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TMBT Ultra Trail Marathon 2017 - My first 100km trail marathon

After 2 years of going haywire from the blogging world ( maybe less coz I blogged for The Borneo Blog ), I have decided to blog about my fi...

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

[Activities] Mulu Pinnacles (4D3N) Trip 2017 - Part 1

I've lost count to the number of times I've re-written this post, I can't seem to complete it.  It has been a struggle but I'm gonna make sure I complete this ๐Ÿ˜‚.  To those waiting for this post, I sincerely apologize for the delay.  Post 1 is getting longer hahaha help!

Mulu airport

Where to begin?

If you're planning to do the Pinnacles, it is highly recommended to book in advance since there's limited slots available at Camp 5.  Allocate 3 days 2 nights for this tour.  Minimum 3 person per tour.  But if you're going solo, don't worry, they will group you up with other solo travelers :) I'll include a summarize costing for this trip at the end of Part 2 of this post.
 
The return ticket from Kota Kinabalu to Mulu costs RM295.32 via MasWing and I had booked it early, my trip was 5 days after TMBT.  I don't know what I was thinking when I agreed for that trip but I was excited for it.  I was confident about my recovery haha.  Optimist!

Flight to Mulu

There are 2 available flights to Mulu from Miri in a day and 1 from Kuching.  Flights will transit at Miri for immigration clearance (for at least 20 minutes).

My flight was originally scheduled for a 55 minutes flight but somehow it was cancelled (without notice).  Thankfully, friend had informed me earlier (around August, mind you) I had sort it out with Malaysian Airlines.  So, that's about an extra 30 minutes to Mulu.

How to book?

Booking for your trip is relatively easy.  Here's a guide on how to plan your trip (Mulu Park website is so informative and you can book your trip from there).  You can also make booking via travel agent or tour operator, but it would cost higher (depending on accommodations in Mulu Park (inclusive meals). 


The day finally came, thank god my legs felt better after begging my sis to massage it.  Who hates packing? ME! Am always indecisive about the clothes bring and would stack it and only put into the bag almost at the very minute hahahah.  Happens all the time when I travel, struggle to pack was so real.  I initially wanted to just bring my 40L HyperGear dry bag but I couldn't seem to fit everything in.  In the end, I packed all my stuff in a small luggage, including my dry bag. 

Things to bring:-

  1. Towel.
  2. Sleeping bag/sheets as covers (mat is provided at Camp5 but might be too thin for some).
  3. Headlamp/torchlight with extra batteries.
  4. Insect repellent (a lot of bees at Camp5).
  5. Raincoat/poncho.
  6. Trekking shoe/trail shoes/adidas kampung.
  7. Bags to carry water/hydration bag.
  8. First aid kit.
  9. Food (for 3 days at Camp5, unless you booked through agent, those will be taken care of) - I brought with me some sweet potatoes, 2 cups of instant porridge (too salty), 2 packs of Indomee, 2 small cans of sardines, some 3-in-1 coffee and milo.
  10. Sandals for bathroom. 
  11. Toiletries.
  12. Rubber shoes for pushing boat (optional).
  13. Leech socks (optional).
  14. Gloves (optional) - recommended.
  15. Powerbank (optional) - there's power socket at the hostel but not at Camp5.
  16. Swimwear (optional).

Day 1:  Flying to Mulu

I packed 3 sets of daily clothes (quick dry material), 1 set for sleep and a dress for returning home.  Also brought my action camera, 1 slipper and my Altra Lone Peak 3 (I just wash these) since I wore my other shoe.


I checked-in my bag and it was 10KG.  Ate a donut (Dunkin Donuts doesn't have that smiley face donut! So sad ๐Ÿฉ) while waited for my friend to arrive.


First time with MasWing.  Boarding the plane from behind is new to me and no rush entering the plane.  WOW.  The flight to Miri takes about 55 minutes.  Entering Miri (as a Sabahan), you could bring along your passport or your identification card for immigration clearance.  You will have to hold on to a slip if you use your identification card (DO NOT! I REPEAT, DO NOT LOSE THE SLIP!).   

Touristy snaps with the plane is a MUST!
Group up with another friend at Miri airport.  Board the same plane and flew in to Mulu.  Arrived at 2:30pm.



This aiport is so small.  I don't remember the last time I've been in this kinda airport. 



Baggage claim
Case scenario:  Friend's bag got left behind at Miri ๐Ÿ˜‚.  Filed a report at the counter, she will only receive it on the next flight which is the next morning at 10am.


Tips:  Hand carry a set of clothing to prevent not having a change of clothes for a day or days hehe.  Especially on trips that require you to transit.

Worst case scenario:  Not having your bag arrive at all.  Since we're heading to Camp5 the next day.  Do not let this one thing ruin your trip.  Stay positive and pray that your bag will arrive.  I had loaned my friend my long tights (I brought extra, just in case) and she luckily had a spare shirt in another friend's bag.

We were supposed to take the bus from the airport to Mulu Park but missed that and got a ride with arrangement with a local guide.  The distance between the airport and park is 1.5km.  You could choose to walk or pay the locals for transport for RM5.  Arrived at the park slightly after 3pm.

Crossing this bridge to the park.  Notice my friend has a hand carry bag?  All she had was food.  Fear of hunger.
Park office.
Guestbook.
Checked in at the park office.  We were also given a band tag which was to be warn till we leave the park.  Were brief by the local guide, Stan, who happens to be our Clearwater and Windcave tour guide.

Day plan

Wi-Fi is available at the park for RM5 per device per day.  Wi-Fi range is limited though, only around cafe and headquarters area.  Celcom and Maxis coverage is at minimal (lucky for my 2 friends), you can say goodbye to the interweb thanks to Digi.  I was off the grid for 4 days hahaha and I survived!


Nope, I didn't get Wi-Fi.  I got this!

We'd check in at the longhouse hostel at the park for the night.  It is a mixed dorm which goes for RM55 per night (inclusive breakfast).  The hostel we stayed in was called Tongkat Ali, it can accommodate up to 20 people and it is highly recommended that you book early for your trip.


I was amazed at how spacious this hostel is.  There's a pantry, lockers, clean toilets and showers.  Clean sheets and towels are provided at the park office when you checked in.  These are to be returned when you check out.  Lodging is also available outside the park for RM35 per night.  If you prefer a more comfortable option, chalets are available at the park too.  Price varies.


Now, there are a number of activities that you can do at Mulu National Park as follows:-
  1. Paku Valley Loop - self guided trip is 8km (round trip) takes about 3-4 hours, you'll need need to register with Park Security before you go - FOC.
  2. Paku Waterfall - self guided 6km return trip from Park Office, takes about 2 hours, also required to register with Park Security - FOC.
  3. Deer and Lang Cave - tours starts at 2pm and 2:30pm.  Recommended tour, cost applies. - We mised this.  But would love to do it next time if I'm there.
  4. The Garden of Eden and Valley Walk.
  5. Kenyalang Loop.
  6. The Mulu Canopy Skywalk - takes about 2 hours.
  7. The Tree Top Tower - Self guided, for bird watching. - FOC.
  8. The Botanic Trail - Self guided, 1.5km with information panels on plants in Mulu. - FOC
  9. The Night Walk - 2 hours guided tour at 7 and 7:30pm.
*Tips:  Book the 9am flight from Miri or the 12 noon flight from Kuching to Mulu to cover the Deer and Lang Cave tour at 2 and 2:30pm.  


We had missed the Deer and Lang Cave tour, decided to just walk around the park and see where it leads us.  Followed the markers, it leads us to Deer cave.


By the time we reached there, it was a bit too late but there's still other visitors around.  Some asked us to turn back but we decided to see the bats from afar and took some photos.

Viewing area.
Bat Exodus: Am not sure if you could see bats coming out from the cave.

Head back to hostel and went dinner outside of the park, GoodLuck Cave'fe.


We ordered fried noodle and fried vegetable for dinner.  You could also opt for dinner at the park cafe.  Estimated cost per meal RM10 - RM15.  Bring sufficient amount of cash since no ATM is available here and every transaction is cash terms ONLY.

 
 

They also provide transport and if you wanted beer and rice wine, it's also available there.


There's a mailbox in the park area, you can send your postcards from here.


Call it a night and slept.  

Day 2

Woke up early for breakfast and pack our bags for Camp5.  You can leave unwanted bags/luggage at the store room provided at the park area.  Make sure you don't leave any valuables.

Saying goodbye to the hostel for now.
Breakfast was included at the cafe.  

 
Were up before 7am for breakfast since we had to gather with the other groups for tours by 9am.

 

Souvenir shop at the park.  Just in case you forgot to bring your toiletries, can get it from here (but at a higher price).


My hydration and backpack for Camp 5 and my small luggage will be at the storage room at the park.


After breakfast, group up for briefing.  Took the day tour to the caves, this trip cost about RM30 (inclusive of longboat ride, tour to Penan longhouse market, caves of the wind and Clearwater cave).  You can skip this tour but you will have to wait for others in the longboat coz it's the same route heading towards Camp 5.

The other group members for our morning tour.


Heading to our first destination in this long boat along the Melinau River.

First stop is the Penan longhouse market at  Kampung Batu Bungan Mulu.  You can get local crafts here, handmade bracelets, bags and etc.



Somebody missed Cave of the Winds to return to the airport to collect her backpack.  Bummer.


The longhouse market and airport wasn't so far away, probably 10 minutes.  Thanks to our guide, Stan for arranging this.


Next stop was the caves of the wind.  Please bring along your headlamp, it was a bit dark in the cave.  My phone camera didn't manage to capture the beauty of this cave.

 



The area where you can feel the wind as you enter the gate.



Clearwater cave.  Where visitors can chill and swim at the area.

Longboat parking area.

You make your way up the stairs to this cave.  Strong smell of guano.



Packed lunch from park cafe and my friend brought Kiwi for us.  You will have to bring along your rubbish coz this place doesn't have any bins.  There's toilets though.


Things needed at Camp 5
  1. Sufficient amount of food and clothes for 3D2N, no cafe available at the camp but there's a kitchen with utensils.  
  2. Enough drinking water for Mulu Pinnacles climb.  You will need at least 3 litres of water for this climb.  Short distance but it will work all your body.  Don't worry, drinking water available if you wanted to top up your water bottles.  There's also empty 1.5 litre water bottles available to carry along for Mulu Pinnacles hike.
  3. Camp 5 is an open space, each room can accommodate around 12 pax.  If you're a light sleeper, bring earplugs.
  4. Fried rice is available for RM15 at Camp 5.
Our journey to Camp 5 is a 40 minutes boat ride to Kuala Litut.  If you're lucky and the river level is high, you will arrive without pushing the boat.


The starting point to Camp 5.  From the starting point is a 9km walk through jungle trail, passing through 2 hanging bridge.  It takes about 2 to 3 hours for a fit person to reach Camp 5, not so fit people might take 4 - 5 hours.  There may be leeches along the trail route (except dry season).  Fret not, these leeches are tiny.  You will return to the same point after 2 days.


Took me almost 3 hours to get there.  Arrived, showered and had a cup of milo.

I brought with me a bunch of 3-in-1 coffee and milo
Accommodation is basic, with bathrooms, kitchens, dining room and five rooms with raised sleeping platforms.  Sleeping mats are provided but visitors are required to bring their own bedding.  Eating facilities at Camp 5 are self-catering with an equipped kitchen that provides gas and utensils for cooking and eating.  You need to take enough food for 2 dinners, 2 breakfasts and 2 lunches.  Some snack foods such as peanuts, chocolates and soft drinks are on sale at the Camp.

Dorm area.


Toilet and showers

 There's 2 bins near the kitchen area.  1 for recyclables and the other one for other rubbish.



Staff quarters
 Less than 1km, you can visit the Gorge.  We didn't get to do this.


Chilling at the dining area.  Yes, there's a kitchen too.

Mosquito net is available for rent at RM10 per night.  You may opt for renting it from the park but you will have to carry it all the way to Camp 5.  We have our sleeping bags with us.  Don't leave any valuables at the station. 


So many bees!  Make sure you wash your clothes thoroughly to avoid bee swarms around it.

 

I got stung by a bee from trying to grab my clothes and dry at a different location heheh.  Thank god I had allergies medicine with me.
 

Cooking dinner.  Vegetarian instant noodle with fresh vegetables and eggs.




Briefing for the Pinnacle climb before calling it a night.


A climb is cancelled if it rains. 
- to be continued -

    2 comments:

    1. Interesting trip. Good that you are able to cook at the place. I hope your hand has fully recover by now.

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      Replies
      1. Hahahahha wait u see part 2. More epic. Struggled writing this. Too long ๐Ÿ˜‚ yeah my hands recovered for next post after I take time snacking haha.

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