Thursday, February 27, 2014

Niah National Park - Niah Cave Experience, Miri Malaysia [Part 1]

Miri is the second largest city in northern Sarawak, Malaysia with a population of about 360,000. This city is also the birthplace of Malaysia's petroleium industry. Petroleum still remains the major industry  of the city. Also known as the northern gateway to Sarawak which is one of the state's most important tourist attractions, Miri is surrounded by five world-class national parks -- Mount Mulu, Niah, Lambir Hills, Loagan Bunut and Miri-Sibuti Coral Reef National Park.

Basic Information
For this trip, we had free time to visit the Niah National Park. This is an important archaeological and historical site because this is where they have found human remains that dating to 40,000 years ago. Research was pioneered by Tom Harrisson in the 1950/60s.

A well-known tourist attraction inside Niah National Park is the Painted Cave (Kain Hitam). Painted Cave is a small but archaeologically significant cave located south of the Niah Great Cave complex where ancient burial sites and cave paintings can be seen here.

The Niah Cave Experience
We booked a private tour for our trip to Niah Caves so we can learn more about it. Our tour started at the Niah National Park HQ. This is where you should use the toilet because after this? No more.

A short briefing before you enter the park [9:40am]
A brief boat ride to cross the river (costs RM 1.00 to support locals)
Yes, it's that short.
a 2-minute warm up walk to the Niah Archaeological Museum [10:00am]
Here's what you can see inside the Archaeological Museum:

Important: This is the place where you HAVE to rent a torchlight if you didn't bring one. It is essential that you have one because believe it or not, the sun won't be of any help at all even in broad daylight when you are inside the caves. You'll see (or not) later. Alternatively, if you're already there, you can purchase one in the airport. They are selling the same torchlight they are renting out here for the same price in the airport (RM5.00).

The walk begins [10:25am]
It's very humid and within 5 minutes of walking, you'll feel sticky already. The guide was kind enough to explain various things he can see inside the rainforest.  This is what you'll be able to see when you are actually there:

This is more or less what you'll be walking on for the next hour
Symbiotic ants live inside the branches of this plant

If you're not on planks, you're on slippery walkways
In the past, they use this for fishing.

...and you thought the walk will never end. 
You're semi-right.

From 10:25am to 11:00am, this is what you more or less can see while brisk walking.
Helix aspersa, more commonly known as the garden snail
Bipalium, often called hammerhead worms because of their distinctive head shape.
A rusty millipede (Trigoniulus corallinus)
By the time we reach the only store inside Niah Caves, it was already 11:18am. The store sells refreshments, souvenir items and local handicrafts. I was tempted to get an ice cold drink but decided not to because I remembered that the nearest washroom is already 1 hour plus away. So off we go again after a few minutes of rest.

The first set of stairs we climbed leading to Traders Cave. [11:26am]
Sounds tiring? To our untrained bodies, it really was! We haven't reached any of the caves yet. Check out the part 2 of my Niah cave experience:

If you want to know more about visiting Niah National Park, check out my other post about it.
(Operating hours, registration, what to bring, etc.)

Related articles:
8 things you need to know about Miri, Malaysia
Air Asia flies direct to Miri Malaysia from Manila

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