sign in a cave in Laos

16 August 2009

Perak Tong cave temple after the 2009 rockfall

Perak Tong is one of Malaysia's most famous cave temples, located north of Ipoh. In Jan 2009 there was a disastrous rockfall there, which killed one person. Although the tragedy was covered for several days in the press, there was no mention of what had really happened, or suggestions as to the cause.

In August 2009 I managed to visit the cave for the first time since the rockfall. The cave was now "back to normal" in the sense that the staircase up through the cave to the top of the hill has been rebuilt.

Inside the cave there is still construction work ongoing. However there is no obvious sign of what happened and most visitors will probably remain unaware of the rockfall.

I was very curious to see what had happened. I went there with my friend Law Siak Hong. Firstly I took some photos of the outside of the hill where the collapse is clearly visible. It covers a much larger area than I expected. 

Then we went in the cave. There is now a new staircase up through the cave to the back entrance. This area is now much brighter as the top chamber (presumably where the collapse occurred) now allows a lot of light to enter. As we left the chamber with the 3 large statues, on the left we saw 2 new pillars which seemed to be supporting a massive rock.

Hong translated the Chinese writing and said the pillars have just been constructed, this summer. I was stunned - were these pillars meant to hold up the rock, or were they just for 'decoration'.

As we neared the top, we could see parts of the old staircase.

One section was on a huge boulder which appeared to have fallen. From here it looked as if there were 3 enormous rocks which had moved, but they are so large, I couldn't believe that the place has been rebuilt and reopened in around 6 months. One man told Hong that these 3 rocks had moved, but were now wedged naturally in place. We could see a lot of fresh cement joining and covering various rocks.

I was quite stunned at the enormity of the collapse - although of course I am not 100% of what actually happened. I really wonder how safe the place is now, have the huge boulders already stabilised themselves....? What are they actually resting on....? I heard unofficially that no proper safety check was done as it would have been too expensive.

notice at top
Unfortunately I have no photos taken prior to the collapse of the inside of the affected areas of the cave, so cannot compare my photos of before and after.

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing. Don't know anything about the fall until now. It's dangerous.