Wednesday, June 2, 2010


I woke up disappointed when I saw rain outside early in the morning. We had planned a day trip to Niah Caves that day. Niah Caves, located in Sarawak State in Malaysia is one of the largest limestone caves in the world. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of man's existence in the cave dating as far back as 40,000 years ago. Still undeterred we packed all essential stuff and set out around half past eight. My daughter got up very excited, since three of her friends were coming along. We carried all essentials as torches, gloves water, mosquito repellant, caps, change of clothes, and food. Two more families joined us. One of our friends being very thoughtful had booked a chalet so that we could all unwind at the end of the day.

The sun shone brightly when we left our house cheering our spirits. We reached there around ten, dumped our bags, and began our trip around half past eleven. Our group consisted of six adults and five children. A boat carried us to the other side of the river from where we started our jungle trail.

There is a 3 km pathway to be covered through the jungle to reach the cave. The pathway is unique since the walk has to be done on a raised plank which covers the entire forest. We all found the walk very thrilling as the plank was not fenced on both sides. One could even find broken planks at some places and they were slippery due to recent rain. A little slip and one could fall into the thick foliage below, or into the flowing river. The weather was humid. But we were all in great adventurous mood to bother about anything else. We were thoroughly enjoying ourselves walking amidst the lush dense rain forest. Our companions were beautiful yellow butterflies, chirping birds, two lazy turtles and a solitary black lizard. Kids in the meantime were having their share of fun walking. They were counting the empty water bottles thrown by earlier tourists on the way.

It took us more than an hour to reach the mouth of the cave called as ‘The Traders Cave’. There is even today evidence of some stalls used for trading many years ago. Entrance to the main cave is through the ‘Traders Cave’. Torches are available on rent at the reception as it is pitch dark inside the cave. We carried our torches along. But the cave exploration is not smooth as the entire path is made of wooden planks. One has to descend deep into the darkness to see the cave and again climb all the way up. The steps are steep, muddy and slippery. One of my friends slipped and fell twice inside the cave though she was wearing trainers. It is scary to walk alone inside the cave with the bats flying above. But the beauty and vast expanse of the cave is fascinating. The highlight is a particular spot inside, where beams of sunlight enter through a gaping hole on top and illuminate the bizarre rocks. It is an amazing sight worth capturing with the camera. Today the cave is home to bats and bird nests. One must wear gloves while walking inside the cave as the railings are full of bat droppings. Long bamboo poles are tied to climb bird nests. Bird nests soup is an expensive delicacy in this region.

After an hour’s tour of the main cave we climbed up to explore ‘The Painted Cave’. It is few metres away from ‘The Main Cave’. We walked through the forest and descended many steps to reach ‘The Painted Cave’. The paintings are no more visible, but it’s a tranquil place to relax after the long arduous walk. After resting for a while we walked back through the cave and the same jungle trail back to our hotel room. Each one of us was completely exhausted and hungry after the four and half hour long walk in the sticky weather. But no one complained as we all felt so rejuvenated at the end of it. We ate every morsel of food we packed. My daughter looks forward for another cave trip.

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