Writing this two weeks after leaving Niah Caves does not inspire me to inspire. But, I will try. Niah Caves - what is it famous for? Well, caves that's what. The "Great Cave" is one of the largest caves in the world. In 1958 archeologists found evidence of human habitation that dated back 40,000 years. In the "Painted Cave" you can find rock paintings and small, canoe-like coffins (death ships). The caves are home to bats and swiftlets. The Penan people collect the swiflet nests, a sought after delicacy used to prepare the famous bird's nest soup. Meanwhile, the Iban people collect the bat guano, of which there is plenty. Collecting the nests is quite a dangerous job as it requires one to hang off the roof of the cave chambers on fixed bamboo poles, with a really long ways down.
For us it was a relaxing way for our knees to recuperate after huge distances of riding. A few beautiful walks and a whole lotta card games. Walking to the caves takes you thru jungle, past millipedes, lizards, birds, pygmy and giant squirrels . The cliffs from a distance remind one of a limestone "Squamish". With Durian season in full swing, people were excited about picking the durians off the ground early in the morning after a night of falling, as well as about selling, buying and eating the King of Fruit. It was in the air. The smell I mean! I even started to enjoy Durian myself( Myles). Taking a boat ride on the river and seeing a wild crocodile, 6ft was a highlight, but even more exciting was seeing a bigger one the next day as we were walking along the river trail to Niah town. This one was about 12ft long, and a possible maneater (an 8 year old boy was eaten by one last year). This does not stop some of the local people from bathing and doing their laundry in the river out of nessesity more then choice. Niah town being so close was a nice way to spend some time drinking coffee and walking off the stiff knees.