The Land Below the Wind

Nepenthes raja, the worlds largest pitcher plant. This is an old pitcher, fresh ones are really beautiful

We set foot on “the land below the wind”, Borneo, 2 weeks ago. Time has absolutely flown by since our arrival here. We spent a week at Kinabulu National Park in Sabah and then took a short flight to Mulu National Park in Sarawak. Both parks are UNESCO world national heritage sites. Mulu is a spectacular landscape, dominated by karst features such as limestone mountains, large caves and razor-sharp limestone pinnacles. We explored some of the more stunning caves and hiked a grueling 2.4 km straight up to view the pinnacles. Deer cave has the largest cave passage in the world and clearwater cave is the longest (157 km!). Deer cave is home to 3 million bats and every evening bats stream out of the cave, taking on corksrew and ribbon shapes as they hit the sky. This bat exodus was incredible to watch. Bat hawks soared around as well trying to grab a meal on the wing. Our first night in the park we spotted a tarsier!!! THis is a small primate with huge eyes and long toes. One of a tarsier’s eyes is larger than its brain!
Kinabalu NP is a botanists dream and has the largest mountain in Borneo: Mount Kinabalu at 4,000m. A very popular tourist attraction is climbing to the summit, but the trek is very pricey. It would of costed us about $700 to hike to the summit! As tempting as it was to do the hike, we decided not to. We were able to purchase a pass for $6 and hike to kilometer 4, and since we are rebels, we snuck passed security at 4km and made it to 6km (the entire hike is 9km, all up hill and very steep, definitely not for the unfit). Some people that do the hike hire porters (with unbelievable bulging calve muscles, wish I got a pic) to carry their backpacks up the mountain for them. The usual routine is hike to the lodge at 6km, stay the night and scale the summit at 3am to be at the top for the sunrise. Maybe next time. We found some amazing orchids (I will post some pics for you, Phyllis) and crazy, beautiful pitcher plants with pitchers as big as my head. The largest species, Nepenthes raja can hold 3.5 L of water and consumes lizards and small mammals!
Tomorrow we are heading to Pulau Tiga, 3 offshore islands, for some snorkeling/diving and some sea snake fun.

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