"the trusted voice of teens who travel"
December 24th, 2012
It’s a deadly place for those who do not know it, and that is why we are sticking with the paths and the national parks. Still, they are not perfectly safe, but that is a story for another time. Christmas is only three days away and it still has not snowed yet here in Borneo and unless something really strange happens I don’t think it will. We hopped into our rental car, cranked the air conditioning and set out for a one and a half hour drive to Niah Caves National Park on Borneo, near Miri, Malaysia. It turned out to be two hours away for us. The roads were twisty and bumpy. Hannah, Mom, Dad and I all got hit on the head. We passed the time having a great conversation about WWII and WWI, one of my great interests.
We arrived in a downpour of rain and rushed inside. After paying for our tickets we steeled our nerves and walked out into the rain. It actually wasn’t that cold. I could hear it hit the leaves above us and make its slow decent down from tree to tree until it splattered on the ground. We walked for a while without seeing anything till we got to a little sign on the side of the path. Mom started to read it for Ezra and we all listened. I hope you will excuse me if I forget what it said. We walked on from there looking at millipedes that were red.
About one hour later we reached a cave mouth. Birds flew to and from nests on the top and sides of the cave. It was enormous! When Hannah walked off a ways she looked really small because of how tall it was. There were no people we could see so I let out a piercing gibbon shriek. Did I mention I could speak gibbon? That’s right, while on the floating houses in Thailand I was on a boat and we heard gibbons and I tried to speak to them. They spoke back. Hannah thought it was fun to imagine what I was saying and what they were saying. My shriek bounced off the walls over and over. That’s when Elisha started to stomp. He said he was being a goblin drum from Lord Of The Rings.
When we got sick of making echoes we ventured deeper into the cave. We did not lose sight of the entrance for a while because the cave was the same size the whole way in. suddenly a great wind picked up that lifted our shirts off of our bodies slightly. Looking back to the mouth of the cave we saw a great dragon land and roar. Well, that image flashed through my mind. But instead rain swept in. Thunder rolled over the jungle top and echoed all around us. We could feel a fine mist coat us. We stood and watched for a while then continued on our way. We saw waterfalls and dark walls and lots of guano, which is bat poop.
It was toward the end of our time at the cave that got awesome, sort of. We saw men traveling back and forth along the bottom of the cave and asked what they were doing. They were gathering nests. All over the ground they were littered. One we found had two dead baby chicks in it. These nests are used sold for big money to be cleaned and sold for food, they are the nests used to make bird nest soup!
As we were leaving the cave we realized the rain had made the floor slippery. That entire guano covered floor was wet and treacherous. Mom said to us that if any of us fell into it we would have to ride outside the car. With that she fell and slid down the hill to the path. It was all over her, her skirt, and her hands. It was in other places, but I’ll leave it at that. She yelled up at us, “Well, not safe that way.” And then swore a few times. We took another path down and I was the only one to not get it anywhere other than on my shoes.
We mentioned that she would have to ride outside of the car and she said that only counted for us.
We had a nice walk back to the beginning of the trail where there were some showers. Obviously others had done it too.