I was in Malaysia visiting the family a few weeks back.
We, Malaysians love food and unlike in the western world where the host asks “Would you like a drink?” when you go to someone’s place, in Malaysia, especially when visiting relatives, the host will ask, “Have you eaten?”. So yes, there were a lot of eating sessions. Catch up sessions too of course, but always over a nice meal.
Midway through my holiday, I knew I had put on quite a bit of weight but instead of going to the gym and getting on the treadmill which is very boring, I opted for the less common route: cave trekking at Gua Tempurung!
“Gua” is cave in Malay, whereas “Tempurung” is the shell of the coconut. I have no fun facts about the origin of the name but my guess is, the name is somewhat associated with this: when you crack open a coconut in half and place the tempurung upside down, it becomes like a dome/cave. But then again, that would apply for all tempurung/caves too!
The first part of the tour was not guided. We walked along concrete path, marveling at the interior of the cave, all by ourselves. I was expecting the guide to explain some fun facts about the cave. Nothing. He just walked on and gave us time to look around on our own and to catch up on him later.
The paved route was easy. If you consider climbing a thousand steps easy. Well, close to a thousand.
The photo below shows the entrance to the wind tunnel (platform 4) where we met back with our tour guide, Jeffry. You can really feel the breeze! It’s like it has a built in fan!
Then at one point, at platform 5, Top of the World, we slipped through the railings and went off the beaten track. This was when our adventure started.
At Top of the World, we were literally at the top of the cave. At one point, we could even touch the roof!
Jeffry reminded us of how dark the cave was. “Switch off your flashlights/ head torch” he said. “Close your eyes, open your eyes, close your eyes, open your eyes. Did you see any difference?”
NO! It was pitch black!
Jeffry said, “This is serious workout. Be prepared to lose 2kg. Follow my instructions and you’ll be ok.”
2kg. Yes! I needed that! Bring it on!!!
So, for the next 41/2 hours, we walked.
Yes, we did that too, down a steep slope on our bums and with little hand grip. None of us took any photos though. The guys helped me break my fall. If not, I may have sprained my ankle or worst, broken something!
We went through very tight passages, so tight that I was convinced that I would get stuck and be left behind in the dark.
We saw amazing formations of stalactites and stalagmites.
We saw bats and had close encounters with a cave spider and scorpion.
We waded magical streams …
… that gave us super power.
You don’t believe me?
See, my brother turned into Hulk!
We sweat, we talked, we laughed, we explored, we learned and we made new friends.
We got dirty and smelled really bad.
But above all, we had FUN!
This is not a paid ad!
But, if you’re an adventure junkie who is not claustrophobic and who happens to be in Malaysia, check out Gua Tempurung!
All photos courtesy of our tour guide, Jeffry, my uncle, Khalis and my brother, Najmi. The DSLR got left behind. All photos were taken on only our smartphones so please excuse the quality!
The photo above shows the entrance fee as at July 2017. Prices may change so do check their website for the latest rates.
For the meagre RM30pp my brother and I paid and the RM15 for my uncle because he is a warga emas i.e. senior citizen, that was dirt cheap!
There are 4 types of tours, ours was number 4: GT Wet (and Dry) Tour.
If you want to do the tour that we did, come early. Last admission is at 11am. The rate includes the tour guide but it only goes in groups of a minimum of 8. Groups can be combined to make up this number.
My brother, uncle and I took a packaged tour that combined cave trekking and white water rafting, hence the minimum 8 didn’t apply to us. Besides us, there were only Kev and Frankii, the globetrotter couple who wanted to do Tour #4. So they joined us.
If your group is less than 8 but you still want to do Tour #4, you can but you will have to pay the difference in entrance fee to make up the min 8.
You can find out more about the tours at Gua Tempurung here.
What to wear
I would advice to wear long sleeve t-shirts and long trousers as you’d be crawling and sliding.
Wear good walking shoes. No flip flops. The best shoes IMO? The black rubber shoes that we got from Tesco Ipoh for RM13 a pair! (not exclusively to Tesco Ipoh. You can find them elsewhere too!).
What to bring
We came prepared. It’s really dark in the cave. Bring a flashlight/ head torch as one is not provided. You can buy one at the entrance: low quality, cheap ones but they do the job. Spare battery is a good idea.
Both my uncle and brother carried a small backpack. We brought with us a few small bottles of mineral water and some buns/ bread (you get a few mins break midway to rest and refuel). And of course, our cell phones. All went into a dry bag and the dry bag went into the backpack. The dry bag is important as this is a wet tour and you will definitely get wet!
Bring some change of clothes and a towel. You will definitely want to shower and change afterwards.
Some cash. Besides the entrance fee, you may want to buy food and drink (or a flashlight!). There are stalls at the entrance where you can procure these. If you still have far to travel after exiting the cave, some food and drink to refuel may be needed.
There are lockers at the entrance where you can store your personal belongings that you don’t want to take with you into the cave.
Safety helmets are provided.
How to get there
Gua Tempurung is in Perak, a state north of KL and south of Penang. My uncle lives in Ipoh, the capital city of Perak, so we drove there – approximately 25 to 30mins drive. If you don’t have your own transportation, I suspect the best way to get there would be by rented car or taxi. You can take the bus to the nearest town, Gopeng, and take a taxi from there.