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Friday, August 21, 2009

Cuti-cuti Sabah: Gomantong Cave / Sandakan Town

Gomantong Cave is in our itinerary, as it is located near Sukau.

The entrance of the Gomantong Cave. Can you spot Baby C & Mama?

Gomantong is the largest limestone hill and the most important source of edible birds nets in Sabah. Tourists visiting the cave during harvesting season can see local collectors dangle from the roof of the cave on ladders made of rattan and bamboo collecting the nests produced by the agile swiftlets. [source]

Unfortunately, we were 2 weeks early as the workers told us that the next harvesting date is on the 20th August this year. Despite that, we enjoyed exploring the more accessible Simud Hitam (Black Cave) which takes 5 minute to walk around the well-maintained boardwalk.

The railing of the boardwalk is covered with bird/bats droppings, and cockroaches are everywhere! You can see some ropes hanging from the ceiling of the cave, which is part of the tools used by the harvesters to climb up.

In the Simud Hitam, the roof is 90 metres above the floor of the cave, which is covered in guano that must be metres deep. Imagine if there's no boardwalk for us to step on, I think we could be drown, sinking into the guano pile. Eww! FYI, this pile is the home of thousand, or even millions of creepy crawlies esp cockroaches! So, if any of you are afraid of cockroaches, this experience may not be for you! *I witnessed two hysterical male ran out of the cave when they saw baby roaches welcomed them*

Dark and smelly, you can see Koko C put his two fingers into his nosril. There are trickles of water from the edge of the cave's ceiling down to where the patch of greenery is, made me admiring Mother Nature.

The rear of the Simud Hitam. Can you see the railings of the boardwalk stretched further.

I tried to distract Koko C's attention from the unpleasant smell and made it into an interesting expedition for us. By discussing what we saw and encouraging him to watch his step, he came out from the cave with high confidence and full of excitement (that he didnt slip, wasnt scared of cockroaches/dark and saw/hear lots of interesting things).

Since the 13th century, Chinese traders have come to Sandakan in search of birds' nests, a prized delicacy among the Chinese and found nearly 100 metres up on the ceilings of the Gomantong Caves. Harvesters put their lives on the line literally, climbing networks of rattan ladders and ropes to get to the nests. The risky nature of nest collecting has only helped made the commodity a pricey one.[source]

They are Chinese, but not the mentioned Chinese traders. or are they?

The main cave system is divided into two parts: the more accessible Simud Hitam (Black Cave), and the larger Simud Putih (White Cave) which lies above. The names refer to the main type of nests produced by swiftlets in each cave. Simud Putih (White Cave) is the larger of the two caves, and also the more dangerous; special permission is required to enter and one must participate in at least five hours of intense spelunking. It is where the more valuable "white saliva" nests of the swiftlets are found, and is a steep 30 minute climb further up the mountains. [source]

When nature calls!
a red langur monkey peed on BIL.... tee hee


A cowboy town.. lol! What do you do when there's no Gas Station and you need one?


Done with caving, we headed up north to Sandakan town, where we stayed at Sandakan Hotel for a night.

We did more swimming, had superb seafood dinner (Thanks Suk Goong for arranging it) and had a good rest on a more comfy bed.

The next day, we had a wonderful seafood lunch (mind you, high cholestrol stuffs) and visited the 116year old St Michael's and All Angels' Church and the famous Agnes Keith House.

The construction of the first stone building in Sabah began in 1893 and took almost 30 years to complete; St Michael's and All Angel survived the WWII. The Church was also one of the many places where the Prisoners of War who trekked the Sandakan Death March spent a night before continuing the march.

Admiring the architecture of the building, as Baby C slept in my arms and Koko C was sleeping in the car. You should see the church's door stopper mechanism (too bad we didnt take a photo of it!)

The place that I have been longing to visit, the house of Agnes Keith who penned the Land Below the Wind (1939) book.

Macam rumah sendiri kan! lol! Welcome!! Jemput masuk!

As I entered her house, I actually had an eerie feeling about the whole place. Not only me, but most of us who were there; at the same time, I was admiring and imagining how it was living in the 1930's. Everything described in her book came alive! The ambience, the furniture and fittings.. and as if I could hear radio was playing the 1930s songs and saw Agnes herself was outside playing with George and the Upsie-daisy : their Orang Utan pet... Went upstairs, only Rikki could described my feelings... geesh! May not write too much here... having goosebumps right now.

Soon after the visit, we drove back to KK slowly, arrived home past midnight... I think after this trip, everyone seemed so tired and werent looking forward for what is in our next itinerary... So, instead of driving 3 hours up North, we decided to scrap the Kudat trip and instead we went to somewhere closer : the Mari-Mari Cultural Centre in Inanam & Manukan Island for a splash!


chegu carol said...

I hear Gomantong cave is calling me too. I must find time to go this place. Nicely take pictures!

Anonymous said...

Celine, I really enjoyed looking at the photos and reading the post on all your recent travels... Now I feel like bringing the family and going to all the places you mentioned.By the way, I felt the same way as you when I visited the Agnes Keith house... but all was okay after I stepped into the English Tea House and had my tea :-)
Aren't we so lucky to be in Sabah with all the natural wonders.... :-)

Joan D'Arcy said...

hahaha... bah, misti pigi tu... banyak geng ko menunggu!

You must bring the kids to Sukau (if u havent). I can imagine, your kids will love it! Too bad, we didnt see elephants that day... ABout the Agnes Keith house, we didnt manage to stop by at the English Tea House. Everyone was too tired to walk another step, dreading to have their comfy bed again.. sigh!! Still have the goosebump when I think about it... nanti I cerita you what happened... heheheheh

cindy said...

I've never been to Gomantong yet.. shame on me lah. Haha. But I MUST, MUST find one day to visit there lah someday.

Nice kan Agnes Keith's house? Only been there once and forgot to take photos of all things! :(

PS: What happened at Agnes Keith house? Ceritalahhhh ...! I love this kind of story! :D

Joan D'Arcy said...

Hi Cindy,
No lah.. I think places to visit in Sabah, geographically, is too far from one another. Lagipun jalan buruk bah kan... malas mo drive sini sana unless you got a good, realiable, robust car! hahahaha... Pasal Agnes Keith tu.. ehhhmm... nanti la I cerita.. seram for me to think about it at this hour.... giving me goosebumps........ penakut bah sia ni.. kekekek

Uncle Lee said...

Hello Joan, nice blog. I enjoyed looking at the beautiful, well taken pics. Funny how I missed these caves when I was there few times.
Guess I was busy admiring other sceneries, *wink*.
You have a happy Merdeka day, and keep a song in your heart, best regards, Lee.

C h i t r o said...

You will get hot pictures and descriptions on PHOTOMOTO

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