We never expected to ever end up in Brunei, but after Belaga we headed for Bruneis capital via Bintulu and Miri. In Bintulu we move into a small comfortable hotel to let Borneo sink in for a moment. Bintulu is a busy town that, like Miri, flourishes due to the gas and oil wells in the area.
The covered the centre of the city within an hour and discovered a place that serves Western dishes at acceptable prices. We decide to have breakfast with bread and an egg and get a fresh pineapple on the market that we fillet and eat in our hotel room, along with a few cakes that we got on the night market. We assumed to have bought a couple of chocolate cakes, but turned out to be a brown gelatinous pastry. A bit odd at first, but not bad after getting used to. And again it is about food!
On our way to Miri, we make a stopover of one night in the Batu Niah park. The two huge caves in the park give shelter to thousands of bats and swallows. The floor of the cave is covered in some places with more than three meters of guano, bird droppings. In the caves, important archaeological excavations took place and human graves are discovered of up to 40000 years old. In one of the caves, there are even mural drawings from the first century. An important activity in the Great Cave is the collection of swallow nests that are mainly used in China as delicacy and where huge sums are paid for. The pickers balance on shaky constructions of bamboo up to 75 meters high on the ceiling of the cave to get the nests down.
When the evening falls we wait together with a few Belgians and an Englishman for the moment the bats will leave the cave en masse. But nothing happens, because of the rain there are only a small number of bats that would fly out and a one hour hike awaits us before the last boat brings us across the river, back to the camp around the headquarters of the park.
The next day at the headquarters of the park we manage to arrange transport to the main road to Miri where we arrive just in time: the bus to Miri stops for a short break. We agree on a price for the ride, throw our bags in the bus and are on our way to Miri.
Miri is a busy but relaxed city. In addition to a visit to the petroleum museum we spend half an afternoon at an Apple store to copy our photos from one USB stick to another and update the site in a small dark internet cafe, hidden in a corner of a shopping mall . In the evening we get ready for a small celebration, because exactly ten years ago we began our relationship. Two half litres of weizen, soup as a starter, porcelain dishes and chairs with cushions, on to the next ten years and on to Brunei!