Monday, 8 July 2013

Gunung Mulu National Park, Sarawak

After rotting at home for the first few days of the holidays, I decided to go somewhere and make the best of my short holidays.

Out of all the various destinations, I had to pick one that was adventurous and interesting, not only for me but also for my sister and parents. So that canceled any outdoor adventures leaving only those family vacation suitable places like maybe the zoo or Disneyland.     

Then out of the blue, my mum suggested that we go to Gunung Mulu National Park, Sarawak. That got my curiosity and after a quick search online, Gunung Mulu National Park had my attention. Gunung Mulu National park offers a wide range of activities ranging from adventure caving to conquering the pinnacles. So Gunung Mulu National Park it is!

This decision was made on Tuesday night and we planned to leave on Thursday morning. Very little time and so much to do. A rough itinerary was quickly planned and the flight tickets and lodging were secured that night itself. 

I'm not going to bore you to death with every detail of this trip. I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll list the highlights of this trip starting from the most exciting. Then just before I end, I'll tell you where to stay and how to get to Mulu National park if you are planning a trip. Just read on if you intend to see those details.

So at the top of my list would be adventure caving. There are 3 levels of adventure caving: Beginner, Intermediate and Advance. I wanted to do the Advance but one of the requirements was that we'll have to complete at least one Intermediate Adventure Caving session. So we did the Racer Cave Adventure Caving which was at Intermediate level. The "we" includes my sister and me. 

She was going: "Why couldn't we choose the beginner one, this is my first time!" But in the end, she proved to be an exceptionally good climber, overcoming all the obstacles thrown at her. 

 I will show you how Racer Cave looks like: just close your eyes really tightly and now look around you with your eyes still closed. That was more or less what I saw....

Nah I'm joking, the interior of the cave was beautifully dark but no good photos as it was really, really dark.

We had to climb and crawl and squeeze to get to the end and back. Challenging and fun.

The wildlife in the cave is pretty interesting too. I saw one racer snake. The cave is called Racer Cave because of the abundant presence of racer snakes.

Many spiders.

And bats. What cave would be complete without bats?

Next on my list would be the Bat Exodus.

 The flight of 3 million bats out from their cave at dusk in search of food. The way they fly out is very unique. First they'll circle at the mouth of the cave electing their leader.

Not sure how their election happens but I'm sure magic blackouts have no effect here as they are continuously enveloped in darkness.

Once the leader is chosen, the leader will then lead a wave/pack of bats out into the night. Flying over 100km and eating as much as 15 tons of bugs.

It is a sight to behold. A trip to Gunung Mulu National Park isn't complete without seeing the Bat Exodus.

And the last but definitely not the least on my list, the tours to the caves: Deer Cave, Lang Cave, Clearwater Cave and Wind Cave. 

Clearwater cave

I witnessed the majesty of the caves and learned a lot about the many formations in the caves. Pretty interesting I would say.

Out of all the photos taken on this trip, I find this photo the most special:

A photo of a Penan native woman. Her face filled with a maze of wrinkles accumulated after years and years of hardship in the jungle. Her eyes sad and forlorn starring into your very soul. I wonder what her life story is?

Another nice photo is a photo of a caged wild pig in the native village. It seemed resigned, accepting its fate to be food for men. With sad eyes and a turned-up nose posing for a last photo before sacrificing itself to satisfy the tummies of a lucky family.

Ooops! Wrong picture (there are similarities though :P). Here is the sad wild boar. 

Well, I end my story of Gunung Mulu National Park here. 

Read on if you want to know the more technical details of this trip like where to stay and how to get there.

Monday, 1 July 2013

3 wishes?

You know the feeling of being able to see the sun shining in a clear blue haze-less sky? After days of being shrouded and choked by haze, the sight of the sun is a very, very welcome sight. It is as if the bright sun is smiling down upon us saying:" Hey, everything is gonna be alright now!" 

That was exactly how I felt when we got news of a 1-week break after our End Semester 2 Examinations before continuing our preparations for the Professional Exams.

So yeah, I'm back in Melaka for the week and I'll enjoy and relax before heading back for some really serious studying. So anyone up for an expedition?

I was looking through some old files and I stumbled upon this: Shimri's Prayer Book.

Seeing as how my dad is a pastor, almost everything is prayed for, all the big decisions of life, sickness, injury and stuff. So this so called book (more of a file) is where the big decisions of my life are written down and my dad would know what to pray for me.

I have never noticed it but most of the things I do write down actually come true, one way or another. So it is like my very own wish book. I wonder how many wishes do I have left?

Let me show you what I wrote down in 2009 before my SPM and before I even joined the National Defence University to pursue my degree in Medicine and Defence Health. 

Pardon my hand writing, I have been training since birth to write like a doctor. Here, let me type the list out so you'll see it better:

1) Pray for right shoulder
2) Further studies??
3) Be a soldier in a high class country
4) Determination to study & train hard
5) Possible to go to Judo tournament in Japan 

Out of these 5 things, every single one has been granted. Judo tournament in Japan? Check! 

Further studies? Check! Determination? Check! Right shoulder? Ah here is a good story:

Not many of you know it but back in 2008 I sustained an injury to my right shoulder. It was during a judo sparring session when my opponent got me in an arm lock, being the stubborn hot headed teenager who never wants to lose, I refused to surrender and as a result my arm was over-twisted and I sustained an injury called shoulder subluxation. It is similar to dislocation but it is partial and temporary, meaning that my shoulder is not totally dislodged and it returns back to the original position after a while. And it hurts. A lot.

The glenohumeral joint is a flexible ball-socket joint. And mine is a little too flexible being able to move in and out of the socket.

This injury affected me badly, my movements with my right shoulder were severely limited. I could not throw a ball, play badminton, throw a punch, make any rotating movements without my shoulder "falling out". I lost confidence in my shoulder and thus my performance in swimming and judo slowly dwindled, becoming stagnant.

Back then, sports was a very big thing to me (still is), it defined me. So the lost of my shoulder was like losing part of me. I was stressed up and depressed though I did not show it, I kept it bottled up inside me. 

To release all the bottled up tension, I did the only thing I could: running. So when I could not swim, I ran; When I could not practice judo, I ran; when I was feeling sore and bitter, I ran. And I was sore and bitter a lot, why did this have to happen to me?!

With all the running, my stamina slowly increased and I became quite a good runner even winning silver medal in the 1,500m district level tournament. Little did I know that I was actually being prepared to become a triathlete. Imagine if I was not injured, I would have just continued being a swimmer and swimmers can't run (different muscle used). So yeah, my point is everything happens for a reason and it's cool how everything worked out in the end.

Back to my main story of the day, the prayer list. If you noticed the third item on the list: be a soldier in a high class country. Well, part of that prayer is granted, I am a soldier but in a high class country??? Positive thinking means that it is actually great news for our country! We are going to be a high class country sometime soon since I requested to be a soldier of a high class country, and I am a soldier of Malaysia. So let's all keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.

Or perhaps my handwriting is too terrible to be understood and we are all doomed to never be high class....

Here is a nice picture of my grandma to cheer you up after such dark thoughts:
My grandma beaming with her new pair of Mizuno shoes. " A thousand mile journey begins with the first step", so I may make a runner of my grandma yet. Don't be surprised to see an old woman wearing that exact same pair of shoes overtakes you during your evening run.