Topping many travel bucket lists is Malaysia.
With its vibrant cities, incredible food stunning sandy beaches and breathtaking rainforests teaming with wildlife you dream of encountering, it’s a one-stop shop for the traveller intent of exploration and relaxation. Aside from the more famous landmarks of the Petronas Towers or the monkey-filled Batu Caves, there are a plethora of hidden gems awaiting the curious. If you are seeking a unique Malaysian adventure, make sure to visit some of the more unusual sights before they become a tourist trap.
Visit travelsupermarket.com/en-gb/flights/malaysia/ to book your perfect flight from wherever you are in the world. Perhaps you intend to make your trip a staycation, sites such as rumahdijual.com/jakarta-timur/perumahan-baru offer help with accommodation ideas.
Wreckage of RAF B-24 Airplane
On the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, nestled in the mountainside rainforest, sits the wreckage of a Royal Air Force B-24 Liberator. The plane went down while on a mission to the Malay Peninsula to drop supplies to the jungle-based resistance fighters of Negeri Sembilan, search for POW camps, and drop leaflets announcing the end of the War which had happened less than a week earlier. At the time of its loss, the plane and her eight man crew were more than a thousand miles from their Cocos Islands base. No distress signal was sent, but the plane disappeared, and it was assumed to have ditched into the sea.
Incredibly over forty-six years later in 1991, local Orang Asli tribesmen reported finding a wreckage site. When the locals came to the authorities in 1991, it was believed the plane may well be the missing RAF tail, yet expeditions to find out more didn’t start for another 15 years, in 2006.
British and Malaysian volunteers excavated the area in 2009 and discovered the remains of the crew and even some of their personal effects were intact and recovered. A touching ceremony to lay them to rest took place in 2012 at the Cheras War Cemetery in Kuala Lumpur.
Although located in the thick untouched jungle, the wreck is a popular destination for hiking groups. Although spread over a large area, you can still see well-preserved sections of the wings, the fuselage, the engine, and even some faint markings on the aircraft itself. The site is treated with respect, as a gravesite should be and you should also treat it as such should you venture out. Although the wreck is well worth the hike, to add to your visits, you will also be surrounded by abundant wildlife, including gibbons. There have been rumours of Sumatran rhinos sightings too, even though the species has been declared extinct on the Peninsula.
Need to Know
The wreck is located at Gunung Telapak Buruk. The mountain is approximately an hour’s drive to the south of Kuala Lumpur. The two hiking routes up to the wreck are well marked. The Northern way is the shorter of the two, but it does require a four wheel drive to get to the trailhead. The longer and more rugged challenging Southern route is a 20-kilometre trail and starts near the village of Kampung Pantai Baharu.
Cave of Cockroaches
Like many of its counterparts from all over the world, Borneo’s Gomantong Cave is not unusual for being home to an infestation of millions of bats, and it’s not that which flies above you that you need to be concerned about. It’s what lies beneath your feet.
A large number of different species live within the 300 foot-tall caves including swiftlets. These birds nests are the main ingredient of birds nest soup and are highly valued. Locals collect them using bamboo poles constructed loosely into ladders. The birds share their home with thousands of Wrinkle Lipped Free-tailed bats, and their nightly exodus indeed is a sight to behold.
Where there are millions of bats, there are tonnes of bat’s faeces, or more specifically the hundred foot tall pile of guano that has developed inside the cave, which is home to something much creepier. Millions if not billions of cockroaches and parasites feed on the bat droppings while the floor and walls move in a shimmer of shells akin to a horror film or at least something out of your worst nightmare. Located in Gomantong Hill, the cave is made up of two chambers, the Black and White Cave.
Not one for the fainthearted, the cave is accessed by a rickety wooden walkway leading visitors into the critter-infested wonderland. The question is, can you face the crunchy carpet?
In the mid-15th century, the Chinese Ming Emperor, sent his daughter Hang Li Pod to be married off to Mansur Shah, the Sultan of Malacca. The royal couple took up their sprawling residence on the 820,000 square foot hillside of Malacca. Despite small Malaysian elements to the estate, it was vastly outnumbered by the princess’s 500-person entourage and their Chinese culture, and this led to the site being dubbed Bukit Cina or Chinese Hill.
After Mansur Shah’s reign ended, Portuguese missionaries razed the site to the ground and established a monastery on top of the hill in 1581.
In 1685, a Dutch-appointed colonial official by the name of Kapitan Cina, charged with governing the Chinese population, officially designated the area to be a Chinese cemetery. Some previous burials had taken place including one of a well-known warrior who was killed during a conflict between Portuguese and Indonesian Acehnese invaders. Thousands more Chinese nationals who died in Malaysia would also be interred there over the centuries to come, and the Chinese graveyard grew to be allegedly the largest outside of China, with over 12,000 graves.
In 1984, the local government announced it would be developing housing and commercial property on Bukit Cina, as the cemetery had become overgrown and unused. The decision was met with public anger, with many hundreds of Chinese Malaysians stood forward in an attempt to protect their ancestral history. It worked, and the plans were scrapped.
Bukit Cina is now open to the public as a park, its calm serenity offering a respite to sit or walk among the ancient graves. As well as the gravestones, the graveyard also houses a Chinese World War II memorial as well as temples and wells erected by the Sultan Mansur Shah, including Hang Li Po Well. This well was explicitly built for the princess but is now considered lucky and has become a wishing well.
Need to Know
Bukit Cina is accessed by foot from Malacca and several hiking groups arrange visits to the site so it’s quite simple to plan ahead. The trail is well marked and regularly used and is a genuinely enjoyable experience for all those with interest in seeing history come to life.