Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bats and Caves and Batcaves

I awoke to a barking frog in my shower.

I couldn't find it, as it shut up every time I got anywhere nearby. I grumbled and headed out to my day's excursions—two "show caves" and the evening bat exodus. The hills of Gunung Mulu, or Mulu National Park, are combed with caves. Some of them are for spelunkers only, while others are for soft adventure. The show caves have been tamed with walkways, lights, and railings, so that tourists can walk safely without destroying the environment or slipping.

Several long, flat boats motored us tourists up the river, stopping at a small village for those who needed supplies (or souvenirs). Then, we continued on to dock and walk up to first Wind Cave and then Clearwater Cave.

The caves are moody and dramatic. The whole experience reminded me of being in Carlsbad Caverns or in one of the Virginia caverns. Lots of stairs were involved, but my calves could use the exercise.

I made a new friend on the trip. I'd met him last night on the Night Walk when we'd both been glaring disapprovingly at an Italian couple that was smoking by a snake we were looking at. He'd been in the US Navy when a type of GI bill had come along that enabled him to go to law school for free. He'd just gotten a job downtown in NYC, and was thinking of moving to Brooklyn Heights. I suggested he add Carroll Gardens, JC, and Hoboken to his list of options.

I forgot to ask his name.

After an hour-and-a-half break, I headed out again, this time to see Deer Cave and Lang Cave.

P-U! That was some stinky bat guano.

Just as we left the last cave, the rain started. I hurried down the hill to the bat viewing pavilion, then cowered there along with other tourists as everyone straggled in sopping wet.

There would be no bat exodus this evening.

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