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Finding sanctuary in a Malaysian cave

March 19, 2009

Travelling through South East Asia opens countless doors of delights depending on where you go. Behind each door a unique experience awaits the traveller and when mixed together with others, defines this special corner of Asia. Karst (limestone) landscapes, cultural wonders, foods you never dreamed of, eastern religions, and sanctuaries within caves.

In an earlier post “Taking the Rose tinted Glasses off in Malaysia” I wrote about the black and white reality of one of Malaysia’s smaller cities-Ipoh. It may lack the glamour and romance of Penang and Kuala Lumpur, but it isn’t quite dead yet.

In Ipoh’s heat of the day, you can find sanctuary. Cool, calm, and widely colourful by way of Buddhist temples and shrines, living within the area’s famous limestone caves. Side by side these sanctuaries stand, crowded on holidays, quiet on weekdays. Apart from prayers and worship, nothing particularly interesting happens here. Unless you arrive there at the end of the day; when the residents come out to play.

by Cate

by Cate

Monkeys, shy with a hint of unexpected cheekiness. One could say past lives reincarnated, that is if one believed.

Devotees incense twist and burn wafting scent through the air; awakening senses and drawing you in.

by Cate

by Cate

Buddha sits before his followers, golden clad and mystical. Capturing their hearts, reassuring their faith, calming their fears.

by Cate

by Cate

These places of sanctuary, places of love, have accepted with compassion and openness believers and non-believers. They may not have formal structures and beams, but they do have spectacular colour-Chinese style.

by Cate

by Cate

When I arrived at these caves the glare from the colour shocked me. Freshly painted and cleaned for New Year celebrations, I was disappointed to see all this newness around me. After time, I realised the love and devotion of the followers, followers who dedicate their hours and money on upkeeping these sanctuaries, for all to enjoy.

Access to the cave temples is easy. The best way is by taxi. Walking, which I did, is not recommended. Most Ipoh maps are not true to scale – as I found out.

Caffeinated Traveller

  1. Erica Johansson permalink
    March 19, 2009 5:15 pm

    You never fail to create interesting blog posts. I’ve never heard about cave temples before. I hope I’ll get the chance to visit one some day.

  2. March 20, 2009 3:56 pm

    Nice photos (particularly the second one) and commentary, Cate. I really enjoy your travels. Thanks for sharing.

  3. March 20, 2009 7:46 pm

    Cate your posts are such a pleasant read as I sip my afternoon tea. Thanks for the good works…

    • March 22, 2009 5:48 am

      Sharon, Heather, Erica thanks ladies. These caves are kinda of unusual and no one really knows why temples have been set up here. Myanmar and Laos have some neat caves full of Buddhist icons particularly Myanmar. Maybe it’s a way of safeguarding from raiders.

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