[ ] We drive to a river and get onto a small motorized boat and head for the alluvial delta of the river to a large bay that opens up into the South China Sea. There are mangrove trees all along the shore and we are lucky enough to see some Proboscis monkeys. There are a few islands and beaches to be seen. But where are the famous Irrawaddy River Dolphins we have come here to see? We circle around in the area that the locals say they usually hang out. It’s getting late. Finally we see them! Ah, it was worth the trip. The boat speeds up to get us back to the starting point. The mixture of fresh and sea water hits our faces. It goes dark. We speed through the water and the man at the front of the boat scans the area around with a flash light for any objects to avoid, making signals to the guy at the tiller. Finally we get back to land.
[ ] In the back of my mind, I’m still thinking that when we get home, we could be quarantined. Or maybe we could get stuck Im Malaysia. So unusually for us, I get laundry done each day at that time, it’s not expensive, I want to be sure if we get stuck somehow, we have lots of clean clothes to wear. Fortunately this is a tour where there is absolutely no dress up necessary, so apart from two decent tops, I don’t even have a pair of sandals with me, that’s great, our suitcase can be all practical exploring clothes, just like we wear to Africa, but it’s very humid here.
[ ] We ate our meals in authentic local restaurants which are almost empty apart from two, one in the countryside on a Sunday night which is large and open and full of locals at basic round tables, the sort of place Tauck would never enter, but the food was delicious and you could people watch. The other was in a busy open large fish restaurant, again full of locals enjoying fresh seafoods of all kinds, all displayed around the edges of this open space and ready to cook to order. It reminds me of the crazy Reading Terminal market in Philadelphia.
[ ] After five nights in Kuching, we flew to the remote area of Mulu, now we are talking rain forest/ jungle big time. We land at a small airport just a couple of minutes ride from our resort. A sort of open cattle truck is our transport. We enter a luxurious Marriott resort, very spread out, huge lovely rooms, big bathroom with the bath tub and shower, separate but enclosed in the same big glass cubicle, a wet room I think they are called. There is a large window on the opposite side of the bath which looks into thick rainforest.
[ ] Our flight had been changed to a later flight, by now the Covid 19 repercussions were kicking in and ours had been affected. We ate on the plane so we all got ready for a long hike in the rainforest. We took a five to six mile round trip down wooded walkways and steps, some concrete areas, normally a walk in the park for us as we are walkers, but the humidity makes it a real challenge. Eventually we come to a clearing, a world heritage site. Here is where people come to witness one of nature’s spectacles, here is where you can sit and watch approximately three million bats leave the huge high cave in the distance as dusk approaches!
[ ] We use the simple facilities and have a snack and a drink, it’s mid afternoon. We head towards some of the other caves to explore, there are many many steep steps and it’s really really humid. We reach the first cave and enter, there is subtle lighting and many more steps, it’s wet and slippery inside but the stalagmites and stalactites and their pale unusual colors and shapes are fantastic. There are sounds from swiftlets clicking at each other using echo location just as bats do. The nests of these birds are the delicacy that makes birds nest soup. Our group is the only one in the cave. There is another cave even higher up, but it’s getting towards dusk time and I am really hot, so a couple of us head back to the clearing and claim seats for the spectacle that is coming. Mr B explores the second cave and large shapes of thousands of bats on the ceiling are vaguely visible.