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Christmas, caves, turkeys and pythons

December 26, 2012

So what is the connection between christmas, caves, turkeys and pythons?  Myself I am not sure but just a few things that come to mind as things that have happened over the last few days.

I guess it’s probably best to go in chronological order and start with caves.  These are the Niah Caves located in Niah National Park.

Hunting for birds nests in Niah caves

Hunting for birds nests in Niah caves

It all started out with a bunch of itinerant sailors thinking it would be a good idea to get a rental van with Tony as driver and head out to the Niah Caves.  So, I got everyone up at 0600hrs one morning and by 0630hrs we were on the road to the Niah Caves.  We did stop for breakfast on the way.  Some managed to wolf down some laksa others had naan with curried dahl and others simply a glass of cold water.  We managed to make it to the beginning of the 3km trail by 0800hrs.  We wanted to take advantage of the cooler morning weather and do the trek up before the real heat of the day.  However, without wind and temperatures in the mid 30s we were all quite sweat soaked by the time we arrived at the caves.

They were worth it although a lot of people favour the Mulu Caves which are located a 45 minute flight from Miri and into the central Borneo region in Sarawak.  We all agreed that these were quite spectacular and have enough history behind them to prove to be quite haunting. I cannot imagine living up in these caves and heading out to hunt each day.

Inside the Niah Caves

Inside the Niah Caves

Ah well don’t have to worry about doing that considering it happened about 40,000 years ago.  Today the caves are a major tourist attraction but are also used in the harvesting of birds nests for the soup they make in China.  A very lucrative business and for which there are many caves in Borneo which are a major source for this raw material.So, at the end of the day, which came early, we headed back across the river and to the national park headquarters where we had parked the van.  I do have to compliment the Malaysian government for their parks. All three of the National Parks we have visited have been very well maintained.  They provide a very reasonably priced vacation spot for Malays and tourists with camping spots and for those  looking for a little more comfort air-conditioned cottages.

Returning from Niah Caves

Returning from Niah Caves

So it was time to leave and make the trek back to the marina. However, seeing as we had a vehicle and the marina is quite a way from town we decided that to stop at the foreign import store to see if we could pick up a turkey for a Christmas pot luck!

We were in luck.  Yes, there sat waiting for us the most beautiful but not large, 4kg, butterball frozen turkey.  We snatched it up, paid for it and said we would be back on Monday to pick it up.

So that’s how the Christmas pot luck got started. Yes, Connie volunteered to organize the menu, solicit people to participate and then she volunteered me to conduct the Theiving Secret Santa.

So Christmas day saw one boat shoe-horning the 4kg turkey into their oven, others peeling potatoes and still others dreaming up what great recipe to share from their country.  In the end we had people from Australia, Korea, Canada, United States, Holland, Germany, Philippines, France, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and New Zealand. A great cosmopolitan group of participants.  The food was excellent and believe it or not there was still turkey left over after everyone vacated.

Christmas Pot luck in Miri Marina

Christmas Pot luck in Miri Marina

I know you have all been waiting to find out what is the python part.  Well, it’s really not that exciting considering we have been dodging crocodiles in anchorages, rats on the shoreline, macaques in the trees, sharks in the water but now we have to be worried about pythons on the dock.  Yes, pythons are becoming a common sight on the docks.  For some reason they like coming down the ramp at the marina and sunning themselves on the docks which get very hot during the daytime due to the dark wood on the pontoons.  No-one yet has had a major confrontation but it’s certainly in the back of everyone’s mind when they walk the docks at night.  And of course, no-one wants the pythons to use the mooring lines to climb along and into the boat in the late afternoon.  One boat has already had a stray cat come onboard to have its kittens!

For us it’s time to head out. We are off to Kuching shortly and now just waiting for the right weather to show up.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. cpbl permalink
    December 27, 2012 05:26

    Happy Christmas from Montreal, bold travellers! It’s blowing like nuts and snowing up to 50 cm of cold, dry stuff today… so my travel plans are on hold. Tell the sunning pythons about *that*!

  2. Mariann Olchowy permalink
    December 27, 2012 14:52

    Dear Tony and Connie

    A very merry happy new year and season ahead, I wonder how this year will unfold. Your posts are exciting and I can’t imagine how you navigate at night with huge posts popped up right before you in the night! Wow, you guys are amazing.

    We had a beautiful Xmas time with Chloe, Stephen, and Yvonne and David and the girls, it was so good to be together. They left yesterday and I have been nostalgically melancholic even a day before they left so its taken awhile to work its way through but I’m starting to let go albeit slowly. We had nine people staying here all together and this place is so spacious it didn’t seem at all crowded so just a footnote, that we have lots of room when you all decide to visit.

    The weather is now perfect, low humidity, cool nights, nice nice.

    I am trying to get more involved in the community so have volunteered at the local thrift store, however today I went over for what I thought was my shift but, the woman I was assigned with wasn’t there, crushed!

    Spanish lessons resume January 7th, I feel like I’ve already forgotten key verbs. Shit.

    My friends from DC arrive December 31 for 10 days and I’m hoping we can drive to guadalaraja for a few days while they are here.

    Travel safe and happy, Love mariann

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