sign in a cave in Laos

13 July 2024

Gunung Kanthan monastery petition video

 Gunung Kanthan's Last Defence : Save the Monastery, Save Gunung Kanthan (For Petition).

The video has been reloaded on youtube and can be seen here.

6 July 2024

Sulawesi rock art older than previously thought

Some very exciting news about cave art was released in early July 2024. An article in Nature, 03 July 2024, about the cave art at Maros-Pangkep, Sulawesi, Indonesia. It has been re-dated using laser-ablation U-series imaging, giving a result of over 51,200 years. So this makes it the oldest known narrative rock art showing human-animal interactions. This predates similar European art. 

Previous dating was based on solution uranium-series (U-series) analysis of calcite deposits overlying rock art in the limestone caves of Maros-Pangkep. There a hunting scene from Leang Bulu’ Sipong 4, was originally dated using the previous approach to a minimum of 43,900 years ago. The new technique gives a minimum age of 50.2 ± 2.2 ka, so is at least 4,040 years older than thought.

Also "a newly described cave art scene at Leang Karampuang. Painted at least 51,200 years ago, this narrative composition, which depicts human-like figures interacting with a pig, is now the earliest known surviving example of representational art, and visual storytelling, in the world."


See my other blogs on Indonesian rock art

Oldest cave art again found in Indonesia        Jan 2021

Sulawesi cave paintings now older than first thought   Oct 2014

Cave of Hands, Leang Leang, Maros, Sulawesi   Nov 2011


For a long list of media references to the new dating, see SEAArch .

22 June 2024

Cave racers mating

In 2000, in Dark Cave at Batu Caves in Malaysia, I saw 3 cave racers mating.  I put some photos on my cave website -

The cave racer used to be classed as Elaphe taeniura but is now known as Orthriophis taeniurus. It inhabits limestone caves all over Asia ranging from China, down through the Asian mainland to Malaysia and Borneo. It is commonly seen in caves. There are around 10 species.

I wrote a note on the mating racers in The Malaysian Naturalist, 2002, Dec, 56(2)8 -

In 2023, on 25 Oct The Thaiger (in Thailand) published this article "Explorers ‘rattled’ with excitement as rare Blue-tailed Cave Racer snakes spotted mating in Krabi". It records two Blue-tailed Cave Racer snakes mating in a cave in Ao Luek district, in Krabi province, in southern Thailand. 

The article describes these snakes as endangered and a rare protected species listed in CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). However when I looked on CITES, Elaphe taeniura is not listed in the CITES Appendices, nor are other species of Elaphe genus. Orthriophis taeniurus is not mentioned either.

26 April 2024

Malaysian Cave Bibliography - up to 2023


The latest edition of my Malaysian Cave Bibliography has just been published, and includes references up to 2023.

Published April 2024 by Berliner Höhlenkundliche Berichte (BHB), Vol 89. 247 pp.

It contains about 6170 references to Malaysian caves and karst, dating from the 1700s to 2023. In addition there is an extensive newspaper biblio covering 1911 – 2023.

See more on my caving website, and also the BHB page, under publications.

Book costs 15 US$ / 15 £ / 15 € plus shipping and can be ordered directly from the BHB page, or contact me for details.

28 January 2024

Kanthan Sakyamuni Caves Monastery & other cave temples protection

Some months after the petition to save the Sakyamuni Caves Monastery at Gunung Kanthan, there is finally some good news. This applies not only to the Kanthan monastery, but also to other cave temples and religious sites in general.

On 27 January 2024, issued an update "A Commitment to Protecting Sacred Sites: Prime Minister's Pledge to Safeguard Religious Monasteries".

There is a link to this Facebook page -

And this leads to the next link -

It is encouraging news. Let's see what happens as a result.

There was a further update on 21 Feb in FMT "Century-old monastery seeks to nullify company’s land lease extension". This was also shown on on 22 Feb "LATEST FMT NEWS : Century-old monastery seeks to nullify company’s land lease extension". 

The Edge 28 Feb "Old Perak monastery fails to set aside APMC's eviction notice". update 28 Feb "Sakyamuni Caves Monastery Gunung Kanthan" . Latest news : The Edge.

Meanwhile The Star 28 Feb had this article about cave temples in Perak - "Limestone cave temples to stay, says Perak exco".

27 January 2024

Chinaraj Cave monastery aka Thai Monk Cave, Gng Lanno

Thai Monk Cave at Gunung Lanno is now known as Chinaraj Cave monastery. It is located at ground level on the southwest side of Gunung Lanno in Perak, not far from Kong Fook Ngam temple. 

I first visited in May 1996. At that time it had a concrete path leading up to it and inside the cave. But about 10 m in there was a locked gate and we could see the cave continuing. There was a store room. To the right was a series of cement tanks/gours and a passage to another entrance. The cave is by a bend in the Sungai Raia. 

My next visit was May 1999. The cave had been developed since my first visit. Half a dozen cars were parked inside the first chamber of the cave. A concrete walkway with electric lights goes through to a wang, with a pond. A new "temple" has been established - more of a meditation place for the monk.

Next visit was July 2001, on a recce for the 2001 Gunung Lanno expedition. The gate was locked but a man was inside and let us in when we spoke to him. The place is only open on Sundays when people come to the monk, although people look after him during the week. He lives alone, from Thailand. We went through to the house and pond. Lots of catfish and they aerate the pond. It is a long distance to the opposite side of the wang. There is a pond and swamp outside the front of the cave. After this visit I named the cave as Thai Monk and gave it the register number of Prk 18/07.

The Gunung Lanno expedition took place in November 2001. We were unable to survey the cave as we couldn't get access. However a nearby cave was surveyed, Gua Kera Mati aka Dead Monkey Cave, Prk 18/32, and this was found to connect into Thai Monk Cave.

During the expedition, we were able to hire a 4-seater plane and fly around Gunung Lanno. From the plane we could clearly see the flooded wang of Thai Monk Cave. 


Sg Raia outside the cave

My next visit was in May 2014. A building had been constructed inside the cliff and the swamp is part of the garden. There is an ornate metal fence outside. 

The Sungai Raia

The track that leads further around the hill was closed off by a large gate by the temple -

Now (2024) the cave is known as Chinaraj Cave monastery - a Buddhist temple, Tokong Siam. I don't know when this was established. In Feb 2022 The Star referred to it as Persatuan Penganut Agama Buddha Chinaraj. It was one of 19 caves in the Kinta Valley to receive an eviction notice, to vacate in 30 days. However a few days later the notices were revoked. 

According to Google Maps, the temple is open mornings and evenings. There are hundreds of photos on the page. 

Cave location 4°31'8.12" N 101° 8'18.01"E.


See my Cave Register .

7 January 2024

Bat Cave, Phnom Sampeu, Battambang, Cambodia

In  2008 on the caving expedition to Cambodia, we spent time exploring and surveying caves in the Battambang area. The best known hill is Phnom Sampov (Sampeu). Phnom Sampeu is the famous hill which contains the killing caves and is on the tourist itinerary. It is a striking limestone outcrop with a wat on top.

Towards the end of a day spent surveying caves on the hill, we descended and had a look at the northern side, which is on the opposite side to the killing caves. Here we saw Bat Cave. 


In our reports, we called the cave La Ang Pracheu. Our description (from BHB 34) -  "Called “PSW4 (Million Bat Cave) by Herries (2006a). This cave is located at the base of Phnom Sampeu near to where an 18 m high Buddha is currently being carved out of the rock face. A steep 15 m climb is needed to reach the large cave mouth. However, a strong stench  of bat guano and the noise of the large bat colony successfully keeps explorers out of  the cave, which consequently remains unsurveyed."

Apparently the bats of Bat Cave have become a tourist attraction. The Khmer Times, 7 Jan 2004 has an article "Phnom Sampov bat cave attracting more tourists".  The article says that during the last months of 2023, more national and international tourists flocked to visit Phnom Sampov (Sampov mountain) bat cave in Battambang province. It goes on to say -

And a photo taken from the Khmer Times, AKP -

There are lots of photos of the bat flight on Trip Advisor.

To the right of Bat Cave, a large statue is being constructed (2008) -

I had seen the statue on a visit in 2004. In my diary, 4 Sept 2004, after visiting the caves up on the hill, I wrote "We began the long descent to the car park, using the 700 (?) stairs. This killed my poor knees. I went to look at the cliff face where they are just starting to carve a 38 m high Buddha. The mural will be 120 m long and will take 7 years to complete. Quite a feat. I had to give a donation. Women were manually breaking stones.

In 2008 I wrote in my diary "Bat Cave, this has the large entrance and is to the right of the new Buddha they are carving. There has not been much progress on this since my 2004 visit."

I googled the statue and 

Exclusive Cambodia Travel

Ret Bopha

There are hundreds more photos on the internet, especially on Google Maps, under Bat Cave Phnom Sampov.

References :

Berliner H√∂hlenkundliche Berichte BHB 34 (2009) Cambodia (Battambang) and its replacement BHB 77 (2019) Cambodia 1995/96–2017.

Herries, A. (2006a): Battambang Karst, North West Cambodia. – unpublished report, 11 p.

Herries, A. (2006b) Explorations in Cambodian Karst. Battambang Province, North West Cambodia. – SUSS Bull., 46 (2), 8-13; Sydney.

And my 2008 blog, Battambang Caves 1 - Phnom Sampeu 2008