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Sunday, 6 January 2013

TRANS BORNEO SOLO RIDE - DAY 12

18TH NOV 2012: BDR SERI BEGAWAN – TUTONG – SERIA – K.BELAIT – MIRI – BATU NIAH (333KM, 5.30HRS)

Around 8.30am, Bro Salim arrived at the hostel and together we rode to Tutong, stopping for some pics at the highway. The road was very good, wide and with very few traffic since it was Sunday. Actually there was a ceremony in BSB today which the ladies had asked me to join, but unfortunately I couldnt as my target for today’s ride is Bintulu, and its a long way to get there. 

View from my room at the Youth Hostel
BSB Youth Hostel: Office Ph 2222900 / 2223936
Supervisor HP nmbr: +6738873066 - Md. Firdaus, jmuas@hotmail.com

Bro Salim's bike


Brunei really hv the image as an Islamic country. For an example, while riding, I saw lots of Tasbih sign posts by the road side, such as “Alhamdulillah”, “Subhanallah”. “Allahuakbar”, which makes me humming the Tasbih melody in my mind. Even the street names were spelled not only in the normal alphabet, but also in Jawi. Thumbs up to Brunei. Malaysia as an Islamic country should learn from them. I also saw a funny sign post such as the one below. 
WHAT??? Vehicles spinning ahead? LOL...actually it means - Vehicles making a U-turn ahead
Upon reaching Tutong, Bro Salim brought me to a restaurant which was a hanging place for the Tutong Kekal Bikers. Bro G’me Dok Dok, Ruby and some others were there to join us. We had breakfast and after that, much to my surprise, I was given a souvenir from the group. I also received a Brunei police cap. Thank you....thank you so much. After that, Bro Salim took me to a souvenir place for me to buy some mementoes, and then we said goodbye. I wished to thank Bro Salim for all his help and effort in making my stay in Brunei very memorable. If u ever come to the Peninsular, promise to pay me a visit, okey.... 

Nasi Katok - There's a story behind it, and Bro G'me is very 
good at telling the story
I got a Brunei police cap...TQ bro :)

TQ all...really appreciate this
Bro G'me Dok Dok on my left (brutal uncle as my friend Liza Itchyhair called him), Ruby and Bro Salim on my right....I cant recall names of the others...
but the hospitality will remain in my heart always....
Thank you very much...


My ride passed Seria and Kuala Belait, where some parts of the road were quite bumpy. However, traffic was easy and before long, I arrived at Sungai Tujoh border check point. I hv to pay a toll of B1 before exiting the border. Crossing for both borders were easy and before long, I was already hitting the road in Sarawak.





However, my first test in Sarawak came really fast as lack of sign boards resulted me in taking the wrong way and I ended up at an offroad. At first, I thought that the road was under construction, so I rode on for 2 kilometres until instinct told me that this was not the correct way. From the first day I started my Trans Borneo ride, I very seldom used my GPS as to me, navigating my way in Sabah was really really easy bcos the sign boards were everywhere. But here in Sarawak, it seemed the other way round. So I turned on my GPS to check on my location, only to find out that the offroad was not in the map and I was actually nearing a river. 


I turned back to the main road and hv to ask people at the petrol station for direction. Fortunately I found the correct way to Lutong and continued riding towards Miri (taking the airport way). Since I wanted to go to Niah National Park, I took the inner road which was nearer compared to the coastal road. The ride was okey even though the road was pretty bumpy. Oil palm plantation and rugged chopped trees were the major view along the way. The weather had been good to me (since the rainy day from Semporna to Telupid). Today, it seems that the rain will either wait for me to pass or poured itself down before I arrived. Overall, the ride had been pleasant, minus the lack of sign boards, and I finally arrived Niah National Park at 3pm. 



I hv thought that the caves were nearby but I was informed that I need to walk 3kms to get there. At minimum, 1 hour should be spent on the caves, and then another 3kms walk back to the Headquarters. I made a mind calculation....I can walk the 3kms in less than 30 minutes, meaning at most, I will need about 2 hours to walk to and fro and to see the caves. After that, I will have to ride for another 130kms (2 hours at least) to reach Bintulu. I had been warned that the road was really bad and dangerous. The time was already 3.20pm. Meaning I wont be able to reach Bintulu before it gets dark. Hmmm...again I hv to decide, and in the end, I made up my mind to stay at the National Park’s hostel. The hostel was nice. It was actually a chalet type hostel, with 4 rooms in each chalet and 4 beds occupying each room. I hv asked to be put in an unoccupied room, but the lady put me in an unoccupied chalet, meaning I will be totally alone in the whole chalet which was located at the behind most among all the chalets!!! 


Too late to change for another room as I was in a hurry to get to the caves, so after keeping my stuff in my room, I hurriedly walked to the small pier where I need to take a boat to cross the river. 



RM1 per way


I thought the 3kms walk was on a flat surface but it was actually climbing up and down and since there was no other tourist, the jungle and the big trees seemed a little bit eerie for me. 






I walked as fast as my legs could take me, sometimes running on the plank walk, until I met a couple who told me that there were only 3 people left at the cave. I walked even faster but when I almost arrived at the cave entrance, I met the last 3 people and they were actually leaving. OMG!!! Now I will be totally alone in this dark cave. My mind was having a thunderstorm. Should I proceed, or should I quit? I hv walked this far...am I quitting now just bcos there was no one around? NO WAY!!! Honestly, I am not that brave. I was scared...but I fought the feelings and I navigated my way to the caves which I hv since long wanted to see. 




The first significant rock formation that I saw was the Trader’s Cave, which was really an extended rock overhang rather than a cave proper. This was where the birds nest and guano traders conducted their business in days gone by. 







Another few minutes walking, the West Mouth of the Great Cave came into view. At over 60m high and 250m wide, it was one of the world’s most spectacular cave entrances, leading to an even larger chamber within. On the left of the cave mouth, I could see the archaeological excavations. 






The view from the cave mouth out over the surrounding jungle was quite unique with jagged stalactites, overhangs and dangling creepers. As I ventured deeper, it gets very dark that the light available was coming only from my head light. 


Head light was in my hand to shine the walls for pic's better lighting

I'm all sweaty....
I could see lots of bats hanging on the walls. I walked as silent as possible as not to wake the bats up, but some flew and brushed me unexpectedly, which makes me screamed on top of my voice. This thus alerted more bats flying in the darkness, some hitting their wings on my face which send me running for my life as fast as I can. It was scary, yet funny. When I hv calmed down a bit, I laughed to my stupidity. I explored a little bit more of the caves. I couldnt see the famous Painted Cave as it was closed for renovation. After seeing enough, I exited the caves. 






It gets dark pretty early since I was in the jungle, even though the time was only 5pm. There were some jungle sounds which makes me feel uneasy, so I walked fast to cover the 3kms back to the HQ. Some pics taken while I enjoyed the sunset by the riverside. 

Huhhh...buaya? TAKUTTTTT!!!




Reaching my room, I then realized how quiet this place was. It was so very quiet that if I dropped a pin on the floor, I definitely could hear the sound. Then only I regretted the idea of staying here. I should hv stayed in Batu Niah town instead. I dont want to think much about it, so I went out to have dinner. 

When I returned to my room, feeling uneasy bcos of the quietness and the idea that I am all alone in the behind most big chalet, near to the jungle....something terrifying happened. The moment I put down my pouch on the table, the lights suddenly went out. It was sooo pitch dark. OMG!!! My heart was beating very fast. I whispered a silent prayer and asking the ‘whoever-is-there-in-the-room’ to leave me alone as all I want is to stay for the night, and I shall leave early tmrw morning. I looked through the window to notice that it was only my chalet unlighted, whilst the other chalets, even though unoccupied, still have the corridors lights on. The sound of my heart throbbing was just like the machine gun exploding its bullets. Perhaps it was a coincidence, or perhaps the ‘thing’ pity me or ran away after my continuous ayatul-kursi recital, that after about 1 minute, the lights came back. 

I was hesitating, should I stay, or should I leave the room? I stand still at the door for another 5 minutes, ever than ready to elope if something funny happen. My pouch and my motorbike key were in my hands. In my mind, should the lights went out again, I would leave the place right away even though I was unsure if there is a place to stay at Batu Niah town (as the dead town was already asleep at 9pm). Thank god, no funny thing happen anymore, so I got back to my room, closed the door slowly and calmed myself down. Duhhh....to many things in one day....just now at the caves, and now, here. 

I sprung back to my feet when my hand phone in my pouch suddenly rang. I was hesitating, should I answer it? How if suddenly the scene like in the movie "The Ring" happen? HAHAHA...it was actually my friend, Normah, calling. It felt good after hearing my voice and her voice over the conversation, making the room noisy for a while. When we hung up, I hv to play Nastia’s songs over my laptop to kill the silence, and I let the music on, lullabying me to sleep....

p/s: Self reminder: Download Quran recital in my lappy for future use, just in case...

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NASTIA

Band: NASTIA, Title: ANGGUR (taken from EP 'EKSPRESI')
HAK CIPTA ANITA YUSOF