Places of Interest Near Kuching, Sarawak

Bau Travel Blog

 › entry 5 of 6 › view all entries
Main Chamber: See the group of people on the bottom left ? That's where you are just after the 1st dark stairway. You have an idea of scale from this picture.

Bau Town, located some 50km SouthWest of Kuching city.

Background of Bau :
Bau was a small town formed during the gold mining days of the district. Large number of Chinese gold miners settled here. The name Bau (in Malay language meaning smell or smelly) came by later when the miners started a failed uprising against the first Rajah James Brooke in the 19th Century. As colonial days went in those days, time was money (for self and country) So, it was a pretty quick massacre of the rebels. Survivors are few if any. I still haven't spoken to anyone whose descendants were direct survivors. Those I spoke with, their ancestors moved into the town after the incident.
View looking out from the smaller cave chambers.
(repopulation policies and good economics I guess on the part of the  colonial powers). Bodies in the streets  probably make strong effective statements on keeping good behavior. (bear in mind those labourers didn't speak much, if any English)

Population however has dwindled since the gold veins started to run out years back. Vegetation and farming is lush in this area. Does arsenic from the gold refining process promote growth ? I have noticed this in soil sampling of fertile land. Of course, too much kills.

Today, there is still a blacksmith who specialises in making quality knives, cleavers and such in Bau. For aspiring gangsters, samurais, cosplay fans - you will need to take a queue ticket. He only makes custom orders and doesn't entertain all and sundry.
There's also a few places with nice local cooked food and pastries around the town. So sorry I can't recall the name of the road, I just know how to return to the coffee shop by memory after being introduced to the place by a friend.

And, thanks to the gold mining activity,  the lake at Bau town (known as Tasik Biru / Blue Lake) is really quite clear. Why ? The arsenic in the water is waaaay over the WHO/FDA limits for any use, much less drinking. It keeps algae minimum even in the lake. However, there are fish in the lake and you can watch them happily swimming about in the 5m+ deep water. There is a small floating platform by the edge of the lake (you can dip your feet in the water and see if it falls off instantly !)  and food stalls nearby for you to enjoy the views while getting some light food.
The concrete stairs are easy but watch out for the wooden ones.

There are 2 caves easily accessible near Bau town.  One is Fairy Cave and the other is Wind Cave. To enter Wind Cave, you have to pay a small entrance fee. For Fairy Cave, there was no entrance fee then. Since it's free, why not give it a try ? This was my 2nd visit to the place. First time round it was a little late in the evening and having no torchlight.... I chickened out of wandering into the very very dark & steep stairway carved into the hill.

It's a quick warm up exercise as you need to ascend something like 30m worth of stairs to reach the cave entrance. Macho visitors can try scaling the hillsides and use the barely visible worn out steps on the hillside to gain entrance. Don't worry if you fall,  somebody will notice the stench from your decaying corpse days later and call the police to retrieve it.
The stairs on the left of the picture lead up to smaller cave chambers. These were used for habitation & storage. (Well lit naturally and airy)
This place isn't called 'Bau' for nothing.

The first part is rather troublesome as you are just getting accustomed to the darkness and you have to ascend a long flight of stairs. It's narrow and a little slippery(condensation, water dripping from the wall and bird/lizard/bat droppings) People may be coming down these same  stairs so take it easy. [ I forgot -torchlight rental is possible if you have arrived before late evening]

After making it through this part ( tall guys, watch your head) you will be at the foot of the main chamber. Hold on to your desire to snap too many pictures. The view is much nicer further up. You can take 2 routes, one leading to the right(rather steep for those without proper shoes) and straight ahead (leading further into the cave chamber).
Another 50m up, there is a small area for the less inclined to rest and kids to play. You can dump them here while you go exploring further.

When you do go right into the cave chamber, the wooden walkway may be broken at some parts. It was, when I was there. So please don't go pointing your light upwards or at all the rock formations then fall flat on your face. (being impaled on the rocks is even less appealing.) For a easy time, keep to the walkway and follow it all the way through the other side of the tunnel. You may want to stray off and see the more interesting rock formations but please do so with a partner. ( and common sense) It's very hard to get rid of the stench of dead bodies from such a cave system - we would very much like it if you don't kill yourself there, please.
Yup, you go up there. (by stairs, silly!)

My camera wasn't good enough to capture the formations in low light conditions so if you do manage to take some photos, share them in your blogs. Some of you may have problems if all alone in the dark even for a short time, so bring a friend along ! Almost everybody does, nothing to be shy about. Watch your shoes ! Damp floor + moss + guano + mud = slippery stairs / pathways. Unless you are used to wearing slippers like the VC (me included), do watch your step.

When in the darkness:
You can tell the nervous ones, they keep taking nonstop - and you can hear them far away. Just for fun, I turned my light off while about 50m from 2  fellows and kept going in their direction slowly. (I can see in relatively poor light compared to many people, why ? I really don't know but  my friends have some not so kind theories.
) Bit by bit we got nearer till we were less than maybe 10m away, I turned my light back on and they got a nice fright ! I told them my torch was playing up and I just managed to get it back on. ha ha ha, they were still out of breath, but trying hard not to show it. They were asking me if I left a friend behind in the darkness until I told them I was alone. Even more shocking for them I guess, if I had roared at them, they might have run for it. (or I might get beaten up and staked in the heart)

For those who have not been in cave systems, you might be surprised to find that the rock formations are quite soft on the outside. This is because the calcium and other minerals have not hardened yet. It may even be powdery though wet. (actually like slush)

sylviandavid says:
I only throttle people who sneak up on me... LOL... so take heed....
Posted on: Jan 31, 2010
almond72 says:
Ha ha ha, Does David go around in the caves distracting people while you throttle them ? What a nefarious pair ! :D :D
Posted on: Jan 30, 2010
sylviandavid says:
yikes Kong.... I'm not taking you into a cave.... sounds like you are a little joker .... I would have killed you if you sneaked up on me in the dark... You might have roared but you would stop when I throttled you....

It sounds interesting... David loves caves... Sylvia
Posted on: Jan 30, 2010
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Main Chamber: See the group of peo…
Main Chamber: See the group of pe…
View looking out from the smaller …
View looking out from the smaller…
The concrete stairs are easy but w…
The concrete stairs are easy but …
The stairs on the left of the pict…
The stairs on the left of the pic…
Yup, you go up there. 
(by stairs…
Yup, you go up there. (by stair…
The natural flora here- ferns.
The natural flora here- ferns.
photo by: almond72