GRAND TOUR – DAY 6 continued
For my final stop on the southern loop of my Grand Tour I wanted to take a look at the caves at Gunung Senyum, about 30km from Temerloh in Pahang state.
Gunung Senyum (meaning Smiling Mountain) is a 478m high limestone outcrop which, together with its neighbour Jebak Puyuh, is easily visible from a long way off as it rises sharply above the surrounding oil palm plantations.
I could drive right up to the foot of the mountain and there was a car park, a snack shop, toilets and so on. There were coach loads of police cadets there doing some kind of exercise so I reckoned my car should be safe.
From close up I could see that the hill was riddled with holes like a Swiss cheese. A poster at the management office listed 25 caves. There was nobody around at the office to ask so I just went off and explored on my own.
An information plaque put up by Tourism Malaysia said that the limestone mountain was 3,000 years old whereas I had read elsewhere that it was 400 million years old. That’s quite a discrepancy! Since it takes stalagmites 100 years to grow 1cm, Tourism Malaysia’s figure seems a gross underestimate (perhaps just a typo).
There was a path round a vegetation-clogged lake and trails led off this path towards the caves. I investigated a few of the closest caves, some of which had ladders in place for easy access.
One of the caves, Makam Tok Long, contains the grave of Tok Long who, according to folklore, retreated to spent his final days in the cave after having been jilted by his wife whom, he claimed, was a fairy. He was clearly a nutcase!
From here the passageway narrowed until it became so tight that I was unwilling to risk squeezing through in case I got stuck with nobody there to rescue me.
Steps in the opposite direction led to Gua Gajah, a cave which was closed off to the public.
A notice board at the start of another trail had a badly weathered map which was difficult to make out but seemed to show the path to the summit of Gunung Senyum. A sign next to it (in Bahasa only) indicated a journey time of 6 1/2 hours (I have since learned that is both up and down) which, as it was already afternoon, I could not attempt even if I wanted to.
At this stage I was feeling tired and missing my family so I decided to end this first leg of my Grand Tour and headed home. In total I covered 1640km in 6 days. It was a little rushed but I had covered most of the sights that I had set out to see. I’ll be taking a break for a week or so before starting on the northern loop of my Grand Tour of Peninsular Malaysia.