Climbing the walls of the legendary Fairy Cave
By Patricia Hului
Once upon a time, there was a young orphan boy who lived with his grandmother.
They did not have much to eat, which led the boy to wander out in search of food.
It so happened that one day he came across a longhouse which had been celebrating and feasting for two whole days.
In the midst of their merrymaking, the boy approached the villagers begging for food.
The longhouse people appeared to take pity on him, giving him a package wrapped in banana leaves which the boy then dutifully brought home to his grandmother.
To their disappointment, when they opened the package they found nothing but chicken bones and worms.
Enraged, the old woman then plotted her revenge on the longhouse people, instructing the boy to return to the longhouse and place a black cat in woman’s clothes right in the middle of their festivity.
If the villagers laughed at the cat, a terrible curse would befall them.
The boy obeyed. Returning to the longhouse, the moment he placed the cat dressed in women’s clothes down, the longhouse people laughed at the sight of the cat, and subsequently turned to stone.
The legend goes that the unusual stalagmite formations found at the Fairy Cave Nature Reserve, Bau are those selfsame villagers who laughed at the cat.
It is also believed that the cave was named after a stalagmite structure at the cave entrance which resembles Guan Yin, a Chinese deity.
These rock formations are reported to have taken form over thousands of years ago.
Crawling up the wall
The majestic stalagmites and stalactites may be the stars of the cave but the high wall of Fairy Cave also attracts an equal amount of visitors.
On any given Sunday, you could find a group of climbers scaling the cave walls.
One of the climbers, Caroline Holke, who started to rock climb in 2008 shared how the group came to gather there on Sundays.
“Sundays are the only free time we had. For the ladies here, we are mothers and we are usually busy on weekdays.”
According to the mother of two, they try to meet up at around nine in the morning to start climbing.
“It does not feel nice to climb under the hot sun; you feel hot and sweaty,” Caroline shared.
The Fairy Cave has eight separate walls with over eighty climbs in different ranges of difficulties.
Some part of the cave walls such as Tiger Wall, Orchid Wall, Stage Wall and Batman Wall falls under Koperasi Fairy Cave Heritage Kuching Berhad, a company made of 17 villages in Korokong area about two years ago.
Since then, they started to charge climbers a RM50 fee for two persons.
Apparently, the move stopped some avid climbers from climbing in the area but not Caroline and a dozen of her fellow climbers.
She commented, “The good thing was that they built a proper toilet nearby, making it convenient for us climbers here.”
A beautician by day, the rock climbing hobbyist had her husband to thank for introducing her to the activity.
“Rock climbing is totally different. When you hike or trek, you just make sure that you move forward and take one step at a time but rock climbing requires core strength and techniques,” shared Caroline, who has always been into jungle trekking and mountain climbing before her husband introduced her to rock climbing.
When The Borneo Post SEEDS sat down to have chat with Caroline and her fellow climbers, the group was busy having fun scaling the Batman wall.
Some claimed the Batman wall was the crown jewel of Sarawak’s climbing spots because tackling the overhangs requires a lot of upper body strength.
“I wouldn’t suggest Batman Wall for any beginner, but there were some spirited novices who made their attempt on that wall and succeeded.”
A tourist attraction a stone’s throw away from Bau
Located 6km from Bau town and 30km from Kuching, Fairy Cave was established as a nature reserve on May 23, 2013.
Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg talked highly of the cave and its neighbouring nature reserve Wind Caves last January.
He believed these two sites could outshine the Stone Forest, a significant set of limestone formations located in Kunming, China.
Abang Johari admitted however, that both caves had not been properly managed and maintained.
Nonetheless, it has not stopped tourists from visiting the cave for what it has to offer within but also what it has to offer to intrepid adventurers.
If you need more information on climbing at Fairy Cave, click on http://www.climb.my/routes/sarawak/bau.