sign in a cave in Laos

28 December 2015

Gua Kelam 2 train no longer running

The train in Gua Kelam 2 in Perlis is no longer running. Apparently it ceased operation in 2013. Although I have never been on it, I have been into Gua Kelam 2 many times, before the train project even started. I was with the Malaysian cavers who discovered the cave in 1992. And I was with the team who later surveyed the cave. In 1996 and again 1998 British Cavers also explored the cave, see Axbridge Caving Group report and the 1998 report.

A report about the train was published in Bernama 28 Dec 2015. I will reproduce it here as the Bernama reports don't stay on their www.

Safety Factor Cited For Discontinuation Of Cave Train Service

KANGAR, Dec 28 (Bernama) -- Safety of the people has been cited as the primary reason for the discontinuation of the train service in Gua Kelam 2 (Cave of Darkness 2) in Kaki Bukit that ceased operation in 2013 after a three-year run.

Perlis Tourism Committee chairman Abdul Jamil Saad said today a study by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health and the Public Works Department found that the cave walls would not be able to withstand the level of the train vibrations.

He also said that the state government could not come up with the millions of ringgit that would be needed to strengthen the cave walls if the train service was to be resumed.

"The state government decided against resuming the train service due to the safety factor although it has helped to draw tourists to the cave," he told Bernama.

The service, then handled by the State Department of Forestry with the collaboration of the Tourism Ministry, involved a two-coach train carrying a maximum of 20 passengers per trip on a 400-metre journey every two hours per day.

Besides Gua Kelam 2, the Gua Kelam (Cave of Darkness) of 370-metre length that stretches into the Nakawan Range from Kaki Bukit town to Kampung Wang Kelian is also a major tourist draw.

It is odd that the train stopped running in 2013 yet this was only in the news at the very end of 2015.
It is also 'interesting' that one excuse/reason is "the cave walls would not be able to withstand the level of the train vibrations". I suspect this is just an excuse as there are trains in other caves around the world that don't affect the cave walls. Probably the oldest and most famous is the train at Postojna Cave in Slovenia. This train has been in operation for more than 140 years and covers 3.7 km.


The Gua Kelam 2 railway in 2010 -




20 December 2015

Tung Wah cave temple, Perak

Tung Wah goes digital!



Many cave temples are going digital! First it was flashing LED halos for Buddha. Now it's advertising signage. I saw this display on Tung Wah temple at Gunung Layang Layang near Ipoh, in Perak, Malaysia. The temple is up on the hill but the display is big enough to be seen from ground level.

12 November 2015

Gomantong bugs on video

Interesting piece with a video on the cockroaches and other bugs at Gomantong Cave, Sabah, See International Business Times UK, 31 Oct 2015. Donald McFarlane has been doing research there.








28 October 2015

Tin dredge Tj Tualang, Perak

The tin dredge at Tanjung Tualang in Perak, Malaysia was open to the public for a few years, from 2008. I visited shortly after it opened for tours. It then closed in 2012 and there were fears that the dredge was sinking. Last time I saw it, in Aug 2015, the whole area was fenced off.



Over the years a lot of money had been poured into projects to try and save the dredge and restore it for tourism. In Oct 2015 a piece was published in NST saying a company had been entrusted to again restore it. See article in Ipoh World blog.

27 October 2015

Development at Ao Nang, Krabi, Thailand

I'm back in Krabi again. I'm in Ao Nang and it's been a year since I was last here. Each time I come there is more development, but it's still not too bad. However I notice they are now developing the areas by the hillsides.



One main feature of Ao Nang is the large limestone hill running parallel to the main road leading to Ao Nang beach. There is more development closer to this hill. And this means more roads cutting through the land. Google Earth image -


I always take more photos of the hill every time I come to Ao Nang! The view from my room -

The view from the beach -







3 October 2015

Liz in Malay Mail Sept 2015


17 July 2015

Rubbish dump at Gunung Lanno, Perak

I had a letter published in Ipoh Echo, No 216, 16-31 July 2015, about the rubbish dump at Gunung Lanno, in Perak, Malaysia.

Rubbish Dump At Gunung Lanno


 Topic > Letters
The article on waste management in the last issue of Ipoh Echo, 215, mentioned 1629 illegal dumpsites. I wonder if the rubbish dump at Gunung Lanno is a legal one. I first noticed it last year, when I saw a lot of egrets flying around and resting in the trees. I went to look at the birds and realised they were all flocking around the site of a huge rubbish dump. It is located in a secluded valley of Gunung Lanno. I can remember when that valley was in its pristine natural state. It was a beautiful place. Although no caves are known inside the valley, so are some in the surrounding area.
I went back again this year and the dump was still in operation with lorries going in and out. There is no signboard outside so I don’t know if it is an authorised site.
Liz Price

Tags : Ipoh Rubbish Dump216,

4 May 2015

Gua Tempurung price increase

Gua Tempurung has jumped on the greed band wagon and has introduced dual pricing, for Malaysians and foreigners.

Since the introduction of GST on 1 Apr 2015, Gua Tempurung started dual pricing, for locals and foreigners.
For example the cost of Tour 3 has increased from RM11 to RM40 and add on GST at 6% makes the price RM42.40 for foreigners.
See letter on Ipoh Echo 211.

I hope foreigners will boycott the place!

Pre GST prices -


20 April 2015

Bukit Bunuh meteorite site, Lenggong, Perak

Not a cave site, but it is related to Malaysian archaeology and the Lenngong Valley in Perak, so I will post it here rather than on my non-cave blog.

Bukit Bunuh is in the Lenggong valley, Perak, Malaysia. The excavation site at Bukit Bunuh was dug about 2000 and revealed stone artefacts, and the litho workshop was dated at 40,000 years. Prior to these finds, the oldest site in the Lenggong Valley was said to be at Bukit Jawa, up to 200,000 years old -

The Bukit Bunuh site later revealed stone artefacts such as handaxes and chopping tools. They were found embedded in suevite rock, which formed as a result of the impact of meteorites.




These were then dated at 1.83 million years old. The Malaysian researchers then claimed that early man had existed in Southeast Asia, specifically in Malaysia more than 1.8 million years ago. They then suggested rewriting the "Out of Africa" theory.

labels L-R hammer stone, hand axe, flake tool

hand axe 1.83 myo
The Universiti Sains Malaysia researchers said this is evidence of the oldest prehistoric man in Southeast Asia, at 1.83 myo. It is older than the Sangiran site, Java, Indonesia, 1.2 to 1.7 million years ago.

According to Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mokhtar, the handaxe, made from a type of quartz found in river beds, is the first of its kind found in this region, making it the oldest artefact found in the world.

The whole thing is controversial. USM are making these claims but they haven't been independently verified. Nothing seems to have been published in international journals.

The date of impact is given as 1.83 million year ago, "using a fission track dating method in Geochronology Lab in Japan, Tokyo". In most reports there is no error margin given. So it could mean between 1.825 and 1.835 million year ago. There is however an error margin in this report from Archaeology News ,  1.83 ± 0.61 million year ago. It means that the meteorite hit earth between 1.2 and 2.4 million year ago.

In July 2012 (USM) announced they would "register the archaeological location which is of international status, Bukit Bunuh as one of the world’s meteorite impact sites". However by mid 2014 it was still not on the PASSC database. And as it didn't make the Malaysian news I guess it hasn't happened. It seems they are having to get new data before they can register it.

The site is in a huge oil palm plantation and there is no access. I was able to go there in 2014. There is no mention of it being the Bukit Bunuh site except for this sign.



Once inside the gate it was a case of pot luck in choosing the right track to take through the vast estate. We stopped to look at rocks



We saw a man doing some work and he kindly directed us to the dig site where the original excavations were done -



We then drove around
 
 
Looking towards Bukit Bunuh from the Perak River -


From the Lenggong Museum -
 
 
© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission



16 April 2015

Little Foot & Lucy v Perak Man and Niah skull

Malaysia's oldest human remains are the skull at Niah, dated at about 40,000 years, and the complete skeleton of Perak Man which is about 11,000 years old. See my website.
The oldest 'confirmed' site of  human inhabitation in Malaysia is in the Lenggong Valley in Perak, said to be 200,000 years old (Bukit Jawa). And there is the controversial Bukit Bunuh meteor impact site that Malaysians claim to be 1.86 million years old, although as far as I am aware, no scientific reports have been published since the find in 2000.

Even if the age of Bukit Bunuh is correct, it is still far younger than the finds made in Africa.

The most famous African fossil is Lucy, from Ethiopia, a species of Australopithecus afarensis.

Little Foot, a member of the species Australopithecus prometheus / Australopithecus africanus, was found in the 1990s in the Sterkfontein Caves in South Africa. The nearly complete Little Foot fossil skeleton has recently been re-dated with new techniques and is roughly 3.7 million years old. It was the hardened sediments surrounding the fossil that gave this reading. If the skeleton is the same age, this means South Africa has the oldest existence of human evolution! However there is the possibility that the skeleton itself is not as old as the sediments that surround it.

Both species blended ape-like and human-like traits but with different features. They lived about the same time. However Lucy herself lived about 500,000 years later than Little Foot. Little Foot is also female and according to researchers, was bigger and taller than Lucy.

Little Foot has well over 90% of its bones intact, whereas the Lucy skeleton is only 40% complete and lacks a head.

They both come under the Homo genus. Our species of Homo, Homo sapiens, only appeared about 200,000 years ago.

It is interesting that at least two Australopithecus species lived at the same time in different parts of Africa, about 3.67 million years ago. Maybe there are more waiting to be found...........

See full reports in Nature (published online 1 April 2015 and Nat Geog News.

Archaeology at Krabi, Thailand

The popular tourist destination of Krabi in southern Thailand is surrounded by limestone hills and islands and there are many caves. It is also an archaeological site. I've blogged about it a few times. 

There was an interesting article in the Bangkok Post travel section on 7 April 2015, "Krabi's hidden wonder. The province is home to several major archaeological sites, some of which are under threat from human activity ".

It is worth seeing the whole article,
Krabi's hidden wonder | Bangkok Post: travel

And my blogs on caves and areas mentioned in the article, see my links in the labels list on the right of the page, Krabi, Phi Hua To tham, Bokkhorani .

5 March 2015

Gunung Kanthan & Lafarge media reports 2015

For the last 2 years, I have been keeping a record of all the media reports concerning Lafarge quarrying Gunung Kanthan in Perak. I will continue this list in 2015.

See the list for 2014 and 2013.

--

The Star , 18 Feb
Expert: Little being done to protect hunted serow

The Star , 5 March
Lafarge’s encroachment into eco-sensitive areas causes alarm

The Star , 7 March
Working to conserve heritage

The Star , 11 March
Working towards biodiversity conservation

The Star , 4 June
Lafarge Kanthan expansion

4 March 2015

Gua Naga Mas is now a temple cave

Whilst I was looking around the industrial estate surrounding the southern end of Gunung Lanno, I noticed there were flags up on top of Gunung Pua. The main reason I had gone there was to see the
at the small hill next to Gunung Pua (where Gua Naga Mas is located), as it is being quarried. It is the southern end of that hill that is being quarried, right next to Gunung Pua.

I went to investigate the flags and found a new temple. It is called the Erawan Shrine Cave.



There is a large car park, which is lined by shrines housing individual deities - Chinese, Thai Buddhist and Hindu. And there is a separate Erawan shrine It seems it only opened - or at least had a ceremony, in Oct 2014.


It was midday on a really hot day so I had no intention of climbing the stairs to the top of the hill.

The cave is now gated and fenced off, with a large area outside with flooring and seats. The cave used to be a 'house' and was packed full of 'rubbish/recyclables'. Now it has been turned into a shrine with new flooring.

There are now concrete steps leading up to Gua Naga Mas. The main chamber has a few statues (Buddhist, Chinese and Hindu) and flags. Luckily the side chamber with the fossil bones hasn't been touched.




The views from the cave have changed considerably over the years. 2004 and 2008 there was still plenty of greenery


but this had changed by 2015



I wonder if the temple will help to save the hill, considering the one immediately next to it is being quarried.

[Apparently there is a replica of the Naga Mas fossil in the museum at Putra Jaya. A short video on youtube.]

For  more on Gua Naga Mas, see labels on the right column.

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© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

3 March 2015

Another Perak limestone hill being quarried, near Lanno

In Feb 2015 I noticed the small hill immediately north of Gunung Pua was being quarried. This hill is unnamed, and is Prk 11 on my register and No 35 in the MNS 1991 report.

The hill used to be totally covered with vegetation. Now the quarried side is clearly visible from the old trunk road. On the east side is Gopeng Kalsium (GK). This whole area is being taken over by a huge industrial estate.

Here are some scenes from Google Earth over the years, you can see the increase in development in the area.


2015 view where the quarrying can clearly be seen on the right side

 
 
 
 

2 small caves have been revealed

Hill from east side


 
A video I posted on YouTube -

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I went back on 21 March and there wasn't much change, just a flatter top from 28 Feb -