Weekend Gateway #2: Puu Jih Shih Temple and Gomantong Cave (Sandakan)

Hi there, yes this is another part for Sandakan trip and now we are going to venture the majestic place of Puu Jih Shih Buddhist Temple and Gomantong Cave. If you would love to know about this place then continue reading. I have posted Part 1 and Part 2 of this Sandakan trip so make sure the check them out too. 

 

Day 3: PUU JIH SHIH

We started off our last day in Sandakan with a light breakfast in the hotel that morning. It was still very early that the others have not woken up just yet. The toasts were very tasty but sadly I did not have the chance to have a sip of the tea. After we checked out the hotel and went ahead for our next destination, the Puu Jih Shih Temple, located a the very top of the highest hill in Sandakan. We were lost in the search for the temple at first although we did reach that crazy road going up there. This temple is open free for public.

Even the entrance of the temple was majestic with it’s long gigantic built. I was so amazed at it. There were statues lining up at both sides of the road which we assumed (since I personally don’t read Chinese characters) to be name of sponsors for the temples. Once we stepped in the area of the main building of the temple, I was shocked with amazement of how beautiful the view of the Sandakan town from the big balcony (?). Even the staircases facing up the sea were also an amazement. I did not bother peeking inside the temple at first because I was astonished by the surrounding of the temple and the calmness of the place. There was no other visitors except us that day and yes, no photobombing or posing shyly at the cameras.

There were a lot of temporary stairs that are used for constructions inside of the temple so I figured the place is currently under some major renovation. I did see two persons (or maybe more) silently working on the wall which was covered with wide plastics and I could see the temple is mainly coated in red and gold colors. The good colors in Buddhist tradition and cultures. I was a bit shy to go in as I did not know the rules or proper way to address respect of the temple so I was just there looking from the outside. Wondered how the inside would turn out once the renovation is finished.

We later left the place probably after 3-50 minutes and off to search for the UFO tart and bought like 30 tarts to bring back to our campus. 

Here are some tips I would recommend if anyone would be interested to come and pay a visit to the temple:
1. Come early. (Early birds get all the place for themselves, plus it’s quieter and the sun is not as hot)
2. Wear proper clothing. (It’s a holy religious place, clothing is a sign of respect)
3. Your car is working great. (The road going up is not a joke)
4. Don’t get too loud. 

Day 3: GOMANTONG CAVE (SIMUD HITAM CAVE)

We left Sandakan after we have taken brunch (which I had Black pepper Meat with Rice) but then our next stop was the Gomantong Caves. Gomantong is located in Sukau area, in between Kinabatangan to Sandakan road. It took us around 2 hours to get there. Once we arrived, the tourists were already leaving and only few locals were around.

 

We went to the toilet but I was quite disappointed with the condition because as my friends said, it was lacked of women’s touch. It was dark, dry and neglected. Still though, the water was running good so that helped a lot.

We then bought our tickets for RM5 each and walked off from the main entrance to the Simud Hitam cave for what felt like a very short trip, I would say less than 10 minutes. The entire trail was built on boardwalk so it was hassle-free to reach the cave. Upon reaching, there were few long houses where the harvesters lived.

My first though that came out upon entering the cave was that the cave smells quiet badly and it was dark. No caves never been smelly nor dark. (roll eyes).

At some corners, we had to walk in a total dark and since I did not have a torchlight, it was quite scary to walk through it. The birds were making loud noises and they freaked me out. I was also scared if the pooped on top of me, which one of my friends had. The cave was not long but it was in a round shape. The ceilings were however very much tall and away, super tall and one could crack their neck when looking up. The only entrance you came in and that was the only way to go out.  The cave did offer you to climb a little to the top, and a few big holes on the ceilings could seen which allows light to come in and help grow some green plants inside the cave. Pretty amazing right?

green plants yeay!
Beware that cockroaches are literally everywhere.

 

Since our trip was done in October so the nest collecting season was already over, which usually held between February to August. Having to say that, means we have missed the chance to see how the work is done.
cockroaches favorite spot but these things are used for nest collecting purposes.
After having some tour and taking quite a number of photos, we were ready to leave the place. I could really see big cockroaches everywhere. I even got to see few crabs nearby the boardwalk, where the slow water moves. Funny that we saw an Orang Utan with her little child hanging on of the pamelo tree. The harvesters were kind enough to help us get through the Orang Utan with the help of the barking sound of the their dogs. This one Orang Utan is wild and I am not joking that I was scared to death encountering them at this point.
Here are some tips I would really recommend if anyone would be interested to pay a visit and make a tour to this cave:
1. Wear proper clothing and shoes. (cockroaches and birds/bat’s poops are literally everywhere)
2. Bring a torchlight..that works. (You will have to walk in dark corners)
3. A tour guide.Arrange with the manager at the ticket counter or make a call before you come to arrange schedules. (You will learn a lot about the cave and your visit would be 10x worthy)
5. Come when it is a collecting season and learn at how the harvesters do their expertise in Bird’s Nest Collecting. 
 
I think those are just enough for us. There is other cave, namely Simud Putih around Gomantong Hill that are also offering visits for public but you would have to use the actual jungle track (without boardwalk) and it will take time, depending on how far is the cave you are interested to go. A guide would really be necessary because they know better and to make sure you come back in one piece. The caves and surrounding area are protected area for for wildlife and endangered animals, including Orang Utan. Even Orang Utan can be found in nearby boardwalk, what more could you find deeper in the forest?
Footnote:
More information about the caves can be further learned through this website. I hope you find this entry informative for you next visit to Gomantong Caves.
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