Gunung Mulu is one of two National Parks in Malaysia that are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with the other being the far more traveled Kinabalu National Park. It contains dozens of caves comprising one of the top ten longest cave systems in the world (215 km long) and possibly the largest by volume. On top of its impressive caves is a forest (530 square kms) with enough flora (3,500 species) and fauna (21,000 species) to keep nature lovers (especially insect lovers) pleased for days on end.
The 2.5 million strong “bat exodus” every night is as fantastic as it sounds and even if you’re expecting it, nothing quite prepares you for an hour long stream of bats of over a dozen species gushing out of Deer Cave to consume 30,000 kilos of bugs a night.
Enough with the numbers though, here is my not so technical evaluation: It is freakin’ mind-blowing. The best time to go is yesterday, but the second best time is now!
[The following is a guest post from a fellow UNESCO fanatic named Jordan Adkins (his bio and blog link is at the bottom). I found his entries very fascinating (especially #3) so I hope you enjoy them as well. If you would also like to contribute your top 5 UNESCO sites and are a fellow travel blogger, shoot me an email: maximuz04 (at) gmail.com]
Have you ever visited a tourist site and thought it looked better in pictures? Or arrived only to be overwhelmed by hordes in tourist buses? I feel your pain! Global tourism is booming, and yet everyone seems to go to those same few places…Eiffel Tower, Colosseum, Statue of Liberty. Now this is not without good reason but we have a huge planet out there to explore. There must be somewhere we can have a little time and reflection to ourselves? Well yes there is … there are over 1000 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, most of which have very few visitors, and are spread out all over the globe. I myself have been to 200+ so far and want to help people explore the lesser-known gems. So I put together a list, from my experiences so far, of 5 Amazingly Un-touristy World Heritage Sites! Hope you enjoy, and are inspired to visit more yourself!
#1 of 5 Amazingly Untouristy World Heritage Sites:
The Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum in Malta
The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum (underground cemetery) was only found in 1902 during residential construction in Malta. Little did the workers know they had stumbled upon an enormous subterranean structure which was originally excavated in 2500 B.C.. Little is known of the incredible neolithic find other that its construction at the time was unparalleled with any other known developments on earth. Huge blocks of coralline limestone where lifted into place to create this ancient space, which was originally a sanctuary, but then became a necropolis in prehistoric times. Today it is one of the treasures of Malta and strictly guarded. Only 10 people are allowed in per hour on a limited guided tour (to prevent excess carbon dioxide and air humidity damaging the rock paintings), with no back-packs, cameras or other items. These guys are serious, and tickets sell out months in advance but WOW…It is worth it! Not to be missed!
I guess this comes as no surprise to people who have visited lately, but I am in the middle of a massive hiatus. Before now, the longest I went without posting was…maybe 2 weeks? Now, it has been a solid five months. I guess I felt like I owed some long time visitors (and new fans too) an explanation. Last September, I made a big decision to make teaching my career and decided to get a Master’s, all the while working full time. As you may imagine, 50 hrs working, 40 hours studying…something had to give and unfortunately, it was the blog that no longer fit my schedule. Don’t worry though, the plan is to come back and post more once I finished the Master’s (November) or when I got a reduced schedule at work. The honest fact is, most of the ideas I currently have for posts aren’t that good. While I still didn’t post about my most recent trip to Bali and Lombok (Indonesia), seriously, those have been done to death and in far more detail than I can possibly give. Why reinvent the wheel with a lesser product?
So anyways, as you might have guessed, I will be back, but will take a different approach. I will post far less frequently but hopefully trade quantity for quality. Let’s face it, no one wants to read another “top ten things to do in Bali,” an island with about a billion visitors a week. I am rambling but, I do want to finish a more comprehensive South Korea travel guide and will hopefully finish that by July. Thanks for the support and see ya around. Oh, I almost forgot, in the meantime if anyone has ideas for something they would like to read more about, feel free to post it in the comments or shoot me an email.
On the last post, I shared some of my favorite off the beaten path spots in the USA. It is easy to find those kinds of spots in one’s own back yard as it is more comfortable to take risks and explore. Abroad though, it takes some research, a lot of bravery, and a little luck. Here are ten places around the world which are not well traveled, but will completely blow you away.
The United States is hands down one of the most amazing places to travel. As the third largest country in the world by size and population, adrenaline junkies, road trip lovers, popular culture aficionados, and even those who are looking for places off the grid will never ever be ‘done.’ This list focuses on that last bit, as I too am a big fan of finding places ‘off the beaten path’ which give me a sense of, ‘hey I did something not often done.’ I am trusting you dear reader, to not ruin these places for me as they are some of my favorites!