Alas Clearwater, I Hardly Knew Ye

It’s now March!  And I am still trying to think positive thoughts……..happy bunny thoughts.  Trying to go to my happy place.  Now regular readers will remember that a few posts ago (Making History and the Stylish Blogger), I revealed that one of my favorite things to do is to swim in a jungle stream.  Then in the last post, I featured Jane Monheit singing  “The Waters of March“.  So in this small rodent mind, it seemed obvious that this first post in March  had to be about the waters of a jungle stream., no?

In Sarawak, there is a series of limestone massifs that are protected as the Gunung Mulu National Park.  It is located near the town of Miri and near the border with the Kingdom of Brunei.   It can be reached by a short air flight from Miri.  The alternative is a day long boat ride or a three day walk.  The area is full of interesting biodiversity but most visitors come to see the cave system which challenges for the title of the largest cave (Clearwater Cave), the largest cave passage (Deer Cave) and the largest underground chamber (Sarawak Chamber).  I will post about the caves at some later point. Incidentally, this is a good place to see the speedy Pygmy Squirrel and bats.  Lots of bats. Lots and lots of bats.  Lots and lots and lots of bats.

However, Clearwater Cave is so named because it is a source of a large volume of clean clear water which flows out of the cave to form the short Clearwater River which then flows into the Melinau River.  With the entrance to the cave located 30 m up a hillslope, the start of the Clearwater River is a beautiful swimming hole which is set against a majestic limestone backdrop and surrounded by luxuriant green vegetation.  The Park has provided facilities like a viewing platform, jetties, toilet and changing rooms but this has been well done as to blend with the surroundings and do little to distract you from feeling that you are swimming in the middle of nowhere in the midst of one of the oldest forests in the world.  Puts me in the “me Tarzan” mood.

Although I felt fortunate to visit this magical place (it does feel magical, such that stories of fairies may not seem out of place), I was actually there on work assignment and had to present a professional composure as I  carried out my duties which included asking mundane questions that included questions about the “bleeding obvious”, when all I wanted was to strip off , jump in and splash around.  Alas, I could only feast on that wondrous sight and imagine in my mind,  the feeling of the cool water on my skin.  Sigh.  I will be back to enjoy your delights.

Anyway, feast your senses on the Clearwater River…….

Arriving by Boat
Surrounded by Verdant Green
Platform Overlooking the River
Sweat Bee Tickles As It Laps Up Salt
Resisting the Urge to Jump In


17 thoughts on “Alas Clearwater, I Hardly Knew Ye”

  1. Gosh Calvin thanks for posting this little slice of heaven on a night when it’s -30 something here in what is turning out to be a brutal winter. What a beautiful place – no wonder you want to go back!

  2. There is still beauty and peace in this world. I can understand the wanting to go back and get into the water. Thank you for letting me remember impromptu swims of my youth. Not in such a beautiful place but I do remember a place in Panama over 50 years ago when I swam and on the hillside there were wild orchids growing. Never saw so many in one place. What a joy.

  3. Dude…some impulses deserve to be ridden to a conclusion other than regret. Sometimes professionalism entails trying the water.

  4. were there lots of bats, LGS? I couldn’t tell from what you said. 😉 you should’ve jumped in. I think they would’ve understood. okay…happy thoughts! yes, it is a very beautiful area. I’m glad you shared the pictures, although, I doubt it did the area justice!

  5. I’m picturing a squirrel in a business suit, but aside from that I’m with you.

    While its a completely different ecosystem, I have been thinking about my swimming adventures in the Idaho Panhandle as a young adult. We were dirt poor, but it doesn’t matter when you can pull fresh fish out of the river and into the frying pan or jump off boulders into crystal clear water. I could have done without the whole “rifle waved in the face and prodded in the back”-part though. We accidently stumbled onto a “private” gold claim on public property once. Now you have to worry about stumbling onto marijuana grow operations now too. I’d rather not be compost.

  6. Janice,
    Hang in there. I envy you when spring arrives. It must be beautiful out there. I think I’d feel like I was in heaven if I lived in Banff ……..if it wasn’t for those pests that swarm around in summer…….i.e. @$#%@ tourists.

    Do share more about your time in Panama. Your swim hole sounds quite lovely too with the orchids. I also had one experience of a swimming hole with a waterfall and lots of butterflies. Unfortunately it became private property and is now out of bounds. Well, actually it was out of bounds back then too but we sneaked in.

  7. Mark,
    You are probably right but I guess there is still a stiff collared conservative below my bohemian exterior. Unfortunately, I was part of a team on a pre-arranged schedule and a swim was not factored in.

    Let’s say that you couldn’t see any bats …… but you would certainly step in their dung! Lots of dung! Lots and lots of dung!

  8. Mago,
    There should be no alligators, no crocodiles (found closer to the coast but not here) and no pirahnas. There are snakes but they usually avoid humans. No Nessie to my knowledge. But to be safe, ask someone else to test the waters first.

  9. melanie,
    I am almost never in a business suit. A shirt and tie is as far as I normally go. In the field, I am always in field appropriate clothing – cotton shirt and pants. I agree with you that having access to fish and water makes up for quite a lot. It’s a pity that few kids today have that luxury.

    You and I both.

  10. That’s really pretty. As much as you hated being there for work and not play, I hope you appreciated that you were being paid to go somewhere beautiful.

  11. As stunning as your photos and description is…my fear of water creatures with teeth would prevent me from jumping in. What a beautiful post!

  12. The images in these magnificent, almost fantasy-like photos, remind me of the hymn, “Peace like a River.” Who could resist the urge to at least THINK about jumping in?

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