sign in a cave in Laos

9 January 2009

Gua Tambun scaffolding aka Noel's erection

I went up to Ipoh to see Noel's erection. I knew he has a very big one, and it's likely to last a week or even longer if he can maintain of course I just had to see it, as it is probably a once in a lifetime occurance. But due to safety reasons, no one was allowed to mount it unless authorised by him. It was certainly an impressive sight.

And in case you are wondering, I am talking about the scaffolding at Gua Tambun. Noel Hidalgo Tan, an archaeologist from Singapore, is doing his PhD at USM Penang, on rock art in Malaysia and is currently documenting the rock paintings at Gua Tambun in Perak.

The paintings were found in 1959 but still have not really been researched or documented. And nothing has been done to protect them. Being on a cliff face, they are exposed to the elements such as sun, rain, wind and other environmental damage. Fortunately the paintings are quite high from the ground, so can't be reached by people, hence the need for the large 30' erection !

The team have made some new discoveries but are not allowed to reveal anything until the official results are published. It is an exciting time for Malaysia's prehistory.

Locking the site. The scaffolding was made secure to stop unwanted visitors when no one was working at the site.

A semi-feral family of dogs is living on the cliff. Mum recently gave birth and there are 8 small pups. She must have a hard time looking after them and finding enough food for herself.

I later returned to Tambun in Aug 2009 when Noel was doing some data recordings on an overnight trip .

Update -
The team made some new discoveries which is an exciting time for Malaysia's prehistory. They recorded a count of just over 500 distinct rock art elements.
My article was published in Brunei Times .

Gua Tambun register number Prk 25/01.


© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission


  1. Puppies are fat and strong. Mum is doing a great job. If you go there again bring these two back for me.

  2. Yes, mum is doing a great job of raising the pups, considering she is semi-feral. It's quite amazing that 8 have survived although a couple are noticably smaller than the rest, so they are the runts.