Thursday, 6 November 2014


After the kayaking expedition down the Semadang River, I organized an overnight, possible 2 night trip out to Bako National Park.   The park is not far out of Kuching and requires a simple bus journey and quick boat ride to access it. 

Accommodation is simple, cheap and must be booked in advance in Kuching itself at the National Park Booking Office at the corner of Jalan Carpenter and Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg.

Although I had booked and paid $5 for a dorm room at Bako, I woke up that morning and decided to keep moving north and jumped a bus to Sibu. This cost 50 myr and took around 7-8 hours, never believe the time they tell you the bus journey will take ANYWHERE in Malaysia!!

A great site for bus schedules, prices and almost everything Malaysian travel related

If I had planned it earlier, you can actually take a river ferry from Kuching to Sibu, which I think would have been awesome, but you live and learn, I see myself back in Borneo in the future anyway. 

After arriving so late the first night, I decided to stay 2 nights here to check out the town, not much to report really, though as always, great food.  Some quotes from wikitravel...  sounds like my kinda place!!   Though in all honesty, it didn't seem so bad.

" Unofficially, Sibu has been coined the 'Wild West' of Malaysia and the term has existed for more than 20 years. The nickname came about due to the nature of 'lawlessness' and frequent triad activities in Sibu"

"Bars and pubs, often occupied by the regular patrons. Take caution of shady characters. Do not stare back when looked at."

"Travelers should take note that gossip is an endemic problem in Sibu. It can be difficult to escape unwanted and intrusive attention but keeping a low profile can help to reduce the extent of this problem.
There are many shady characters in Sibu, whom one must avoid at all costs.
Gangsterism is a problem in Sibu; most of the gangs are probably connected with some of the numerous timber barons in the town"

I honestly can't remember where I stayed in Sibu, but it was soon time to catch another bus further north to Miri, 50 myr again and at least another 8-9 hours.  As with most of Malaysia, the bus terminal is right on the out skirts of town and will require a taxi late at night or a local bus to get you into the town proper.

In Miri I am booked in at Venice Inn Hotel for around $20au a night, which turns out to be just fine, I like the location and end up staying for almost a week.

The number one choice for eating and drinking for foreigners and locals alike, seems to be the Ming Cafe.  Boasting a great location, menu, ambience, drinks list and attentative staff, it became my evening hangout where I could hook up to their free wifi, watch football (via laptop) and meet all sorts of people.

Unfortunately, as per usual, scooter rental in Miri was also non existent and I tend to feel trapped not having my own transportation and being limited to the bus routes.

An overnight trip out to Niah Caves and National Park was on the agenda and is fairly easily reached, a local bus will take you to the main terminal where you jump on a south bound  coach back towards Bintulu.  Tell the driver you want to go to Niah Caves and he will drop you at a small junction near the town of Batu Niah (that has some really amazing food in one of those typically Asian bus-stop food halls, don't be shy to try the delicious buffet style spreads here).  

A taxi from here will cost you 30 myr straight to the park headquarters where you can organize accommodation fairly cheaply.  There was another foreign girl waiting at the junction so I quickly assumed she was heading to Niah and soon we were teamed up ready to explore the caves and share costs.

Get to Niah Caves....  or ask at the local tourist office

WonderfulMalaysia is also another great site I used regularly 

Sarah and I hit the trekking trails straight away, you have to cross a little river first which will cost you 1 myr and has a boatman waiting all day to ferry you back and forth.  Once on the other side of the river it is a beautiful walk through the jungle, though most of the way is man made trails.

Once you reach the caves there are once again wooden boardwalks and stairs to guide you through, I recommend bringing a face mask of some sort, the stench from the bird and bat shit can be fairly overpowering.  We explored the cave then waited at the entrance for nearly an hour, hoping to catch a glimpse of the 'changing of the guard', where you can witness the 2 black clouds of birds and bats crossing the sky, the birds heading home and the bats going out to hunt.

No such luck today though and we found ourselves walking back through the trails in the dark, the sounds of the jungle buzzing around us and the beautiful sight of fireflies all around made for a great walk.  I had never seen fireflies before.  Oh and I missed stepping on a decent sized snake by mere centimeters as he crossed the path in front of us, be aware that you really are in the jungle here.

The park accommodation was very simple and so was the food, but they both served their purpose and the place is well worth a visit.   Our plan was to stop at Lambir Hills National park on the way back to Miri and do an overnighter there also.

Still very few photos of Borneo..