sign in a cave in Laos

23 March 2020

Jeff's Cellar aka Tambun Hot Springs Cave, Perak

I don't seem to have blogged about Jeff's Cellar at Tambun, Perak. When I first knew about it, it was still a bit hush hush, but now it is openly publicised.

On my website under Uses of Caves, I have written "A cave in Tambun, Perak was taken over as a private wine cellar. Prior to conversion the resident bats were all killed and the natural entrances blocked and large air conditioners installed, so I would imagine the atmosphere inside has changed considerably. On 24 Jan 2010 The Star did a feature on one of the Tambun caves being used for relaxation and meditation as part of a luxury spa complex. This has since been well published in the media. The wine cellar cave became part of this complex. The wine cellar has since been expanded into a fine dining restaurant.

I first went to the cave in May 2003. I wrote in my diary "the cave is opposite the hot springs, on the corner of the hill. Duck under an arch then steps up to 2 chambers with bats. Nice stal in the larger chamber and a passage leading off. The entrance of the cave was covered with a bat net and had many dead bats in it." I collected a few of the bat skulls and they were identified as Eonycteris spelaea. I called it Tambun Hot Springs Cave, register No. Prk 38/04.

I went back in Aug 2003 and "the entrance steps had been cleared, and lighting installed inside with a switch box at the entrance. The net had gone. The bat chamber was completely empty of bats. The main chamber is roughly 200' long and one whole wall is stal, but dirty and black. Few bats at the end and I collected some collembola from he guano in the gour pools. The cave would be really nice if the stals were clean. I wonder if the net was there to trap the bats to get rid of them".

My next visit was Nov 2003, there had been no progress. A couple of bats in the bat chamber and fruit bats at the end.

I didn't return until Jan 2006. The site was gated and the cave called Jeff's Wine Cellar.

In Feb 2008 I was able to have an unofficial look inside the cave but could only take 1 photo. It was being used as a private wine cellar, Jeff is Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah, head of Sunway.

"Steps lead up to the wooden doors, there are toilets on the left and a pantry on the right and the Japanese torture chamber. There is a wood floor throughout and the place has air con. There is a karaoke room in the lower chamber. The passage turns right into the main chamber and is quite stunning as all the stal is gently lit and looked great. Several seating areas, a couch with mirror, and more seats directly over the hidden wine cellar. Some material "sails" covering the ceiling. Lots of empty wine bottles throughout, some concrete covering the walls and air con units hidden. 14 seater dining table. Main passage has the stal dividing the passage going out. Main bar here. This entrance, where the bat net was, is totally covered by glass,restricting the area. Balcony looks out. Went back and the stairs by the portraits led up to the main bar. A wishing well outside". I wondered if the air flow would be badly restricted.

I haven't been back since. The bar has been turned into a fine dining restaurant and there have been various press reports.. The Malay Mail 28 July 2018 “Fancy dining in a cave? Head on over to Tambun” is a detailed article with lots of photos. The Star 23 Jan 2019 "Silver state’s impressive tourism finds".

Liz in Malay Mail 2015 - repeat

In Oct 2015 there was an article about me in the Malay Mail, see my blog. I recently found that this has been reprinted on Emily's blog in Sept 2019. She mentioned the Malay Mail is now defunct, but it is still going!