sign in a cave in Laos

2 August 2019

Judi Dench visits Gomantong

In July 2019, ITV on English TV showed a 2 part documentary on Dame Judi Dench's visit to Borneo. I wrote about it on my webpage, "Judi Dench's wild Borneo Adventure". In the second part of the programme, there was a few minutes coverage of Judi's visit to Gomantong.

I took some screenshots :



The famous guano pile that every documentary covers

A photo taken from my Gomantong blog, showing the same guano pile



5 July 2019

Update on the writing in Gua Datuk, Gng Rapat

The Star on 27 April 2019 had an article about writing found in Gua Datuk, near Ipoh, in Perak, Malaysia. See my blog.

On 2 May The Star had a further article, "Japanese writings found on cave walls". There is an interesting photo of some of the writing with the translation.

"The cave, where the Japanese writings were discovered, is believed to have once housed a temple started by a Nichiren Shu priest.
Nichiren Shu is a Buddhist school in Japan, founded by Nichiren Daishonin, that teaches and practises the Lotus Sutra (Buddha’s teachings) more than 750 years ago.
Experts from the state Park Corporation, Tourism Perak, Minerals and Geoscience, Heritage and Museum departments visited the cave last Friday.
Penang Nichiren Shu Temple committee member and a researcher (for the temple) Alexandar Ang said that he and several members discovered the inscriptions in 2011 after an extensive nine-year search.
This had come about after a priest mentioned to them about an old temple located within a hot spring area in Ipoh.
Ang said the inscriptions were in kanji, a system of Japanese writing using Chinese characters.
There was an inscription stating the “second year of Taisho era in 1913”, which was a form of Japanese calendaring, he said.
“The temple was founded in 1913 by a priest referred to as Rev Baba from Kumamoto, Kyushu in Japan.
“It was named Ganryuzan Hokekyoji, and at a point in time the temple had 290 devotees comprising 80% local Chinese and Indians, 5% Japanese and 15% foreign nationals,” he said.
However, local experts and historians have yet to verify the writings.
There are currently three Nichiren Shu temples in the country – Klang, Penang and Kuala Lumpur.
Ang said the temple served as a place to learn and practise Shakyamuni Buddha’s Dharma.
Another committee member, William Tan, hoped that the writings would be preserved as a living heritage.
He said the cave was mainly used as a temple to propagate Buddhist teachings.
Last week, state Tourism, Arts and Culture Committee chairman Tan Kar Hing had spoken about the writings found in the cave.
The inscriptions, he said, were made before World War I.
He said the soldiers at the cave were probably intelligence troops then.
The cave is not open to the public for now."

1 July 2019

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River on Google doodle

On 30 June 2019 the Google doodle on the search page featured Puerto Princesa Subterranean River in the Philippines.


This is the text :

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park: Google Doodle Celebrates Puerto Princesa Underground River
By Hannah Barwell - June 30, 2019

Google celebrates the seventh anniversary of Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance with an extraordinary doodle.

The doodle features the entrance of Puerto Princesa’s underground stream with a boat of travelers entering the world’s longest underground waterways at 8.2 kilometers which is also famous for its stalactite and stalagmite formation.

On this day in 2012, the Puerto Princesa Underground River became a protected site by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. It’s also a Philippines National Park .

“We are glad to showcase one of the country’s most treasured natural wonders through a special Doodle on the Puerto Princesa Underground River,” interim Country Manager for Google Philippines Ben King said.

He said it also serves as a nudge to travelers to help conserve the place.

“Aside from celebrating the destination, we hope that this effort serves as a reminder to do our part in conserving it.”

In 2012, Ramsar Convention, an international body created for the conservation of the important wetlands, tagged Puerto Princesa Underground River as “unique in the biogeographic region because it connects a range of important ecosystems from the mountain-to-the-sea, including a limestone karst landscape with a complex cave system, mangrove forests, lowland evergreen tropical rainforests, and freshwater swamps.”

An announcement discharged by Google says “We are glad to showcase one of the country’s most treasured natural wonders through a special Doodle on the Puerto Princesa Underground River,” interim Country Manager for Google Philippines Ben King said.

He said it also serves as a nudge to travelers to help conserve the place.

“Aside from celebrating the destination, we hope that this effort serves as a reminder to do our part in conserving it.”

In 2012, Ramsar Convention, an international body created for the conservation of the important wetlands, tagged Puerto Princesa Underground River as “unique in the biogeographic region because it connects a range of important ecosystems from the mountain-to-the-sea, including a limestone karst landscape with a complex cave system, mangrove forests, lowland evergreen tropical rainforests, and freshwater swamps.”.

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25 May 2019

Batu Caves on McDonald's OOH campaign

In 2019 McDonald's came out with a very clever marketing campaign. It showed various billboards featuring iconic Malaysian attractions and places, made out of McDs products. The billboards use food to highlight what each Malaysian state is popular for.

For Selangor, Batu Caves was shown, using just fries. Menuju Tangga Batu Caves - to the stairs Batu Caves


In Ipoh, the billboard cleverly recreates the iconic "Ipoh" sign using fries and nuggets, but adds on "Mari Tak Sombong", "let's not be arrogant", to represent the state's famous tagline.




See more on this site. And on marketing-interactive.

8 May 2019

Prehistoric community discovered in Gia Lai, Vietnam

This is not cave related, but is still a very interesting piece of news.

On 8 April 2019 Vietnamnet reported :
"Discoveries made at the Go Da site, An Khe town, Gia Lai province, in 2014 are evidence that An Khe valley was the home of a prehistoric community. Over the past 5 years, Vietnamese and foreign archaeologists have unearthed and made public findings which have shocked many historians."

An Khe is in the Central Highlands in SE Vietnam.


"Archaeologist Phan Thanh Tung discovered the first stone axe at the Go Da site. Two top Vietnamese archaeologists, Doctor Nguyen Khac Su and Doctor Nguyen Gia Doi, came to An Khe to prove that prehistoric men lived here. 

The Vietnam Institute of Archaeology and Russia’s Novosibirsk Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology worked under a 5-year cooperative agreement which expires this year to excavate the Go Da and Roc Tung sites in An Khe town.

Discoveries of the early palaeolithic sites in An Khe are evidence that the upper Ba river in An Khe was the home of a prehistoric community about 1 million years ago. 

This is the oldest known trace of humans and their cultural relics ever found in Vietnam. 

It’s important proof that nearly 1 million years ago prehistoric men had appeared in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.

Discoveries of bifacial tools and handaxes in An Khe have also dispelled the view that in the West people had handaxes, indicating more advanced development, while in the East people had stone choppers, simpler tools suggesting a less-developed society.

Doctor Nguyen Gia Doi, acting Director of the Vietnam Institute of Archaeology, said “The An Khe site is one of a few rare relic sites in Southeast Asia and Asia, dating back more than 800,000 years. It creates a new notion of Vietnamese history. Previous findings at Nui Do are 300,000 to 400,000 years old. The An Khe findings have changed our conception of prehistory and man’s evolution.”

The excavation is still underway, but the preliminary findings have important value for writing Vietnam’s history, for exhibiting at museums, and for making An Khe an international center for the study of human cultural history."

28 April 2019

Chinese and Japanese writing in Perak caves

The Star on 27 April 2019 had an article "Japanese, Chinese writing dating back to 1913 found in Tambun's Gunung Datok cave".

The article, by Manjit Kaur, says writing believed dating back to 1913 has been found inside Gunung Datok in Tambun. This would pre-date WW1 and is from the Japanese Taisho period.

I first visited Gua Datuk in 1991 but don't have any photos of the graffiti.

Other caves in the Kinta Valley have a mix of Chinese and Japanese writing, which I was told by a Japanese friend Menju, that the writing is Kanji. Kanji means Chinese characters in Japanese. In the Japanese writing system, the characters are adopted from Chinese ones. Caves on the west side of Gunung Lanno show these characters. Although much of the graffiti there dates between 1930-50.

Gua Pulau (Prk 18/16) and Gua Batu Nesan (Prk 18/17) and Gua Selari (Prk 18/15) all have graffiti. My friend Law Siak Hong translated some Chinese characters as "continue to fight the battle" and "may our comrades continue to strive [for the cause]". There are also lot of names - Chinese, Malay and Sikh, also police.


There is also what we guess to be war graffiti, of a soldier shooting a man

See my more detailed blog about these caves, "Lanno revisited" in 2013.

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

--
This is the majority of the Star article :
"Japanese and Chinese writing believed dating back to 1913 has been found inside Gunung Datok in
Tambun near here.
State Tourism, Arts and Culture Committee chairman Tan Kar Hing said the inscriptions that were written in charcoal mentioned the year 1913 and the Taisho period.
"1913 is even before World War 1. We believe soldiers were at the cave probably as intelligence troops.
However, we need more experts to come down and have a look, especially the Japanese embassy," he said.
He said the cave is located within the Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat.
"However, we will be writing to the embassy, and we will get experts to tell us what the writing is
about," he added.
The Taisho period in Japanese history dates from 1912 to 1926, coinciding with the reign of the Emperor Taisho."

7 April 2019

Bomb-making equipment inside Krabi cave, & birds nests

Birds' nest caves in SE Asia are generally owned by local people and are carefully guarded to protect the valuable nests.

In March 2019 there was a mine explosion in a birds'  nest cave in Phang Nga Bay, Thailand. On March 20 The Thaiger reported "Investigation into mine explosion on a Phang Nga Bay bird’s-nest concession island". There was an explosion at a bird’s-nest concession area in Phang Nga bay, where two men were killed. The island is Koh Lao Dua, 6 km north of Koh Yao Noi. The mine had been planted in the beach, in a concession area that was out of bounds. The Nation Mar 19 "Investigation under way after lethal blast  in Phang-nga bird’s-nest concession area".

And in another incident also in Krabi area a week later -

The World News 28 March, "Bomb making equipment discovered in Krabi cave" -


Krabi officers have discovered bomb-making equipment inside a cave in Krabi.

Officers raided the cave on Koh Talu in Ao Lueak, Krabi after they found that the cave is part of an area of a company who received a concession to produce and farm bird nets.

Two men died from their injuries after stepping on mines along the shores of a nearby island last week that was also being used for the farming of bird nests.

Officers found 44 year old Chocknapat Khunkam and an 18 year old teenager in the cave. They told police that they had been hired to guard and protect the bird nets inside the cave.

Police also found bomb-making equipment inside the cave. The two men told police they didn’t know anything about that equipment. They have now been taken to Ao Lueak Police Station where they were charged with illegal possession of bombs and ammunition. Police are continuing their investigation.

At this stage police believe that items seized might be linked to the mine explosions at a bird’s-nest concession island in Phang Nga bay last week.