Malaysia // The interior //

Gua Musang

GUA MUSANG (Civet Cave), 30km from Merapoh, is a former logging town strung thinly along a stretch of Route 8. A 100m-wide knot of scruffy old buildings, shops and services surrounds the train station, while a new satellite town coalesces 3km south. With Kota Bharu just a couple of hours away, the Malay accent here displays a distinctive Kelantanese twang, and alcohol is practically unavailable (for more on Kelantan society and politics, see chapter 4).

Gua Musang is fairly close to Taman Negara entrances at Merapoh and Kuala Koh; time spent between connections can be filled exploring the caves that riddle a mass of limestone above the train station.

To reach the caves, cross the rail track at the station and walk through the small kampung in the shadow of the rock behind the station. Once you’ve scrambled up the 20m-high rock face, along a loose path, you’ll see a narrow ledge; turn left and edge carefully along until you see a long slit in the rock that leads into a cave – you’ll need to be fairly thin to negotiate it. The interior is enormous, 60m long and 30m high in places, and well lit by sunlight from holes above. The main cave leads to lesser ones, where rock formations jut from the walls and ceilings. The only way out is by the same route, which you’ll need to take very carefully, especially the near-vertical descent off the ledge and back down to the kampung.

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