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Miri: Niah Caves


Niah Caves (there are more than one, connected to each other) is an important historical site for Sarawak. Archaeologists unearthed series of prehistoric treasures, among them, a human skull of over 40,000 years giving evidence of Homosapiens dwellings in these caves and making it one of the earliest findings of human existence in South East Asia. Niah Caves covers an area of 11 hectares (equivalent to the size of three football fields), is also one of the oldest caves in the world.

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The first cave that greeted us was Trader's Cave. During its heydays, guano (bat droppings) and swiftlet nest collectors meet their traders here to sell off what they've collected. The only remains today are the wooden structure (belian) and overhanging limestones.

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After a steep climb from Traders' Cave, we arrived at the west mouth of Niah's Great Cave.

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Bamboo poles were wedged onto the cave ceiling as ladders for Penan collectors to climb up and collect swiflet nests, and sold as Chinese's prized bird nest.

The Great Cave measures 60m high and 250m wide which makes it ideal for bat dwellings. The cave turned pitch dark as we dwelled further. The ammonia-filled air, stepping on the soft layers of bat droppings under our feet and the squeaking sounds of bats and swiftlets invoked eerie feelings in us. We moved on quickly to search for the Painted Cave. Soon, we reached the back of the cave which offered us a breath of fresh air and sunlight.

Painted Cave was a further 20mins walk where prehistoric human-like paintings drawn on red hematite were located. It's difficult to make out the drawings as the area has been fenced off. I later read that the drawings were supposed to represent some funeral dance rituals since it was also a burial site evidenced by the boat-shaped coffins and human remains found in the same area. These historical treasures are now housed in the Sarawak Museum in Kuching.

Located at the West Mouth of Great Cave in Niah is the escavation site where a 40,000 years human skull was unearthed in 1958.

Posted by mingtravel 11:17 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Miri: Niah National Park


Niah National Park, located in the district of Miri, Sarawak, is about 15km from Batu Niah town and 131km from Bintulu. We took a bus from Bintulu at 10.30am and arrived in Batu Niah town around noon time. From there, we hired a local taxi, at the cost of RM10 per person, to Niah Park Headquarters. We've asked Suai, the Iban driver, to return at 5pm later that day to send us back to the bus station for our onward journey to Miri.

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Crossing the river from park headquarters to Niah Caves. DON'T do this in Niah National Park.

Niah Caves is a further 3.5km away from the boat depot. It was a nice one-hour walk on plankwood covered with moss and canopy trees though some sections were quite worn down and undergoing repair.

Posted by mingtravel 11:13 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Wild Mushroom Herbal Steamboat

Yunnan, CHINA

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One of the most appetizing lunch we had in Yunnan was the wild mushroom steamboat, just before our roadtrip to Dali. Those familiar with hot pot would know it's a pot of soup placed in the middle of the table underneath a gas stove and everyone tucks-in in a communal manner as food is cooked. The stock of this particular one, is made out of herbs and chicken. Our local guide added 'tian chi' (yet to discover its scientific name) powder to the soup; a kind of herb widely found in Yunnan, which promotes blood circulation. Of course, the true modus operandi was to encourage folks to buy the herbs but well, we didn't mind.

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Once the stock in the pot is near boiling point, wild mushrooms were thrown into the pot to cook. With its climate and rich resources, Yunnan is the largest wild mushroom harvest in China. Over 300 varieties of wild mushroom is found in Yunnan, we sampled over 10 varieties that day - some familiar yet some not.

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Posted by mingtravel 07:46 Archived in China Tagged food Comments (0)

Kunming: Over the Bridge Rice Noodles

Yunnan, CHINA

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Today, we finally get to sample Yunnan's famed Across the Bridge Rice Noodles or "Guo-Qiao Mi-Xian" as it is known in Chinese. Legend has it that guoqiao mixian came about when a young scholar retreated to another place to prepare for his imperial examination. His loving wife would travel and cross a nearby bridge to bring him his daily meal. Frequently, his meal would turned cold by the time it gets to him. One day, quite by chance, she discovered a bowl of chicken soup could keep warm with a layer of oil on top. From the on, she would serve the noodles and meat slices with the oil layer soup and the young scholar could enjoy a warm meal every day. When the scholar did well in the examination, he credited his success to his wife's noodles hence, this dish Across the Bridge Rice Noodles was made known.

Back to the present, the noodles can be sampled from many places in Yunnan. We had ours in a restaurant in Yunnan's Nationalities Village, after a leisure visit to Naigu Stone Forest that morning. When we arrived at our assigned table, each person has been assigned a plate of thinly sliced raw meat (chicken, pork and fish), blanched vegetables (beansprouts, chives and beancurd slices) and noodles.


Next, came a piping hot bowl of soup and the fun starts - stir in all the meat slices and keep stirring the soup until meat is cooked (it will be cooked, for sure).


Add in vegetables and the rest, and voila! a bowl of delicious noodles to keep our tummies warm in the cool weather.


Posted by mingtravel 07:45 Archived in China Tagged food Comments (1)

Kunming: Yiliang Roast Duck

Yunnan, CHINA

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Today, en route Jiuxiang Scenic Spot, we had lunch at Yiliang, a county about 50km southeast of Kunming. Yiliang Roast Duck is said to be comparable to Beijing Roast Duck. As proof to this, we were served two ducks and they were gone the instance I was done with the photos.


The Yiliang roast duck is crisp in skin and tender in meat. Similar to Beijing roast duck, it is served with flowered spring onions, pepper and salt dip, and duck sauce. However, unlike in Beijing where roast duck is skinned and wrapped in pancake, Yiliang duck is eaten as a whole. The secret behind the taste and fragrance of Yiliang roast duck is that it is roasted over pine leaves. A Taiwanese travel host was said to have eaten ten Yiliang ducks at one go!

We dined in a room complete with strewn hays and low stools, made to resemble open grasslands albeit a man-made one.


In the same meal, we were served a local fish deep fried with dried chilli and garlic. Dried chilli, synonymous with Yunnan, rendered color and spice to the fish. Though it was a tad too salty and bony for our usual palate, it was good nevertheless.


And nothing will top this culinary experience. I have always stayed on the sideline when it comes to food that crosses my imaginary safety line. It prevents searching for emergency bushes when on the road. But heck, we're in China, right? I was somehow coerced to try an obscure-looking plate of fried larvae. Well, I was sure glad I tried that before seeing it in its raw form!

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Posted by mingtravel 07:49 Archived in China Tagged food Comments (0)

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