Places of Interest Near Kuching, Sarawak
Bau Travel Blog› entry 5 of 6 › view all entries
August 7th, 2008 – by: almond72
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.
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.
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.
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 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).
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.
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.
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)
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