Borneo Sarawak Resort ~ Malaysia Travel Pictures
Royal Mulu Resort in Gunung Mulu National Park
The Royal Mulu Resort in Gunung Mulu National Park is about a 75-minute flight south from Kota Kinabalu. This park is the main destination for tours of Borneo Island. Visitors come to tour the show caves, and visit a local village on a river boat tour. At Royal Mulu Resort, you can also take part in advanced caving, rafting, rock climbing (including The Pinnacle climb), ATV tours. Unfortunately, I didn't know about these options until I arrived..
Royal Mulu Resort Sarawak ~ Outdoor meeting area and patio
In just under an hour, we had arrived, checked in, unpacked, washed and changed, then gobbled lunch, so we could join the group taking a 3-5km (2-3 mile) hike to see the bats at two of the show caves.
We would return to the lodge at 5:30 p.m.
Today's hectic schedule, with road and plane travel, and a goodly hike and many steps in the heat, can make for an exhausting day; for this reason alone,
I would recommend adding this arrival day as an 'extra' day to your tour.
How lovely to be able to arrive midday, have a leisurely lunch, and relax around the pool or indulge at the spa.
Traditional Sarawak Dancer at after- dinner show Royal Mulu
I spoke to one guest the next day, who said, "We have a fellow with us who is 80 years old, and he's exhausted.
Most of us in our group are in our 70s. That hike yesterday, on a travel day, was just too much!"
The hotel grounds and buildings are linked with a wide boardwalk, all about 20 feet above the swampy jungle growth.
Of course, I asked about the incidence of malaria (I had elected not to use antimalarials - see Borneo Sandakan page) but with all the water around the resort, I had to ask again.
"No," said Richard, our guide. "There are five million bats here, and they eat all the insects for miles around."
The Royal Mulu Resort layout ~ a Brief Description:
The main building -- the lobby, bar and dining room -- overlooks the river and the sheer limestone cliff on the far side, and faces the swimming pool on the opposite. At night, floodlights illuminate the cliff face, and hundreds of bats could be seen swooping and scooping any and (one presumes) all insects. The dining areas seemed to be separated, with one section for group tours and one for independent travellers.
The Mulu spa rooms are accessed by following a series of boardwalks towards the far end of the complex; though the resort web site (royalmuluresort.com) pictures show what seems to be a fairly compact complex, it is actually quite large. I managed to fit in a massage, a facial and a reflexology treatment, but there are many more services offered.
Gunung Mulu Tale about Climbing The Pinnacles at Mulu National Park
I spoke with one spa client, a girl whose knees were scraped and whose arms and legs had many scratches.
She said she'd been studying in Sarawak for three months now, and had just spent a day climbing the Pinnacles * and another day climbing down.
Before coming here to the Royal Mulu resort, she said she stayed two nights in a nearby hostel, but now, after the climb, she said she needed some luxury.
With sudden downpours a fact of life here, bring a rain jacket or poncho for times when you are hiking or on the boat.
The hotel provides large umbrellas for trips to and from your room. One night, I had just reached the dining room when the heavens opened, and a torrential downpour drummed so loudly for 20 minutes that diners had to shout to be heard. As suddenly as it started, the rain stopped, only to start again in the night and drum the roof some more.
Overall, I enjoyed the food at the Royal Mulu
The meals at the resort suited me, but food reviewing is highly subjective, so here are a few dishes to give you an idea. If you are well-travelled, as most guests to Sarawak are, you will most likely enjoy your meals.
For one lunch, I tried the Asian style buffet, including noodles, oyster mushroom salad, bok choy, coleslaw and a very good chicken noodle soup.
Another lunch included thin, tender slices of roast beef wrapped around white asparagus in a vinaigrette with honeydew melon cubes. A clear broth soup with bok choy-like greens was excellent.
At dinner one night, I tried a Spicy Creole style chicken -- tender chicken portions, skin-on, in a hot chili sauce. But the Coq in the Coq au Vin was downright chewy, as was the chicken in the Chicken Kiev. A good assortment of salad bar items, noodles and vegetables, and, for dessert, some cheesecake and tea.
Breakfasts were good, too, with something to suit most everyone according to their custom -- American, British, German, Asian. I had omelets, noodles, home fries, sliced ham and cheese, fruit, cake and toast. All that walking and fresh air works up a hearty appetite!
Another group of Traditional Dancers Royal Mulu Sarawak Borneo
After dinner, the traditional cultural show performers entertained us in the dining room.
Their costumes are quite wonderful and elaborate.
A stage area is set up in front of a mural at one end of the dining room (furthest from the buffet).
When the show is over, the performers pose for photos.
I recognized some of the performers as those who were also wait staff.
Water, Internet in Sarawak
The water at the resort is from the Melinau River right outside the dining room.
I was told that it is collected, filtered, and chlorinated, and so is quite safe, but that the hotel recommends guests buy bottled water for drinking.
At the entrance to the resort, there's a Security kiosk, and staff seem to know who is a guest and who is not, and ask for your room number as ID.
Internet is available here, but it was costly for casual email checking -- 1 RM (about 30 US cents) per minute, so 30 minutes would be 30 RM or $10 US -- so internet works out to about $20/hour, which travellers know is very high. I felt I could wait till I got back to KK.
My room at the Royal Mulu resort Sarawak
This photo shows my room at the resort. I stood near the entry door to take this picture; the back balcony overlooks the river.
As you can imagine, it is very spacious. Including the ensuite bathroom (rear, left, out of frame), the room measured roughly 30 ft by 13 ft.
Some of the 180 rooms at Mulu overlook the river; called Royal Suites, they are larger than this one.
Note that there is NO mosquito netting over the bed -- usually that's a sign that insects are not a problem here.
Tea, coffee and a kettle are provided in each room, and I was able to make hot cups of soup, noodles and oatmeal for late night snacks. Each room has television, and air conditioning. I found the room very clean, though one morning, I found a millipede who wanted to shower with me.
A Puzzle : Things that bark and bump at night in the Borneo jungle
The second night, I awakened around 4 a.m. to the sound of intermittent barking, as if a small, annoyed terrier was in a corner of my room. Of course, it made no sense for a terrier to be in the jungle, but for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what else it would be, though I'd heard that some small frogs can make a barking sound.
I didn't really want to spend the night with either dog or frog. Armed with my trusty flashlight (see safety and comfort tips page), I put on my shoes, and tiptoed around to turn on various light switches, all the while keeping an eye on the armchairs, from where the barks seemed to originate.
Every time I took a step, the floor creaked, and set off a new round of angry yips. I made my way towards the chairs, and shoved them aside -- nothing! As long as I didn't move, the barking stopped. I gave up and went back to sleep.
Next morning, as I readied for breakfast and the cave and river tour, this barking sound kept time to my footfalls. In the daylight, through large seams in the wood floors, I could see the swampy jungle below.
Amazing, that with all these openings and the lack of window screens, more insects didn't come in to visit. I gave thanks to the voracious appetites of the bats! When I met Richard, our guide, I told him how puzzled I was about the barking sounds, and imitated the barks for him.
Immediately, he replied, "That's a gecko. He must be outside your room or under the floor boards."
"A gecko? Those lizards? They bark?" said I. "I don't believe it! Has to be a dog!"
"No, that's a gecko," he said. "Likely about a foot long. That's the sound they make."
The gecko barked until early evening; About then, I heard a rattling sound out on the balcony, the same as the rattling sound I had heard the night before -- as if someone in the adjacent room had dropped wooden clothes hangers.
That first night, I hadn't yet realized that I was in an end unit, and there WAS no 'next door' on that side. I turned on the balcony light, but could see nothing. Perhaps the rattling was the gecko out hunting.
If so, he must have been successful, and full from his dinner, as I heard no more barking.
Leaving Borneo Sarawak Resort ~ View out the airplane window
View of the South China Sea. Again, this picture taken of the view out the airplane window with a SLR film camera is not good quality, and I am sorry.
But I wanted to show the many rivers interlacing the landscape.
We are approaching the coast of the South China Sea on our way north to KK (Kota Kinabalu), soon to be over Pulau Tiga, the location of the first Survivor show, in 2000.
Pulau Tiga now offers two-day, one-night package holidays from KK that offer the Survivor ambience, from what I understand.
If anyone has been there, please post a comment below and tell us what you thought of it.
The meandering rivers were richly brown with silted mud from the heavy rains. Keep an eye out the window (east, left side) of the plane when you are close to Mulu Resort and airport. There are good views of the dramatic steep cliffs that rise from the lush jungle and rainforest, including * The Pinnacles, on Gunung (Mount) Api. They are over 5 million years old, and accessed by a half-day boat ride, then a 2-3 mile hike to base camp. Then, for serious climbers, the fun starts. Ask about these treks at the resort or park office.