asleep. I then woke up when we landed and then we waited again at Miri. We got our immigration cards ready after finishing them on the coach, but the guy didn’t even glance at them. He just waved us through. That was odd and very unnerving. But we soon forgot about it as we went through the Miri shops. Then we were up on the tiny plane. I was quite surprised it didn’t collapse, though it made some very disturbing noises.
Trees, trees, trees, oh wait, I think I see a clearing! Nope, just more trees. You’d think you would see some human inhabitation, but apparently the trees outnumber the people a good million to one. And the river looks like a live snake twisting on the landscape. It’s a thick orange colour (totally not the colour I pictured the river to be) that contrasts with the forest surrounding it. We got off and went straight to the national park and settled our payments (with some difficulty since we paid under two different names.). The rooms were basic as basic could possibly be, but we had no problems with them. Other than the odd discolouring of the water. Yellow certainly didn’t look very appealing at the time. So we purified the tap water for brushing our teeth. We would have gone on a Night Cruise, but the weather obviously had other plans. So the rain came tumbling down and the Night Cruise was cancelled. Later on, I suppose it was a good thing since it cost 75 rm per person anyway (really expensive).
Rajeeta: It was vaguely disturbing that not one of us had fully registered that project week had started. To us, Mulu was still that undefined, distant place we'd been debating about for four months. And project week was that trying event most of us had been sweating about for the last few years.
Viola: Even though I was the one who suggested going to Mulu in the first place, it was still only this distant place somewhere in Malaysia where, from what we had seen in photos, greenery reigned. I had been looking forward to Project Week ever since Grade 7, and it really didn't register that this long awaited event was actually on its way.
This is the part where we actually get it into gear and do what we came here to do. I must admit though, what I expected was quite different to what we ended up doing. For instance, I thought we would walk in muckity muck (a term we coined later on in this journey) and collapsing after the first five minutes. Surprisingly, we spent most of the trek on a wooden boardwalk. Of course, then came the Skywalk. We teetered on a rackety creaking bridge and below us was what seemed to me a million miles above the ground (a clear understatement on my part). I pretty much flipped out for the entire time we were on the bridge and when we were back on solid ground, we said, “Yeah that was okay.” I think Rajeeta enjoyed too much. After that, we came back, had lunch and tried to regain the feeling in our legs. Then, at around 3, we left to see the Deer and Langs caves.
This trek too was quite smooth (probably because they were concrete walkways) and we reached at around 4:30 pm. Then we went into the Deer Cave. I don’t know if I can express what I saw there adequately. For one thing I can say for sure. It was REALLY, REALLY big. It gave a whole new look to the Jonah’s stay in the whale, because this cave can apparently fit 4-5 jumbo jets in it (or was it 14-15?). At the entrance was a silhouette of Abraham Lincoln (which was quite cool actually. It looked just like him). We walked in deeper into the cave and then we heard a shrill noise surrounding us. We look up and saw a lot of bats. Well, we heard a lot of bats. We couldn’t really see anything on the account of the fact that it was too high up. It seemed more like a mass of formless black stuff plastered onto the ceiling of the cave. The entire cave had a small stream running through it and thousands of spiderwebs decorating the rocks surrounding the pathway. We trudged in deeper into the dark, got wet and slipped a lot. It followed a very distinct that went like this. I would warn Viola, “Watch out, it’s slippery” and promptly slip on the steps. It was a moment of great irony. It got progressively darker as we went into the cave and we were acutely aware of every sound around us. At the edge of the cave, we saw the Garden of Eden (or as I called, the Lost World). All you could see in the distance were lush tall trees all almost the same colour. It contrasted with the blackened rocks that filled the bottom of the cave. Because of this, the trees looked like they were glowing with some supernatural power. To me, it looked like the edge to a different dimension, one completely alien to our own. We couldn’t go up close unfortunately because the boardwalk stopped about halfway. I found that rather sad because I would have liked to visit the Garden of Eden.
After leaving the Deer Cave (and ogling the abnormally large spiderwebs), we went to the Langs cave which was a lot smaller than the Deer Cave (a LOT smaller). But it certainly had a lot more stalagmite and stalactite formations than the Deer Cave. They came in the oddest shapes and sizes. We saw one shaped like the Great Wall of China as the guide pointed out and we teased Viola about it. There were several features that looked alien spaceships and life forms (obviously Rajeeta and I have watched too much science fiction). There was one large one that looked like the Mothership of Mars. Most of them looked like gigantic squids and octopuses with extra legs attached to them. Some looked like creatures I really shouldn’t have been imagining. But the guided tour was over before we knew and we were outside, waiting to see the bats fly out in hordes out of the Deer Cave.
Again, the weather threw a wrench in our plans. It started raining and we realized that the bats weren’t daft enough to come out in the rain, so we headed back to Headquarters, had an early dinner as well as a well earned bath. Although we did not go to sleep as early as we should have, we managed to get enough sleep (I think. I can’t speak for everyone on this).
Rajeeta: A day to be commemorated, where Ayesha and I began the steady trend of periodically slipping and tying unruly shoe laces; tasks we juggled between us regularly. The formations in the Langs cave really did look alien and we identified a monstrous mothership there. It terrified us to no end to see several similar formations in the other caves. Aliens are trying to take over the world from Malaysia.
Viola:Imagine my surprise when I discovered that my close friend of four years didn't know how to tie her own shoelaces. Add in the fact that said shoelaces keep untying themselves and causing general frustration. Ahh... yes, Project Week, a period full of planning, trekking, sweating, and discovering marvelous things concerning one's companions...
I can't really spot the mad tense dropping, so Jeeta, I'll need your help on that, since it's a bad habit of mine. Guys, add stuff quickly so that I can go to sleep. >.>