August 25, 2005

Niah National Park

A 4km trek to see the two caves was much easier than it could have been, not having to touch the natural ground. A raised wooden boardwalk had black lizards racing across it, beautiful mosses growing between the planks and long red millipedes that I first noticed when I was about to grab the rail, and then decided against it. A procession of 5 men passed by with heavy bags of gauno on their backs. It can be used for fertilizer, the other uses I'm not sure of. Niah is also well known for nests, that harvesters collect for the Oriental restaurants to make their special birds nest soup. Yum, I've always wanted to eat noodley strands of bird saliva!

The great cave was grand, a huge cavern, the rock surface covered in greens and reds. This is where a human skull was found aged 40,000 years old! Further inside was a narrow tunnel that led to the interior of the massive cave. Intensely white holes above let streams of sun pour through. Bats screetched and flickered as they circled in and out of the light. It was pitch black, I'm glad the fading batteries of my rental flashlight held out! Dark shadows whipped by infront of me, the indented ceiling only a few feet above my head had bats hanging upside down. How they hold onto such a smooth surface amazes me. I searched for paintings hidden within the darkness, but the only markings were white scratchings trying to cover up the "W.K. heart P.L." (haha!) graffiti. The real drawings were at the next cave over, proof cave men had lived there so many years ago. It was exciting, even though the reddish paint had faded, and the cave was quite dark, and the barbed wire and chain link fence were infront, AND it was 10m away! But still fascinating.

I have just been inspired by an Australian artist. John showed me his travel sketchbook and has made the effort (I had intended to make myself!), of making 1 painting each day. P


  1. Hey Pam,
    You aren't going to try the bird's nest soup???!!! I didn't realize until your blog that it's actually bird saliva. I thought that they were created by chefs to look like birds' nests. Funny that bat shit is so important to a community that it actually has it's own name. (Do the caves smell bad?) Would love to know what sort of new smells you are encountering in your travels. I love how the Cienfuego country side in Cuba smells sweet and tropical, and now when I smell heavy diesel exhaust, I fondly remember Guangzhou. I wish you could post smell on Flickr! Will you be posting more photos soon? Kym

  2. Bird's nest soup is expensive hear in Canada. If you can get over the thought, give it a try! Maybe it'll cure an ailment or spark some creativity :)

    btw, the dish that looks like a bird's nest isn't the saliva dish.

  3. Oh yeah, I watched a travel show and the cave rappel to collect the bird's nest is a daunting adventure itself! Have you seen it?