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USES OF CAVES

Since prehistoric times, caves have been used as places of shelter and as homes to ancient cave man. In more modern times, a few caves are still used as shelters for hermits, religious people and of course for temples. In other countries some caves are used as wine cellars (for storage), or for growing mushrooms or aging and storing cheese and wine, as they have a relatively constant temperature and absence of natural light. Others have been used as factories and stores during periods of war. Even underground endurance records have been set in caves, e.g. the longest time spent underground (held by Maurizio Montalbini who spent 366 days in a cave in Italy).

In Malaysia there are not many examples of these uses. However there was an interesting piece in the Borneo Post on June 14th, 2009 saying that "the Heritage Department would hold the second poetry recital event in Niah Caves this year". Niah was again in the news 2 years later when the Sarawak Conventions Bureau announced tourists could attend subterranean cocktail parties in the cave. Although the specific article was only 5 lines long, there were several inaccuracies (filed under archives).

Gua Cintamanis in Pahang is home to large colonies of bats and is also used as a temple by local people. For years there have been various forms of nets strung across the entrance, with dead bats trapped in the netting. I'm not sure if this is an attempt to clear the cave of bats, or if any bats are removed from the netting for any reason.
One unusual event was when I was in Gua Cintamanis and there were a group of men in there to look for a spirit, as one man wanted a spirit for his house. I wrote about this Caving with spirit hunters

People go into caves to do magic or to 'pray' to get lucky numbers for the lottery. The media reported that a temple in the Ipoh area was attracting people who noticed a vision in the cave.


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net strung across cave entrance to trap bats. It may be because the cave is used as an unofficial temple


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this bat (probably Eonycteris spelaea) had a long slow death trapped in the net


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Kek Lok Tong is used for wedding photos

Some people choose to live in caves, others to use them for entertainment. The Star Oct 2009 reported on a man living in a cave for 27 years whilst waiting for citizenship. 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. In 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. Also at the Lost World of Tambun is Kapura Cave, supposedly a natural limestone cave. It was used for a concert by a Malaysian Death Metal band in 2010.
Here are some cave 'houses' and a wine cellar -


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private wine cellar at Tambun Hot Springs, Perak


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this cave in Pahang is being used as a house


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sadly there is also a lot of rubbish dumped in the cave


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not sure if this Perak cave is being used as a house or a recycling centre!


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even gas cylinders in the cave kitchen

Caves are also used in advertising.

In 2007 Digi phone company used Gua Kandu in Perak for their YCF (yellow coverage fellow) series. The yellow man was seen following some cavers into the cave to show that coverage is almost everywhere. As he goes into the cave he breaks up as he looses coverage so has to come out and he is OK again.


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looking at the cave entrance


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looking out from the cave


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entering the cave


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yellow man follows the cavers into the cave


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he follows the cavers in....


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...but begins to break up


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so he goes out & coverage is restored


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Digi advert with limestone hill behind

In Anak Kurau in north Perak, an enterprising barber has built his shop alongside the cliff face.
And in Feb 2010 I discovered one cave in Perak is being used by a Malay as a pau (dumpling) factory. It is possibly the only cave in the Ipoh area that is used by a Malay. The factory part is in the rock shelter, but a cave passage has been turned into a surau (Muslim prayer room). Is is the only surau I've ever seen in a cave. However there is also one in a cave in Gua Musang. At Gunung Bercham there was a soya bean skin factory, but two people were killed in a rock fall there in 2004.


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barber shop


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inside the shop


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pau factory in a cave

One rule of caving is 'never cave alone' - the people in the last photo are certainly not breaking that rule!


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surau in a cave


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horses sheltering in a cave


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never cave alone

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Liz Price 2008 - 2013
Last updated 19 July 2013