WHS: Lenggong Valley, Malaysia

Conveniently right along the highway from Belum to Penang, our northwest Malaysia road trip continues through the small town of Lenggong, which to your initial glance holds nothing of spectacular interest…

… and well actually to most people it doesn’t at second third or any other glance either. But, to the inveterate World Heritage Site hunter, this is indeed a place of distinction: for this is the neighbourhood of the inscribed areas of the World Heritage Site

Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley

Perak Man was discovered within Gua Gunung Runtuh cave. Perak Man is South-East Asia’s oldest most complete human skeleton. It is radiocarbon dated to 10,120 BP and identified as Australomelanesoid, a hominid type occupying the western part of the Indonesia archipelago and continental South-East Asia at the end of the Pleistocene and early Holocene.

Within the large karst outcrop of Bukit Kepala Gajah are 20 caves. Three of these, Gua Gunung Runtuh, Gua Teluk Kelawar and Gua Kajang, have revealed prehistoric burials.

Together these four sites in two clusters sites represent the sequence of significant stages in human history unrivalled in the region…

So that’s of a rather select interest then … especially as all it’s easy to visit is the Lenggong Archaeological Museum, which is a bite-sized stop notable only for the chance to say hello to Mr. Perak:

Perak Man

who, archaeologically significant as he is, ’tis not the most witty of conversationalists.

Apparently if you are of the significance of a BBC journalist, and have a good bit of time on your hands, it is possible to get a permit to visit the actual caves:

Asia’s Secret World Heritage Site

The discoveries were so significant that in 2012 the Lenggong Valley was named Malaysia’s fourth and most recent Unesco World Heritage site – yet amazingly the area remains well under the world’s radar…

I also learned that it was possible to get an access permit for the caves. Despite it being totally unpublicized – there is no official English-language website for the museum and most tour operators don’t promote the site – a friendly local informed me that I simply had to e-mail the museum’s director, Sanjai Kumar, and wait until the permit came through…

But as the artifacts are all removed so they’re just empty caves now, that strikes us as something we can put aside without undue regrets until whenever we just happen next to have some time at loose ends in the Penang neighborhood.

But if you’re looking for something distinctly different than the usual run of tourist traps to relate from your Malaysia visit … doesn’t get much more distinctly different than this!


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