Dec 6-7, 2016 – Miri and the Niah Caves

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The Niah Caves

See more photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskJXMVDL

Arriving in Miri felt like a completely different world after spending time in Brunei. The oil town is bustling with people, lots of tasty affordable food, and a lively atmosphere.

Once we checked into our hostel, we headed to the famous Summit Café for lunch. It serves local indigenous foods and receives very high praise. I got some tapioca leaves, ferns, and pounded pork with rice. It was definitely one of the healthiest meals I’ve had on my trip so far and tasted wonderful!

In the evening, we went to the mall across the street from our guesthouse and watched the new Disney movie Moana. When purchasing your ticket you must also choose your seat, which is cool. We were the first ones in the theatre and got to look around. In the front row they had placed beanbag seat which looked very comfortable! Overall, Moana was fun, but not as good as Frozen.

The next morning Franki, Ranah, and I split a taxi to the Niah Caves, about an hour and a half away because the bus route to get there was longer and more complicated.

The park was fairly empty of people and it took about an hour and a half to reach the limestone caves by walking along a paved path and boardwalk. The forests of Borneo are always alive! Filled with the sounds of bugs, birds, and monkeys. Unfortunately, we did not see any animals from the board walk, but we did notice rustling in nearby trees several times.

The caves are vast and filled with bats and swiftlets. I’m glad I brought my headlamp. One of my favourite parts was walking along the wooden planks in the darkness and then looking up to see an inverted creator in the rock filled with bats. Unfortunately, the cave paintings were closed due to fallen trees on the path.

One of the most interesting things I learned is that the Iban and local tribes’ people still use these caves today to collect bat and swiftlet guano to fertilize their fields. Additionally, they scale up the walls of the caves and climb long bamboo poles to harvest edible bird nests for soup.

A small museum located in the park provides a history of the caves and its prehistoric human inhabitants. It is also the home of a 40,000 year old skull!

On a side note, Miri had some of the nicest taxi drivers I have ever come across. A female taxi driver taking us to our hostel started recommending restaurants and providing information about evening entertainment. The taxi driver who drove us to the caves bought us a snack to take with us, and then had some pastries and juice boxes ready for when we finished!

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