Mulu, Sarawak

By Aneesah, 17 Jun 17

This is a slight throwback as our trip was in April 2017. It was a work-related trip (husband’s, obviously) and I was quite excited at the prospect of being able to come too, because:

  1. We’ve never technically had a holiday as a family. Though coming home to the West Coast (our parents’ places) sometimes feel like holidays because of uh, the level of luxury and civilisation? #sorryeastcoast #nooffense
  2. Flights! Nu’man has never been on one (he was just over two years old) and the last flight that we’ve been on was the one from London to KL right before he was born.
  3. I don’t think we would’ve had any other chance to plan a family holiday considering my pregnancy (I was four months pregnant in April).
  4. Perks of it being a work trip, namely the fact that Abi did not have to take up his annual leave (this was a four-night stay), and part of the costs involved were compensated.
  5. Mulu National Park has awesome ratings on TripAdvisor — and it’s exactly the kind of holiday I prefer ever since travelling during my student days: nature/adventure-based, with scenic views and unique experiences. I also thought Sarawak is a bit underrated as a tourist destination especially compared to its neighbour, Sabah.

Travelling/Flying with a Child

Airport sketch. We had two flights — KL to Miri, then to Mulu.

In some ways I think travelling with a toddler is easier than with an infant:

  1. He has been weaned from breastfeeding which just gives me so much freedom and takes a massive burden off my back. ^^;
  2. Entertaining him is fairly simple and straightforward. In my cabin baggage I had his snacks and biscuits, a sketchbook and pen, phone charger (he likes plugging and unplugging USB cables — even on the flight seat!) and small toys like a squishy stress ball that we throw on the floor and then chase after to kill time. (Other activities we did at the airport: push an empty luggage trolley around, went back and forth on the walkalators… :nod: )
  3. In general, I was pleasantly surprised at how kind and accommodating people were, when they saw Nu’man being worn by Abi in a carrier. Then again they probably thought he is still a baby — a colleague guessed that his age was nine months!  *_* Heh.

Alhamdulillah, a lot of the logistics involved were greatly eased by Allah.

Packing List

I had to purchase a couple of things for the trip (especially since we haven’t been on one in a while). Some were based on my research and reviews left by other visitors to Mulu.

  1. Comfortable tunic-length t-shirt for me, for the outing day where we’d be taking boat rides and going into caves. I have shamelessly been living in jubahs (long one-piece dresses) since pregnant and never had proper separates to wear!
  2. An instant hijab to replace my overworn one, I got a cheap black one made of synthetic material that won’t wrinkle and won’t show sweat.
  3. Headlamps to wear in the caves.
  4. Instant noodles, bread and serunding: there is literally one hotel in Mulu (the others are homestays) and in case we won’t be willing to pay the hotel prices for my lunch/dinners, I’d have options! It turns out though that my dinners were kindly sponsored by the training organiser too, bless them.

The last time I ate instant noodles must’ve been three years ago (again during travels)!

Things I wish I had but didn’t:

  1. A camera. My toddler managed to ruin the old Panasonic Lumix LX7 sometime ago, and I was all ready to buy a new Lumix but somehow the stars didn’t quite align and we kept the allocated budget for other things. And so we resorted to our two phones for photos. (This is also the reason I don’t have a travel video montage for Mulu. :( )
  2. A face mask. Some reviews warned that the caves stank of bat poop — and one of the ones we visited did, quite badly! :cry: I had this in my to-bring list but forgot to ask my mum for the disposable face masks she had lying around.
  3. New sports shoes. The ones from my UK days appeared fit and fine to wear, but bits of the soles literally came off throughout our outing day. :suspicious: I survived but had to throw them away after returning to the hotel.

Goodbye, shoes.

Gallery

I’ll do this photo-album style for ease of storytelling.

End

Overall, it was a beautiful experience and I’m very happy and proud to have went! General points and closing comments:

  • Very minor observation and something I didn’t expect, but as a Malay Muslim I felt like a minority! MashaAllah, there were loads more international visitors which is probably understandable — these exotic woodsy places seem more attractive to outside tourists rather than locals. This point may also be due to that fact that it’s my first visit to East Malaysia / Borneo. ^_^
  • The weather is very humid due to the rainforest setting. I had my handheld fan with me throughout the outing day.
  • Yet, nothing beats the sounds and smells of nature. We could hear birdsong from inside the hotel room, all day!
  • The tours we went along to (Clearwater Cave, Wind Cave, Deer Cave, Lang Cave) were all only moderately physically-challenging, alhamdulillah. I really appreciated the infrastructure provided like wooden or concrete walkways throughout, and clean toilets (with. toilet. paper! :dance: ). I think if I weren’t pregnant I’d be able to follow the tours 100% with no issues.
  • My favourite part was the boat ride. The rivers were so cooling and fresh and redup. It was fascinating to see the traditional lifestyle maintained to this day.
  • The tour guides recommended — and I agree — that visitors come again for like 4-5 days (instead of having just one outing day) to fully experience the more challenging (hence, beautiful) bits of Mulu, that involve hiking and spending nights in the mountain. These things are totally stuff that today’s adventurous youth would love to do!

What do you think?

I think...