Today was an early one, up at 5am hoofing it to the bus station to be there by 6am, arguing with bus drivers about which bus to take (Lambir isn’t an actual stop) and finally getting on the right bus, at a different bus station, at 7:45… but I was finally at Lambir Hills National Park bright and early by 8:30am on a Monday… putting in a full day of work! Ha.
For anyone looking for the correct bus information… ignore any blog telling you to go to the station near city center, and go straight to Terminal Bas Pujut, you can get buses as early as 6am from here to the park, although it doesn’t open until 8am. The park is about 30 minutes outside of Miri, get a bus going to Bintulu for approximately 20 MYR and then ask the driver to stop at Lambir… they’ll know what to do. To get a bus home (Miri) you just go stand on the side of the street outside the National Park, and one will come by eventually. Today I waited 15 minutes, and the return ride only cost 10 MYR.
Lambir Hills National Park is the closest park to Miri, and although it doesn’t have the famed Caved that Niah has or the Pinnacles of Mulu, it is definitely worth a visit with more than enough hiking, waterfalls and views to fill one day. Thanks to my early start I was able to cover over 50% of the park in one day reaching 5 waterfalls: Latak, Waterfall 1, Waterfall 2, Nibong, and Pantu Waterfalls as well as hiking to the peak of Bt. Pantu. In total it was a 10 mile jungle trek that was grueling, filled with leeches and mosquitos… but did I mention those views? As a bonus, there was absolutely nobody in the park, after registration I didn’t see another soul the entire time within the park. Upon sign-out (yes you must register and also sign out) I asked about how many visitors, and in total there had been 18 for the day: 12 on a tour that showed up right before I was leaving, and 6 others for the entire day. Totally worth the 20 MYR admission!
There was no staff within the park, only at registration, so signing in and out is key, as they’ll check at the end of the day 3pm to make sure everyone has left, and if someone is still missing by 4 they send out a search and rescue team. The Malaysia Parks & Rec department does not take lightly the thought of having tourists stuck in a dangerous jungle overnight. Luckily for me there were only bug, bird, leech and mosquito sightings on my trek, although several times I head loud crashing noises and some deep-low grunts coming from a not too distant part of the jungle that were absolutely terrifying. I’m assuming these were from a Borneo Bearded Pig, but Orangutans, Clouded Leopards, Proboscis Monkey, or any of the other 185 mammal species native to Borneo Jungles could have been the culprit.
The trek was strenuous to say the least. There’s something about 91 F Degrees and 86% Humidity that makes jungle hiking feel more like jungle swimming. I brought 4 litres of water for the day, and I drank 3 of them during the 5.5 hours and was out of water while waiting for the bus after completing the hike. Prior to jungle trekking these last few weeks I’d known that it was hot in the summer in Asia, but hiking for hours in the jungle has brought about a whole new perspective on civilization prior to air conditioning.
I experienced my first battle with leeches today as well! There is something very startling about biting into your PB&J sandwich (when I return home from Asia I never want to see another PB&J sandwich again!!!) lazily kicking off your shoes at the top of a peak, only to find blood dripping down your foot and a worm-slug like creature burrowed through your sock and attached to your leg. In all there were 4 in my shoes and on my socks, only two had managed to find my skin, and one was so small he’d hardly made a dent. The other guy however really latched on, and after running around on top of a mountain screaming with only one shoe on looking for a stick or twig, I managed to get him off and my ankle wouldn’t stop bleeding for nearly 20 minutes.
Note to self: understand more about leeches, how they latch, suck and when to start being a hypochondriac about the diseases I now have.
Anyways, the waterfalls were all absolutely stunning, and being alone all day trekking was definitely an amazing Indiana Jones type of experience. I didn’t see any monkeys, much to my disappointment, but all in all a really successful National Park outing in Miri! My phone did not survive the water damage it received while in Kota Kinabalu (I’ll have to write about all of that sometime soon) and so I’ve been using my Nixon which I dragged all over Asia for the first 7 weeks without using, so I’m finally getting it out and taking some shots! Only slightly better quality than my iPhone (RIP) could do, and much more hassle, but beggars can’t be choosers now, and this fancy Malaysia used phone does not have a photo quality camera.
Leg gash (also need to write a post about this) isn’t doing so great, and is pretty gnarly, and looking to be my “Asian tattoo” souvenir of the trip. And the Malaria prevention meds I started taking before heading to Malaysia didn’t sit well not at all with my stomach, and so I decided to gamble with the jungle and I’m just using lots of bug spray and being cautious. Borneo is in a yellow zone for Malaria, so not a huge risk, but not in the clear. Tomorrow I’m headed to Niah Caves National Park, and then I’m off to Kuala Lumpur and the other Island/s of Malaysia!