I never knew that a veil could be formed in the sky. That was what happened in Mulu National Park… A seemingly endless stream of bats surging out of Deer Cave in search of food. It was a sight to behold and I was awe-struck for the 15-20 minutes it took for the undulating black ribbon, and last bat, to leave the cave as dusk began to fall. Bon appetite! I thought to myself.
I stayed in one of the wooden chalet in the Park itself and experienced first hand the rustic ambience and the feeling of being close to nature. The hustle and bustle of city life seemed so far away, and it was. The complete darkness and quiet of the night, inside and outside, made me wonder whether I was the only human there, or in the room in this case. The gentle rustles of my sleeping colleague in the next bed revealed otherwise, and came as a relief too. I was and still am a bit of a faint-hearted boy.
The other excursion, which I was faint-hearted about, occurred the next day when I took a tour of Deer Cave. I realized to my horror that viewing the bats from a distance is very different from viewing them upfront. Not that I had personal conversations with the bats, but the fact that the cave was littered, everywhere in fact, with bat guano (bat shit) made it a very personal experience for me.
Deer Cave was dark and damp. The voice of the tour guide was nice enough but not overly reassuring especially when he advised us to watch our steps and to be careful of where we placed our hands. Needless to say, my concentration was not fully on his explanations of the cave’s history. I was profoundly thankful that I did not slip and fell or touch any guano. I came away with a healthy respect of tour guides who had to do this for a living.
Clearwater Cave, as its name implied, had clear water rushing and flowing through the cave. I would have liked to dip myself into the river of crystal clear cool water but unfortunately due to the rainy season, the water level was high and currents too strong for a safe dipping. So I contented myself with staring at the churning water and trying to imagine what might have been.
Did I mention it was really the rainy season when I visited Mulu National Park? It certainly was. Halfway back to the chalet, which takes about 30-45 minutes along the foot path or trail, depending on how fast or slow I walked, it started to pour, heavily. There was no shelter in sight and I was soaked through within minutes. How I wished for an umbrella there and then.
Suddenly, the rain stopped as I neared the chalet area, and in the twilight, I saw tiny glowing lights floating in the air in front of me. Fireflies! The misery of being caught in a downpour and getting wet disappeared as I looked, spellbound, by the beauty of fireflies and ponder upon the mystery of nature.
Would I recommend a trip to Mulu National Park? Absolutely! It was a real experience for me, just like life is real. No disguises. Just me and nature; contemplating each other and finding great pleasure in little things.
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