Mulu, part I – people and the jungle

Mulu is a tiny village in the middle of the rainforest and by Mulu National Park. There aren’t any roads connecting the village with the rest of Borneo so we had to take a plane again. Flight on a small plane took 25 minutes only and saved us a lot of time and money. Other ways to get to Mulu are by boat up the river stream and it takes 3 days or 2 weeks trekking with a guide through the jungle.

 

Mulu airport is located between mountains and a wild rainforest. Airport didn’t look like airports we used to see. It was tiny and a plane crew was unloading laggages on the table. Apart from tourists and locals, the small plane brought eggs, rice, water, vegetables etc. Someone brought a tire someone else TV set. Mulu is such a separated place from the other part of the land that people living there doing shopping once a month. They send one of the family member by plane or boat to the town to do supplies. Some of the lucky ones have friends or family living in Miri, Kuching or Kota Kinabalu so they send them whatever needed. There is one shop in the village but with very small choice of products and with very high prices.

We exited the airport terminal and saw a big sign showing a direction to National Park Headquarters. We turned right as sign said and walked through the village. Whole Mulu is only one, 2.5 miles long road with another very short (500 yards) branch. There are only a few houses nearby the road. Actually, we were walking by the fields that used to be a dense rainforest with some houses on the poles.

 

The only hotels that can be booked online are those offered by National Park and luxury Marriott (used to be Royal Mulu Resort). To build it all building materials and equipment had to be brought on huge barks coming from the coast to Mulu and back again. It was a very expensive investment (5m RM, +- £1m) and very logistically difficult. That explains price for one night for staying there (about £l00).

Mulu was another place where we didn’t book anything and we had no idea where we would end up sleeping for the next 8 nights. We didn’t want to spend the fortune on accommodation so we were looking for a place in local people’s houses. After checking few places we found Albert’s house. It was a brick house which was very rare. Cold rainwater in the taps, electricity 4 hours a day, 6 -10pm. The room was very basic – just bed, table and fan that without power had no use. Albert’s house was very clean and friendly and what’s more, cheap and 5min from the entrance to the park. We were living like locals for next 5 days. We finally had use of our water purifying filter (life straw) and we could drink rain water without worrying. We really liked such a spartan life, it felt like time stopped over there. It was us and neverending rainforest around with huge caves. That was our view through the window:

People in Mulu

Berawan are the main indigenous people living there and only about 1000 of them left! They used to be nomad-hunters living in the forest. They were moving from one place to another after few months when possibilities to hunt were going down or land that they had crops were not good enough anymore. A couple of years ago missionaries showed them that staying in one place had its advantages. Now most of the people work for National Park as guides, guards or hotel personnel. On the picture below, Chev with traditional Berawan warrior shield made by Albert:

 

Near Mulu, there is a small settlement Batu Bungan with Penan tribe. Same like Berawan they used to move around and in the 70’s they settled in one place, but still over 200 of them live somewhere in the jungle away from civilization. Germans built traditional longhouses for them, but brand new houses are empty because it was made out of concrete and they didn’t like it as it’s too hot overnight.

 

The jungle

We were doing trekking in the rainforest every day. Had to stop every few minutes to take a picture of the plants or insects we discovered. (click to enlarge)

 

And here is our favorite bug! Right after spotting a danger, he turned into a ball like Pokemon or something. ;D

 

We couldn’t resist having a night walk in the jungle too! 😀

Curious as always, wanted to check how far asphalt road would take us and if it was possible to get here on wheels. Confirmed, wasn’t! It was a dead end and with only the jungle around, not even a smallest sign of a dirt road.

 

 

We did over 4 miles trekking on Paku Valley Loop to see a waterfall.

On the way Anna didn’t notice a snake so she walked over him! Poor guy didn’t expect that. He was very hard to spot thanks to his great camouflage. Chev was walking behind Anna and spotted little spring getting ready for attack… Luckily he didn’t strike…

 

In the next part about Mulu you’ll find another (bigger!) snake spotted in the jungle and the best attraction of the park, the caves:

Mulu, part II – caves