sign in a cave in Laos

4 August 2018

Gua Tambun closed again

Gua Tambun is closed again. Once again, the reason is lack of maintenance. The site was closed in July 2018.

Ever since the rock art at Gua Tambun was discovered in 1959, the site has not been looked after. Over the years the Perak state government and / or Ipoh town council have made attempts, which are more verbal than practical.

I've written about the lack of protection in 2009. The steps are often overgrown -

Ipoh City Council is supposed to be doing the latest clean up, let's see what  happens............

See more on SEAArch 17 July 2018.

9 June 2018

Cave paintings found at Ao Luek, Krabi

The Nation on 7 June 2018 reported that "More than 60 ancient paintings, thought to be around 3,000-5,000 years old, have been found at the Khao Pru Tee Mae cliff in Mount Chong Lom, Ao Luek, Krabi. A team of archaeologists from the Fine Arts Department last month found more than 30 paintings of monkeys, humans, elephants and geometric forms along the 300-metre-high cliff.".

Then in the first week of June they found 30 more paintings. These paintings represent adults and children, marine life, fishermen and elephants.

As the area hasn't been fully surveyed, it is expected that more paintings will be found.

The cliffs and caves in the Krabi area are already known to archaeologists. The area is thought to have been inhabited by homo sapiens since around 35,000 years ago.

See photos of the paintings on thethaiger .

See my blog on the petroglyphs in Tham Phi Hua To near Ao Luek.

6 March 2018

Laang Spean archaeology, Battambang, Cambodia

The Khmer Times on 28 Feb 2018 announced that La’ang Spean or Cave of Bridges near Battambang would be excavated. This cave has already been well studied in the past.

Mentioned in the article is Heng Sophady, deputy director-general of the cultural heritage department at the Ministry of Culture. He joined us when we visited this cave as part of the 2008 caving expedition to Battambang. There are several photos of the cave on my page.

The Khmer Times article :

Ancient caves to be excavated and studied

Mom Kunthear / Khmer Times 

The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and Battambang provincial authorities are cooperating with a working group from France to excavate La’ang Spean, known as the Cave of Bridges, in Ratanak Mondul district.
Heng Sophady, deputy director-general of the cultural heritage department at the Ministry of Culture, said yesterday that this is the tenth time the government has worked with the French since 2009 to excavate and study the 70,000 year old caves.

“For the excavating this year, we have experts to help that came from France, China, and also some Cambodian archaeologist students have joined,” he said.
Mr Sophady said that the excavation of Laang Spean is important to study the activity of ancestors who lived in the caves thousands of years ago.
“Previously, we found that there were three periods in which people occupied the caves, and during the last excavation, we also found six graves,” he said, noting the graves were at least 3,000 years old.
He added that any discoveries made would be put on display at the Battambang provincial museum.
“We will also make a book documenting all the excavations and the discoveries made during them,” he added. “In 2020 our work will be complete and the book will allow everyone to see what we accomplished.”

20 February 2018

Railay Cave vandalism, Krabi

Late 2017 I was back at Railay in Krabi. On Feb 19 2018 The Nation reported that the Railay Beach cave tunnel had been vandalised with graffiti.

Tourists vandalise Railay Beach cave tunnel

Tourists seeking to leave their mark on Thailand have vandalised a cave tunnel leading onto Krabi’s popular Railay Beach, carving their names and other graffiti in the rock walls and stalactites.

Hard objects were used to scrawl names and messages along the 200-metre passage, said Somboon Ngafa, chairman of the Railay Bay Tourism Association Club.

The beach and bay itself are under the aegis of Haad Nopparat Thara-Phi Phi National Park.

Somboon said park officials often warn and reprimand tourists about marking up the cave passage, but there’s not enough staff to keep close watch.

The club has asked the operators of resorts on the beach to appeal to tourists to forego any such activities.

23 November 2017

New Liphistius spider L. priceae named after me

I am honoured to have a new species of Liphistius spider named after me in 2017. The trapdoor spider, Liphistius priceae sp. nov. has recently been described in a new paper, Revue suisse de Zoologie (September 2017) 124(2): 391-445, A revision of the trapdoor spider genus Liphistius (Mesothelae: Liphistiidae) in peninsular Malaysia; part 1, by Peter J. Schwendinger.

There are 5 species groups of Liphistius in peninsular Malaysia : the trang group, the malayanus-group, the batuensis-group, the tioman-group and the linang-group. L. priceae sp. nov. belongs to the linang-group.

The specimens were collected by Dr Peter Schwendinger. They are known only from two caves in the
same limestone hill at Dabong in Kelantan - Gua Keris and Gua Pagar. None were found in the associated rain forest so they may be confined to caves, although show no noteworthy cave adaptations.

Unfortunately there are no photo of the live specimens, only those in alcohol -

Extracts from the paper :

Malaysia, Kelantan, about 5 km
S of Dabong, Gua Keris (= Kris Cave) and Gua Pagar
(locally also called Gua King Kong), 130 m; 8.-9.
VI.2004; leg. P.J. Schwendinger. The precise type
locality is Gua Keris.

The new species is named in honour of
Liz Price (London, UK), a former long-time resident
in Kuala Lumpur, and a very active speleologist who
over 30 years explored and published on caves and cave
faunas all over Southeast Asia. She was also involved
in conservation and trying to save some caves from
destruction by quarrying in Malaysia.

Small to medium-sized, light-brown coloured
species, similar and closely related to
L. tempurung. Both sexes slightly smaller than those
of L. tempurung.

This is the second specimen to have been named after me. The first was a snail from Laos, called Sinoennea lizae

A big thank you to Peter Schwendinger for honouring me with this cave spider.


UPDATE Feb 2018

2 specimens of Liphistius priceae Schwendinger 2017 have been catalogued by the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt :

And NMBE catalogue

And a Wikipedia entry on L.priceae.

20 November 2017

Da Seng Ngan cave temple with blue haired Buddha

In 2014 I posted about the blue haired Buddha in cave temples around Ipoh, Perak. The main temple to have these Buddhas is Da Seng Ngan at Gunung Rapat. In Nov 2016 I went back to have another look.

Tokong Da Seng Ngan is next to Kwan Yin temple. There used to be access between the two but now it seems they have been separated off.

Da Seng Ngan is thought to have been established over 100 years ago but in 1974, the bund of a retention pond for tin mine tailings broke its banks. The resulting mud slide buried all the cave temples in this area at the foot of Gunung Rapat. Other temples were soon dug out, but Da Seng Ngan remained buried for 32 years. When the Ipoh Benevolent Society were building a second pond they came across the buried temple. The walls and facade of the temple were all intact. Artefacts found included copper statues of the Buddha, porcelain statues of Kuan Kong (God of War), urns, candleholders and chinaware.  The Star newspaper had several articles in March 2006.

Over the years the temple has developed with buildings and lots of new statues. There are now lots of these mass produced Buddhas by the car park.

I don't think much has changed inside the cave area. Although some of the Buddhas now have more decorative robes, such as this black haired Buddha -

Black haired Kwan Yin made of fake (?) wood -

And a group of different hair colours, white, blue and black -
Here the blue haired Buddha is holding a golden ball
and this one a blue ball
Note there is also a bald patch on top of the head!

The newer statues seem to look more feminine. I don't know if this is intentional or just the production.

Whilst in Ipoh we had a look at a couple of shops that sell temple paraphernalia and saw just a few blue hair statues -

Again I have tried to find the significance of the blue hair but there is very little info. Some sites suggest the blue is favoured by people in Tibet and Nepal, as those people favour the blue mineral  lapis lazuli. It reminds them of the azure sky in those high altitude regions, and it is said that the hair of their goddess had this colour. Both men and women wore it on their heads. And statues prepared in Tibet and the Himalayn kingdom of Nepal have their hair painted blue.

Other say lapis is the color of the principal Medicine Buddha, making this stone an important one in Buddhist mysticism. The Lapis Healing Master is one of the most honored figures in the Buddhist pantheon.

It is surprising why so few other temples feature this blue hair.

My 2014 blog on the blue hair Buddha

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

5 November 2017

Tham Phra Nang Nai, Railay, Krabi

This was only my second visit to Tham Phra Nang Nai at Railay, Ao Nang, Krabi, Thailand. Tham Phra Nang Nai is also known as Diamond Cave. Although some years ago it was called Inner Princess Cave, see my 2002 blog, where I wrote "A larger cave was discovered more recently. It is at the north end of Rai Leh Beach and is called Tham Phra Nang Nai (Inner Princess Cave). It used to be called Diamond Cave. The National Park authorities have lighted up the cave and built a concrete walkway for the convenience of visitors. There is an admission fee of 20 Baht (RM2). The generator is switched on every other half hour, or when visitors show up. There is a beautiful golden flowstone in the cave, as well as some stunning stalagmites and stalactites. This cave is rumoured to be the grand palace of the princess, whilst the other cave is her summer palace. The cliffs outside the cave offer more climbing routes. "

Now in 2017, admission is 100 Bt and the electricity is on all the time. And it looks as if they have reverted to Diamond Cave for the English name.

 The entrance -

The concrete walkway is a bit broken in places, but not too bad

A small colony of insect eating bats, maybe Hipposideros