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Perak ~ Tambun Cave & Kuala Gula

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Tambun Cave Paintings

The caves bear 2,000-year-old paintings dating back to the Neolithic era depicting the life of early inhabitants of the peninsula. For such a significant historical site, it has been ashamedly left obscure and relatively hard to locate. To get to the cave, you will need a good pair of walking shoes and have to climb a flight of relatively steep concrete 141 steps overgrown with weeds and leaves. A smooth limestone cliff overhangs the ledge.

On this white stone, 20 feet or more above the ledge, are a number of paintings of wildlife, people and abstract designs. Gua Tambun is believed to be one of the caves in Malaysia with hematite (iron oxide) drawings. Discovered by Lt. R.L Rawlings of the 2nd Battalion, 6th Q.E.O Gurkha Rifles in 1959 while on a routine patrol in the area, he unearthed one of the greatest finds in Malaysian History.

There are 30 forms of paintings on the wall, which include human, abstract and animal designs depicting their surroundings. A few of them were about 3m across. The paint is dark purple, in others, dull red. Some of the figures are obviously men, rather crudely drawn. Some of the animals are easily identified,
others are rather vague.

But most of the paintings are quite clear; there are wild boars and a dugong, a tapir and some deer. The deer are particularly interesting, they all have the appearance of pregnant does, and one even has a small infant drawn inside its swollen belly! At one time, this gallery of pictures extended for more than a hundred feet, but time and the weather have obliterated a large portion of it.

However, enough remains to prove that at one time men living in Lembah Kinta, although primitive, were able to illustrate their lives rather vividly. Intriguing enough, there are even seashells found at the base of the 'cave', signifying that the area was once, in all probability filled with and surrounded by sea water, but this would have been thousands of years ago. The cave also contained some Neolithic artifacts but have since been removed.

The signboard put up by the Museums Department had also been defaced. The site is in danger of erosion due to inadequate protection. It is our hope that the proper authorities take note be it state or federal and it does not become another act of doing too little too late.
To get there - exit on the Ipoh highway entrance, you should be able to notice signboard to Tambun. The caves signboard is small, hard to make out. Make sure you ask local residents for direction. The distance is approximately 10km out of Ipoh city centre.

Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary

Kuala Gula in the north west of Perak, is home to many migratory and Malaysian birds. There are approximately 166 species that can be found in this protected sanctuary. Kuala Gula is a stopover for various species of birds when they migrate from the North to South Hemisphere especially from Siberia and Mongolia. During the migration season between August and April every year, more than 200,000 migratory birds representing some 50 species stop over here. The numerous species include Mycteria Cinerea and the Laptopilos Javanicus which are from Siberia.

Kuala Gula itself is a a fishing settlement in the Kerian District, located on the coastline of Perak, approximately 50 km to the west of Taiping. It is part of the Forest Reserve, which is actually a mangrove swamp area. - The Matang Mangrove Forest, covering 40,000 hectares, which is the largest stand of mangrove ecosystems in Peninsular Malaysia. These ecologically abundant mangrove habitats stretch along the west coast tidal mudflats of northern Perak for almost 50km plus another 40km along the shorelines of the sheltered river systems within the reserve's five estuaries.

Over 160 species have been spotted, including the Milky Stork, Flowerpecker, Wood sandpiper, Gull-billed Tern, Brahminy Kite, plovers and the White-bellied Sea-eagle. The abundance of water birds in these areas has made Kuala Gula prominent both locally and internationally, especially to bird watchers.

Many visitors both local and overseas from United States, Australia, Europe, Japan and other countries had visited Kuala Gula to watch these birds.

Beside birds, several species of mammals such as squirrels, rats, bats, otters, Silver-leaf Monkey, Long-tailed Macaques, wild pigs, Bottle-nosed Dolphin, Ridge-backed Dolphin, Leopard Cat and civets were also observed in these areas. Reptiles such as Water Monitor Lizard, Clouded Monitor Lizard, Python, and mangrove snakes are common here.

Visit the Bird Conservation Project Interpretation Complex to get a host of information on the project birds and other animals. The best time to visit is between September and December, when thousands of birds can be seen in the area. Boating trips are available either from Kampong Gula or Kuala Kurau.

Several government resthouses and chalet are available for visitors intending to visit the sanctuary. There are ten moderately priced chalets for those who wish to stay at Kuala Gula.
Location: About180km from K. Lumpur on the North South Highway, about 38km from Taiping via the Kamunting exit.

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