sign in a cave in Laos

29 October 2011

Crystal theft from caves

Crystal theft from Malaysian caves is getting common. It is also a problem in other southeastern countries such as Philippines and also China. See more on my caves site.

Stals are also being removed in Malaysia, but I think on a far smaller scale compared to crystals. I think the rampant removal of crystals is due to the number of crytal shops opening everywhere. Although they sell highly expensive imported crystals, they also sell calcite, and may even pretend that the calcite crystals are something else, i.e. more valuable.

Crystals from a quarry
Crystals on sale at Kong Fook Ngam temple, near Ipoh

The worst places for crystal removal are caves in Kedah and Perlis. There have been a few TV documentaries which seem to show this in a good light as it provides income for the villagers and attracts tourists.

Stals on display at Sunway Lagoon

See more on Crystal Cave.

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

26 October 2011

Removing crystals from Malaysian caves

Several caves in Peninsular Malaysia are being plundered due to removal of crystals. I have written about this on my website.

Immediately after the Perlis caving expedition in 2010, I spent a day in the Ipoh area to look at a new cave revealed by a quarry company when they were clearing vegetation. This cave, Gua Chichibu, was not very exciting, but it is a new one for the records.

After that I saw a sign to Crystal Cave, a cave which was new to me.  

Gua Crystal on the south end of Gunung Rapat is accessed by driving through a quarry area and past huge blocks of marble.

Cars can go into the cave and are actually parked inside the main chamber

The cave is obviously named from the crystals found inside, and it was really sad to see that the owner/caretaker is digging out these crystals, and selling them in the temple.  I hope it's not a case of killing the golden goose!
Altars in the main chamber.

Natural staining on the walls
The temple was set up around 2000. But the cave was used as a short cut tunnel in the 1960s, as lorries used to drive through the cave from the iron mines inside the wang. However a rockfall in the 1970s blocked the tunnel.
Bell holes in the roof

I just hope that if the supply of crystals in this cave runs out that the caretaker doesn't turn to other caves to find and remove more crystals. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos of where the crystals are being removed.

Entry from main road.

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission


  1. Where do think they get the money from, otherwise, to built the temple. Of course it sounds good on the surface of conservation and or scientific reserch. But remember that many a wolf are wearing sheeps' colthings.
  2. The sad thing is more and more caves are being vandalised for crystals. The problem is particularly bad in Kedah, but now there are several temples in Ipoh area selling crystals.
  3. and why do the authority keeping an eye close not only in crystal and more glaring one like timber and etc. we have good wood but can only buy rubber wood furniture. a curtain rod made of rubber wood costs about rm100-200 !!!

Caving talk on radio BFM 89.9

I was invited as a guest to be on the Evening Edition of BFM 89.9 radio, to talk about caves. I did it on 25 Oct 2011.

Part of the email said

Dear Liz,

I am the producer of the Evening Edition on BFM 89.9, and I'm interested to do a show on caving in Malaysia. Would love for you to participate in the show as a guest!

The show will be hosted by Caroline Oh, and Ezra Zaid or Umapagan Ampikaipakan. The format of this particular segment is an easy-going and informative discussion between the guests and the hosts. We normally have 2 guests as it adds a different perspective or insight to the discussions, would you be able to suggest an additional guest, besides yourself, who would be able to talk about caves and caving in Malaysia. It could be someone who organizes caving expeditions or someone who is able to talk about the uniqueness or nature aspects of caves here in Malaysia.

I couldn't find another caver to join me, so did it solo.

I've only been on live radio once before, and that was decades ago in England when I was talking about my book Bath Freestone Workings.

It was all very casual and quite enjoyable. The Evening Edition is on from 6.30-7.30 pm but there are about 3 music breaks plus the news.

I looked at the BFM www after and saw one comment :

shazrin: I guess Durians & Petais are important for mankind :) @BFMradio
About an hour ago.

The podcast of the show.

22 October 2011

Tasik Meranti Road Shaft, Perlis

In July 2010 I joined some British cavers from South Wales on a caving expedition to Perlis. The objective was to look for new caves and to survey them, and explore known ones that hadn't been mapped, and for one member to dive resurgences.

We stayed in Perlis State Park.

We found some new caves, and visited some I have already been to. We surveyed the caves

roots growing thru rock
old Landie

Well laden for exploring a new cave at Tasik Meranti
and getting ready. The entrance is right by the road. We needed to use SRT as there was a pitch in the cave
and inside
another vertical section

We called this cave Tasik Meranti Road Shaft.

Tasik Meranti Road Shaft register number Prs 85/03.

See more on Wang Mengkuang .

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

21 October 2011

Wang Mengkuang cave tin mine, Perlis

Wang Mengkuang 2 is a natural cave that has been mined for tin. It is in Tasik Meranti area, north of Kaki Bukit in Perlis. I visited the cave with some cavers from UK in 2010. It is about 407 m long.

The horizontal passage has a clear stream running out

In some areas the narrow passage has been widened

There are a few bats

Some of the old pipes are heavily calcited.
There are still pegs in the walls and light bulbs left by the miners

The cave now ends in a sump, here is Tony looking into it

Wang Mengkuang 2 register number Prs 85/02.

See more on a nearby cave Tasik Meranti Road Shaft.

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

19 October 2011

absence of macaques at Batu Caves

Normally there are lots of macaques at Batu Caves, and the area is well known for them. They are fed by visitors, and often make a nuisance of themselves, by grabbing temple offerings from people, and even snatching bags and cameras etc. They can be quite aggressive and intimidating in their search for food.

Mother and baby looking for food

So when I went to Batu Caves in June 2010 I was very surprised to see that the macaques had gone. There were none at all at the temple, and only a couple of young ones hanging around at the bottom by Cave Villa. I assumed they had been removed by the authorities and I mentioned this on my website.

My next visit was 7 Aug and the monkeys were back. However there seemed to be less than in the past, and many of them were young ones. So I wondered if this is a new generation that has arrived. Maybe the parents are those that weren't caught earlier.

Needless to say the macaques were still enjoying human food.
This one has kiwi fruit and a biscuit

and this one has opened the can to get at the jelly

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

12 October 2011

Pau dumpling factory in Perak cave

Caves have a variety of uses - they have been used as shelters, houses and temples, and as wine cellars, as places for storing cheese etc. In fact there are quite a lot of ways that caves have been used.

So I was interested to see a cave in the Ipoh area, at Gunung Rapat, which is being used as a pau factory.

Pau are steamed dumplings, commonly made by the Chinese, so I was even more interested to learn that this cave pau factory is owned by a Malay.

It is possibly the only use of a cave by a Malay in the Ipoh area.

The factory area occupies the rock shelter and is very light and airy and clean.
automatic stirrers
stirring the dough
adding the filling
feeding dough into the rollers and it comes out flat and is shaped
The place is kept nice and clean.

I was intrigued to see that a surau (Muslim prayer room) has been built inside a cave passage.
We were allowed to go in the surau. From there a passage leads up to an upper entrance.

The factory workers are local, and seem to be a very happy bunch of people. It is certainly a very pleasant place to work. They also pack chilli paste there

As the cave has not been documented before, I named it Gua Pau Al-Ain.

Gua Pau register number Prk 23/37.

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission