It is somewhat of a trek to get to Gunung Gading national park on a day trip. First you need to either get a taxi or bus to the express bus terminal on the edge of town; the taxi will cost 15 to 20 MYR whilst the bus costs 1 MYR, I chose the bus option.
The next step is to get a bus from Kuching to Lundu, this takes one hour, the bus goes at 8.30 and 11 (there are later buses but these would not allow you chance to see the park and get back in time for the return bus from Lundu (4pm). Unfortunately as I was being a cheap skate with the taxi I missed the 8.30 bus and had to hang around the bus terminal for two and a half hours.
I took the chance to grab some breakfast, now being a westerner I’m sort of used to eggs/toast/cereals for breakfast so it is quite strange to have the only options involving rice or noodles; I chose to have Laksa. Now having noodle soup for breakfast is one thing but having prawns floating about in it was a little concerning at first; still down the hatch it went, and it was pretty damn good.
Anyway I got the bus to Lundu (10 MYR (just under £2 / $3). When you arrive you either have the choice to walk a mile up to Gunung Gading national park (bear in mind that it is about 37 degrees and 95% humidity, or jump in a car with a local 5 MYR; as I had to get the later bus than I wished I jumped in a car to get some time back.
So what is at Gunung Gading park that makes it worth the journey? Well it’s main feature is the large parasitic Rafflesia tuanmudae; these flowers grow to a diameter of around a metre, and are in bloom for just 5 days following 14 months of growth. Unfortunately they don’t usually flower at the same time so often don’t get to set seed after the long wait to flower. As a biologist I just had to go and see one.
Although somethings are known about the Rafflesia life cycle, such as it is a parasite on a certain type of vine (I forget the name of it); that it attracts flies for pollination by producing a pungent smell of decay whilst in bloom; and that animals eat and spread the seeds, it is still not known how the seeds get to the vine.
Other attractions of the Gunung Gading are are the rain forest itself, and waterfalls with swimming holes.
Once inside the forest the humidity goes up to a very uncomfortable, so by the time I got to the first waterfall I was dripping so just jumped in the water. As I was now in the direct sunlight this had the strange affect of cooling the parts of your body beneath the water, yet having any part out of the water sweating!