|The Caves of Gua Tempurung|
We departed from Singapore in two groups - one by car and the other by air, to meet in Kuala Lumpur where we would spend the night before our trip proper began. Our plan was to spend two nights in the highlands, before moving to Ipoh for the night, then making our way back to Singapore. Food, fun and friendship were all on the agenda.
But first, we drove off to Gopeng, the launch point for the caves of Gua Tempurung. There's a pretty good write-up on the caves and their origins here, so I'm not going into all that detail. Suffice it to say that these limestone caves were created many thousands of years ago, discovered by man and used to mine tin, hide during wars and during the Malayan Emergency period, before becoming one of the major tourism draws in the state.
Indeed, the caverns are magnificent. Soaring caverns, stalagtites and stalagmites can be seen in this cave and I can confidently say I’ve been to the top and bottom of the caves. There are four alternative treks, ranging from the easy one to toughest. We were on the third option, considered "Exciting and Challenging". The first part was the “easy” part, where we walked into the huge cavern, bigger than any cathedral. Stairs - lots of them - take us up to the top of the cavern, so near we could *almost* touch the ceiling. Water drips slowly, and we see where stalactites/stalagmites are forming slowly, over millions of years and slowly meet, thicken and become massive pillars.
Then we walked down all the stairs to reach the bottom of the cave. Here we squeezed through little tunnels, to where the underground river flows through the "caverns measureless to man". We had to crawl through in places, on elbows and knees through the water-filled tunnels to reach the larger caves beyond. And then we came to a point where we had to slide down the side of the cavern. Shall we say that I was exceedingly grateful that the guide was there to catch me at the bottom. We finally got through the last tunnel, to emerge back into the huge cavern from which we emerged back into the main campsite of the caves - wet, dirty, scraped and bruised, but with a pleasing sense of accomplishment.
We’d gone with Radak Adventures, and the guide took us back to their campsite near the caves to clean up before we went back to Gopeng. The campsite is by a large river, where we rested and waded (and had a snack). If you ever think of going to Gua Tempurung, some practical stuff to remember - bring a torch, wear old clothes, preferably a long-sleeved top and pants which cover the knees (I wore leggings) and shoes you don't mind getting totally soaked (and which dry fast). I wore my Crocs sneakers and they were perfect. If you want to bring a camera, make sure you have a waterproof bag. I left my cameraphone behind - hence the lack of photos in this post; the one above was taken by a friend of mine.
More photos of our KL hotel, and of the caves here.