What’s better than having a group of Mum friends? Having a group of adventurous Mum friends – especially when your immediate family doesn’t share your love for adventure. Well, these kinds of experiences anyway.
Gua Tempurung is a cave in Gopeng, Perak, Malaysia – about 2 hours drive north of Kuala Lumpur. It is one of the largest caves in Peninsular Malaysia and is comprised mainly of limestone, although we also saw marble.
There are four tour options – two dry and two wet. The wet tours operate subject to weather conditions – if it has been raining too hard, they will stop the tours because the water levels will rise too high.
We opted for the Grand Tour, which is the most challenging of the four tours. Covering a distance of about 4km, this tour takes about 3.5 hours to complete.
Not that my kids are interested, but you can bring kids along on the Grand Tour. Don’t quote me on this, but I think the guide said 10 years and up was okay (my Malay is a bit rusty so best to call ahead and check first).
The Grand Tour
The first part of the trail is paved and is basically the same ground covered in Tour 2. We stopped at 5 platforms:
- Platform 1: Mr Bat
- Platform 2: Echo-Echo
- Platform 3: Golden Flowstone (where Tour 1 turns back)
- Platform 4: Wind Tunnel
- Platform 5: Top of the World (where Tour 2 turns back)
Along the way, we saw some pretty cool limestone formations and art created by nature.
Can you see the image below? It was painted with bat droppings and forms the shape of a stick figure body, arms, and legs.
Spot the face in the photo below:
More art created with bat droppings:
Not the best picture, but if you look carefully at the image below, you can see a Chinese scholar.
The paved pathway that we followed at the beginning of the tour:
These writings were written by some of the miners who used to come into the cave.
There are also plenty of photo opportunities along the way, for those so inclined to take them (we were, of course):
After Platform 5, we take a long descent into the depths of the cave where the trail becomes more physically challenging. We had to scramble up slopes, crawl through small gaps, wade through sections of river, and slide down a steep descent.
Along the way, you may also encounter some of the inhabitants of the cave – like spiders, snakes, and scorpions. We saw the first two (spiders as big as birds and a racer snake), but thankfully, no scorpions.
Halfway through the tour, you will arrive at the exit on the other side of the cave, that opens out to this delightful little gem:
We stopped to rest here for a bit before making the return journey. This was where I found it got a bit chilly because we were drenched from the river and the wind was rather cool.
The trail back is mostly wading through the river, except for the brief stop to slide down the 9 meter slide.
It might not look like much, but cavers have been known to injure their ankles because they took the slope too fast.
This is where we exit the cave (you might notice that it is next to the walkway where we entered the cave):
Gua Tempurung was an amazing adventure and we thoroughly recommend it – every single Jungle Babe who went.
What to Bring
In retrospect, these are the things I would bring with me (for the Grand Tour):
- Helmet – if you have your own helmet, the fit will be better than the ones they have on hand.
- Knee Guards – there are some areas where you will have to crawl on your hands and knees and it can hurt quite a bit. A number of the Jungle Babes came away with bruises on their knees.
- Gloves – to protect your hands when scrambling. It doesn’t really matter what kind, but I would opt for full coverage rather than the fingerless type.
- Headlight – Decathlon sells those really cheap ones which work well enough but if you want brightness, biking headlights like this one are really effective.
- Extra torch – just in case your headlight runs out of batteries. Although, if your headlight batteries are fully charged and you use it conservatively, i.e. you only turn it on when you really need it, it should be fine.
- Contact lenses if you have them (for those use usually wear glasses) – I wore glasses and every time we stopped to rest, my glasses would fog up, obstructing my vision.
- Lightweight windbreaker – if you do the wet adventures, you will get wet. During the break on the other side of the cave, it starts to get a little chilly, especially if it’s an overcast day.
- Waterproof bag or pouch to carry your phone/camera, water and snacks. The Grand Tour is estimated at 3.5 hours (possibly more if your group is slow) and we were starving by the time we were done. If you have a strong headlamp (or a good camera), you can take some pretty decent photos in the caves.
- Long sleeves and pants provide better protection against scrapes. Since you will get wet (as far up as your neck), it’s preferable if you wear quick-dry fabrics or materials that won’t weigh you down when they’re wet.
- Change of clothes – there are showers for cleaning up afterward.
- Shoes – the general recommendation is to wear hiking shoes, but our guide told us even hiking shoes can be slippery. He recommended a local brand of shoes called “Adidas Kampung” which can be found in Mr DIY or purchased online from Shoppee.
Overnight in Ipoh
Of course, no trip is complete without a bit of camwhoring and feasting. Not far from Gopeng is Ipoh, where we stayed the night and ate our way through town.
We had dinner at this charming restaurant called Restaurant Sun Yoon Wah (opposite Kafe Sun Yoon Wah).
I didn’t get all the food pictures because we were too hungry to wait.
After dinner, we filled our bellies with the best Western coffee in Ipoh and cake at a place called Burps & Giggles. The cakes we tried were their cheesecake and expresso mousse cake. Personally, I liked the cheesecake best.
After a grueling caving expedition, it was time to massage away our aches at Palace Foot Reflexology Center.
After the massage, we were ready for supper, which was tong sui, ice kacang and rojak at a place rather aptly named Tong Sui Kai.
We stayed the night at Le Maison Guesthouse at Octagon, where we took a hundred photos.
Breakfast was at Ming Court Hong Kong Dim Sum – which is such a popular place that you have to wait in line for a table if you don’t get there early. We were relatively early, but we still had to wait.
But it was worth it, for this:
We’re probably starting to sound like hobbits by now, but yes, we ate again after breakfast – Tau Fu Fa at Concubine Lane:
Followed by more cake and coffee at Plan B. My favourite was the salted caramel cheesecake (all my favourites in one cake, it’s to die for).
After morning tea, we had lunch at the Kedai Kopi Nam Chau – where the bulk of us ate their famous curry noodles and I ate the Ipoh hor fun.
And this was what we did to work up that healthy appetite on day 2:
You have no idea how many times you have to take a jump shot before you get it right. That there must be 100 calories already.
And that brings this adventure to a close. Let’s see what’s in store for the Jungle Babes for our the next adventure…