Necessity is in Labuan on Borneo

Eva and Jan Fr. Mack
Fri 20 Mar 2009 00:05
Our position is 05:16:48N 115:14:30E
We are jumping from one commercial harbour to the next. When you spend the night next to a huge container ship you realize that Necessity is on the small side. In every harbour we have to declare the number of containers, tons of hazardous goods, number of passengers etc. There are forms as big as the harbours, but we only have to fill in names and call sign. The nice harbour master looks at the form with some consternation, nothing there, but has to admit that, yes, that is all.
In between viewing enormous wharfs from underneath, we have seen places that are covered in the major adventure magazines. In Niah we visited some enormous caves with streams, waterfalls, lakes, bridges and ridges. Walking inside them gave a feeling of a walking in the mountains in the dark. There even were some "stars", small specs of light a 100 meters or so above us. They belong the birds nest gatherers, a group of people with a short life span. Not my words, but those of one of the park rangers. They use tethered bamboo sticks to climb straight up to the ceiling. How they attach themselves to the ceiling and move about to find the birds nests I do not know. Needless to say, birds nests of this kind attract very good prices in China.
In the excellent culture center in Kuching they had given us a description of what these swallow nests are made of and how to prepare. The nests are made of saliva and feathers. The preparations consist of soaking the nests in water and using a pincher to remove the feathers. The priced birds nests are really swallow saliva.
On to more caves in inaccessible locations. Gunnung Mulu is inland, jungle Borneo with an oasis of a resort. Beautiful and with all amenities (this part of Borneo is Christian or indigenous religions, not Muslim). The caves here are even bigger, but with bats rather than swallows. During day they sleep - and shit. You really walk on bat guano which can be quite slippery. The show starts a little before sunset when millions of bats leave the caves together to hunt for insects in the dark. A tremendous sight. This are limestone caves so there are also fantastic formations of stalagmites and stalactites (like iceicles and spikes).
As I write Bjarte and Arne has left and only Johan and I are still onboard.
Eva is scheduled to join again in the Philippines.
Jan Fr.
S/Y Necessity
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