"Birds, bugs and beautiful caves" State of Sabah Things to Do Tip by ayesh

State of Sabah Things to Do: 272 reviews and 407 photos

by ayesh

When you?re on your way to the Kinabatangan river anyway, you really should take a right hand turn on the dirt road to visit the Gomantong Caves. The caves are the home of thousands of swiftlets, who make tiny little nests at scaring hights. Three times a year during 2 weeks a group of men will harvest these nests just before the eggs are dropped into them. The swiftlets are not harmed, it?s just very inconvenient because they will have to spit a whole new nest together. Yes, the nests are made out of spit (saliva). The workers and the collecting of the nests is being supervised by the government and nature preserving organizations, so it is under strict regulations.
There are two caves: Simud Hitam (black cave) and the Simud Putih (white cave), which refers to the purity of the nests. The white ones are of purer saliva, without much other materials and the black one contain also feathers. All the collected nests are exported to China, for it is a wanted delicacy (and expensive too!).
Simud Hitam is easiest to reach and has a 90 meters high roof. We were so lucky to find the workmen collecting nests when we were there. The men climb and climb, no safety-lines attached, on bamboo ladder and amazingly positioned ropes all the way up to be able to reach the small spit pockets. They truly risk their lives. An unbelievable sight.
Just one tip: if you?re afraid of cockroaches, centipedes and other creepy crawlies? you?d better stay outside. I have never seen so many bugs in one place: billions of them, wherever you shine your torch on the floors/ceilings/walls?. Oh yeah? and don?t step on the soil? stay on the wooden boards. Trust me.

Address: on the road to Sukau
Directions: south of Sandakan, east coast

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Aug 29, 2003
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