Definitely Not Boring

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Don Shannon

Adventure Traveller

  1. Age: 27
  2. Nationality: USA
  3. Where was your adventure?: Malaysia
  4. How many days was it?: 1
  5. What type of adventure?: Caving
  6. Give us a general overview of your adventure:
    Gunung Mulu National Park, in Sarawak state of Malaysia, has some of the biggest caves in the world. Some have only recently been explored, and there are still many areas that haven’t been fully explored. The whole place is set in a beautiful (and insect rich) dense jungle in the interior of the island of Borneo. A few of the caves there are accessible to the average traveller via illuminated cement pathways with handrails and stairs and such, but the majority of the caves are “wild” and accessible to only experienced cavers with proper gear. My travel partner and I were a bit bored by the paved paths through the “tourist” caves, but we had no lights or other gear with which to explore on our own. Luckily the National Park offered a few “Adventure” cave tours, where they provide gear and a guide into some wild caves. Since my partner and I are adventurous, experienced rock climbers and trekkers, we figured that we would sign up for the most difficult adventure cave tour that they offered. We thought, if the park ranger says that this tour is “very difficult”, he must mean for the average joe who has never been in a cave before. But since we are experienced, surely it will be not so difficult for us, right? So we thought. We talked 2 others from the park hostel into joining us for the adventure the following day.
  7. Was it
    : yes
    Why or why not?
    This cave “tour” was insane. I have never been on a tour before where a misstep could send you to your death. I think our journey was called something like Wind Cave/Clear Creek Cave Connection. We met our guide at the park visitor center, he gave us our helmets and lights, and we set off. We began with a short journey up a river in a longboat to the cave entrance. As we entered the cave on a paved and lighted path tourist path, I worried that this “adventure” would prove boring. But suddenly our guide stopped walking down the paved path, climbed over the metal guardrail and motioned for us to follow. “OK, this is definitely NOT boring”, I thought as I saw what we were about to do. I followed our guide across a rock ledge that was sloping at a 45 degree angle into the black abyss below. And did I mention that this sloping ledge and all the hand and foot holds were covered in mud? We all made it safely across, excited (and perhaps a bit anxious) that this tour would be as adventurous as we had hoped. What followed was a little over 5 hours of underground journey, at times through caverns so large that our lights couldn’t touch the walls or ceiling, at times in beautifully decorated passages, rock climbing down short muddy cliffs, slithering down a very tight vertical chimney-like passage that was dripping with water, crossing and re-crossing a hip-deep, swift underground river while holding a rotten old rope to avoid getting swept to your death in the frightening underground rapids and falls below, then finally, emerging back into daylight. WOW!
  8. Would you recommend this adventure trip to someone else? Why or Why Not?
    I highly recommended for fellow adventurers! It’s definitely one of the most exciting and memorable days from many months of travelling. I highly recommend going on an adventure cave tour in Gunung Mulu National Park. If my description sounds too intense, start with an easier tour first. It is so cool to experience a cave in its wild, unpaved, unilluminated, slightly dangerous, state. Or, if you are not so adventurous, I still recommend the national park; it was not very crowded because it is a bit difficult to get to, and very beautiful.
  9. What do you wish you would have done differently?
    Nothing. If we had more time, it would have been a lot more interesting to reach Gunung Mulu National Park by river journey instead of flying.
  10. What kind of advice can you give to other travellers going on this adventure?
    Just hope that your guide doesn’t get hurt or pass out in there. If so, you are screwed.
  11. What type of gear did you bring?
    Just the helmet/light that is provided by the guide and a snack with water.
  12. Where is your next big adventure? Why?
    I don’t know yet. Perhaps Nepal/Tibet/China.
  13. Did you travel before or after your adventure? If so, where?
    Yeah, this adventure happened right in the middle of 3 months in Indonesia, Malaysia (Borneo), and Thailand. Just before this cave adventure we visited Sipadan Island in south-eastern Borneo. Sipadan put a huge dent in our budget, but if you are a scuba diver, it is worth it.
  14. On your adventure, what person did you most identify with?
    Huckleberry Finn

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