sign in a cave in Laos

14 February 2010

Gunung Senyum photos over 20 years

Excuse the quality of photos as they are old photos I have scanned and haven't bothered to play around with).

I've known Gunung Senyum for 20 years and there have been quite a few changes. My most recent visit was in January 2010.

Gunung Senyum became a tourist site in July 1989.

On my first visit in 1991 we thought we would have to walk for an hour to reach the hill from the end of the road, but found the road went all the way. However we had to drive through dusty oil palm plantations.

It was quite a dramatic view approaching the hill in those days.

At Senyum, the car park was right by Gua Cahaya Mata Hari (now called Terang Bulan). There were food stalls. The lake didn't exist, it was just a swampy area.

My 2nd visit was in 1992 -

Car park by the hill in 1991 -

My 3rd visit Jan 1996 and I found many changes. Drove in from Kg Awah, 46km, but there is a new road leading in from Temerloh. The old car park at the foot of the hill was abandoned, and the chalets which were built since 1992 were already ruined. The new car park was further away from the massif, in an open and treeless area.

Food stalls, staff quarters, toilet/shower block and outside taps, but no reception or office.

Sign boards 1991

1996 -

sign near the caves

sign now near office 2010

dadah sign, Terang Bulan 1996, and below - steps to Terang Bulan in 2010

All the caves are now fenced off with open gates. All the name boards have gone. There is a fence around Gua Kolam Tujuh and new metal ladders on the climbs.
1992 -


1998 -

Gua Tok Makam Long is fenced with a locked gate as it is a dig site, but the side of the fence is broken open and the rangers take tours through here. Grave now built up with stone, and fenced. Excavations at this site were begun in August 1995 by Zulkifli Jaafar from National Museum. This site has been dated to the Hoabinhian and Neolithic periods. On my visit there was one dig pit in floor (3 skeletons).

Gua Cahaya Mata Hari, aka Terang Bulan, has a wooden walkway with handrail.

June 96 - New road now signposted, from Kg Awah.

3 pits in MTL, and bypass to the crawl.

June 97 - New rd from Temerloh, following river.

Archaeological dig in entrance to Terang Bulan.

Apr 98 - there is now a wooden office with balcony, where we slept.
New camping dorms, shower block.

Gua Gajah had a no entry sign -

Gua Gajah / Slot Cave 2010

Jan 2000 - Wooden handrail in Terang Bulan is falling apart, new signs outside cave. This photo is 2010 -

Feb 2010 - most recent visit


Photos of the changes -
Up to Makam Tok Long 1991 and then 2010 -

The grave in 1991

new stone 1996 (above) and 2010 (below)

Digs 1996 -

1997 -

2010 -

There is a walkway over the swamp

danger area -

View from carpark

1998 -

Office 2010

and chalets

See more recent photos of Senyum.

© Liz Price

No reproduction without permission