Food Adventures in Malaysia: Day 13, Wind Cave in Gunung Mulu National Park
Well this was it; the start of a 2-day life-changing experience. Sure, my entire visit to Malaysia changed my life, mostly because of the food, but my two days spent in Gunung Mulu National Park resulted in a spiritual softening that I didn’t expect. Their beauty, their mass, their haunting wonderment; it’s something that grabs hold of your soul, shakes the dust off, and puts it back in your body, leaving you feeling fresh and new. I can’t describe the emotions, the excitement, or the sheer awe of it all. It’s something you’ll have to go and experience for yourself. I’ll do my best to give you a glimpse of it with the following pictures, but it’s nothing like being there in person.
Breakfast at Mulu Cafe
I hate to distract from my spiritual retelling, but this is a food blog after all. I started the morning off with breakfast at the Mulu Cafe. They have a pretty good selection for such a small place. I was in the mood for protein and carbs to keep me going through my packed cave-hopping morning, so I ordered The Western. “Scrambled egg, sausage, toast, Western beans, and fruit.” Sounded good. It was fair enough I guess. The sausage cracked me up because it was nothing more than a grilled hot dog. Scrambled egg means one egg scrambled. Toast means one slice of toast. The mini banana was awesome. The beans were the star though. They were very similar to Pork ‘n Beans, only much better.
River Boat Ride to Wind Cave in Gunung Mulu National Park
The only way to get to Wind Cave from park headquarters is by boat. This isn’t a bad thing by any means, as it is quite fun cruising along a brown river amidst tropical vegetation. I love this kind of stuff.
The vegetation was amazing. Trees, shrubs, and vines growing right out of, or into, the water were everywhere. It was gorgeous. Here’s a large tree that I particularly liked.
The river brought other surprises as well. We passed by a village of Borneo natives. I was pushed into the depths of humility looking at their board plank huts with open walls built on stilts due to constant river flooding. A father was mending his net to catch his family’s daily meal while his naked 4 year old son was running about, stopping only to wave with a huge grin on his toothless face at us boaters passing by. They had gardens and some small livestock. They were self sufficient and didn’t rely much on the outside world. They were happy and had nothing as compared to the material wealth of even the poorest in the United States. How can I ever feel unhappy or that I don’t have enough?
Entrance to Wind Cave in Borneo
This sign greeted us as we stepped out of our boat, so did the daunting climb up the cliff face to the cave entrance. The humid heat of Mulu is exhausting, so everyone was grateful for the 5 minute break our guide gave us once we reached the cave entrance. I quickly discovered why it is called Wind Cave as I entered the mouth of the cave. A constant gust of cool air is sucked out of the cave. This is due to some strange air flow vacuum event I’m sure, but that chilled ground air was so wonderful that I didn’t think to ask about what created it.
Cave Swiftlets of Wind Cave in Borneo
An unexpected perk of my cave visit was getting see and hear Borneo’s Cave Swiftlets as they rushed past me on their way to their nests deep in the cave. Awesome! They are small, black, and very fast, making snapping a picture of one impossible. They entered at this sink hole opening, came swooping by my head, and then went on their way clicking into the dark.
If you’re not familiar with cave swiftlets, they nest inside the caves of Borneo and Indonesia, find their way around the dark with their clicks, using a form of echo location similar to what bats use, and build little nests out of their saliva. Those saliva nests are the key ingredient of birds nest soup, which is very popular in China. Mmm….spit soup. Doesn’t get much better than that! I found a great video by the BBC on YouTube that talks about these unique birds that I recommend watching.
The Breathtaking King’s Chamber in Wind Cave
I thought the cave up to this point was beautiful. White walls, a few massive stalactites, the sounds of dripping water, but just around the corner from the sink hole, I entered a whole new world. We came to a massive “room”, with boardwalks extending out over a large pit. Beautiful white limestone formations scattered the walls and ceiling. I had never seen anything like it. This was much different than the lava-formed caves of the Pacific Northwest. Our guide had us wait here for everyone to catch up, and then told us about the King’s Chamber we were about to enter. We continued along the trail, climbing a few stairs, and then entered a limestone feast for the eyes. There wasn’t much talking in the group. I think everyone was made speechless by what they saw.
We regrouped back in the large room. While I was standing there, listening to the swiflets clicking by and still in awe of what I had just seen, I found myself on the verge of tears, filled with gratitude for this experience. I never thought I’d see anything like this in my life. All I could think was, “thank you God for giving me the means and opportunity to come here and experience this.”
The Bald Gourmet visits Wind Cave in Borneo’s Gunung Mulu National Park.