To explore Mulu we have to use local guides. Park HQ had Park Rangers that ready to accompany you. The tariff was fixed including a fee during your stay at the camp. For Pinnacles the tariff would be RM400 (3D/2N per group), while Headhunters trail was RM160.
From Melinau river we dropped by at Penan settlement. This ethnic group traditionally was nomadic, but at this time only around 4% that still hunting in the forest. Other became the rice farmer, the roots or sago. While the woman made craft for tourists. Generally they speak with Berawan, the language for people who live in upstream (Orang Ulu), but they could communicate with the Malay. One story is most of the Penan could not swim, but after settlement the new Penan generations began to be adapting with the life at the river bank.
The settlement that I was visited got three longhouses. But they were separated into three different row of the longhouse. According to Richard-our guide several years ago a big fire destroyed some of the housse so government decided to separated them in prevent of future fire. I saw several Bilek –small family room that also separated from main house even still in one complex. They maintained chickens, dogs also monkey. There was an old church for the religious activity. Ethnic groups in Borneo indeed followed the Christian Catholic religion but not meant animism was left.
I would like to have the Parang (big knife) and blowpipe – their traditional weaponry. But this could be the problem in immigration. Finally admired the flute bamboo that was blown through the nose. Also a piece of bamboo that was scared in the mouth to create sound. One musical instrument that interested me was a guitar that string was sliced from bamboo skin.
Here we needed one porter to deliver logistic to camp 5. A young Penan man was woken up from his siesta. That meant there would be five people on the boat headed to Kuala Berar. Beforehand we visited two more caves that only could be accessed by the boat, namely Clearwater cave and Wind cave.
Wind cave almost equally pretty with Lang cave. The first caught me was the karst layer that visible younger also was seen dry. King Chamber one of the view was very interesting because stalactite were slim almost a stick like iron bars that continued with stalagmite. While Clearwater cave had long system with the river connected in. I guaranteed its water was pristine very much like its name. Here we found the construction of stalagmites that like been cut off. They named him Adam and Eve because a pair.
After lunch we headed back by boat again. The Melinau river not really deep-about 1 foot high, We had several times that the boat machine knocked the rock at the bottom of the river. Only occasionally was gotten by the swift flow that made Richard issue his oars.
Around 1 hour afterwards we arrived in the Kuala Berar. From here we will begin trekking 8km headed to camp 5. The elevation was just flat, but when in the forest a eight kilo felt twice like its fold. According to signpost it only two hours but these more likely apply to local people. The young porter has departed first with the cane basket that was connected in the head.
I have no problem with mosquitoes but that was leech that I most worry about. My fear became reality after an one hour trekking suddenly torrential rain poured down. This would make the leech attack get cruel. Leech uses temperature sensitivity to look for prey. When rain the temperature tended to drop made them easy to identify casualties. Several times this cute animal attached itself on my foot and often crawl into my face ( they caught at the raincoat that I worn). After approximately three hours trekking including resting for 1/2 hour finally we arrived in camp 5.
Thing to do next was “leech operation”-took off all clothes and shoes. Result: three leeches on my foot successfully sucked my blood and one leech on my back that keep bleeding for nearly half an hour. Apparently several leeches fell on my rucksack. To release it we use insect repellent with 100% deet.
Camp 5 was very comfortable. Had 5 big rooms that per room was able to sleep around 10 people. The benches for sleep was equipped the foam layer. Also they have public’s kitchens and clean bathroom. When getting dark a generator will lit the light along the beds. In the roof lined up solar panel as an addition of the electricity power. In here we will remain for two nights during the climb of the Pinnacles the next day and continued trekking Headhunter’s trail to Nanga Medamit.
To be continued (climbing the Pinnacles and the story about Miss Lucu)