By D’Drift Team
MIRI, July 7: Gunung Buda National Park which consists of the Turtle Cave and 20 other caves is among some of the tourist destinations in Limbang Division that Batu Danau assemblyman Paulus Palu Gumbang hopes to promote.
He said Gunung Buda (which means ‘white’ in the Lun Bawang language) cave system alone can provide extensive caving experiences for locals and international tourists.
Paulus had joined the D’Drift Team for a two day, one night trip to Gunung Buda and visited one of the caves – the Turtle Cave – from July 5 to 6 for a firsthand experience as it holds a very high tourism potential.
The Turtle Cave has two levels; the lower level which consists of an underwater cave system which can be explored by canoe while the upper level is a dry cave which is reachable through another route.
“Presently, Tanah Merah-Mentawai Road is under construction. When it is completed, Gunung Buda will be more accessible to visitors. On top of that, basic facilities must first be installed at Gunung Buda,” Paulus told D’Drift Team after the trip.
“What we are worried about is, when we have the road, we don’t have the facilities like accommodations at the Gunung Buda to cater for visitors,” said Paulus.
He hoped both the Federal and Sarawak government would look into the construction of these basic facilities such as a pathway, accommodation, and sanitary facilities so that the whole place could become a tourist-friendly destination without disturbing the ecosystem.
Paulus, who is also Sarawak Assembly Backbenchers’ Club chairman, said the Buda Caves was linked to Mulu through the famous Headhunter Trail.
“Those adventurous visitors may take the Headhunter Trail to Kuala Terikan. They can stay at Mentawai Guesthouse and from there proceed to the Mulu Pinnacle. The Buda Cave facilities may play a supporting role for the Mulu trip,” said Paulus.
He said if there was a proper trail in the Buda Caves National Park, then from Mentawai to Mulu headquarters, the distance would be about 18 kilometers.
For those who are seeking a thrill in hiking and trekking as well as a bit of a challenge, it takes only a day’s journey.
Meanwhile, experienced tour guide Larry Siga who has been dealing with tourists for the last two decades also echoed that basic facilities were necessary to cater to the needs of tourists should the Sarawak government be looking into opening the Buda Caves to the public.
“All tourists are the same. The international tourists may look forward to the adventure but toilets and accommodations must be clean. So hostel lodging for groups and chalet accommodation for couples are essential if the Buda Caves are to be opened to the public,” said Larry.
Larry, however, stressed that the accommodations should not be located too near to the cave system to avoid disturbing the ecosystem surrounding it.
Meanwhile, apart from the Buda Caves, Paulus mentioned other tourist destinations in Limbang Division worth promoting such as the Kampung Meritam volcanic mud pools, the fireflies and proboscis monkeys of Muara Limbang and other upcoming interesting places with high tourism potential.
Paulus said there is some funding from Northern Region Development Agency (NRDA) to provide basic infrastructure for tourism spots in Limbang but they are not enough.
“We need a lot of funding. Solely depending on NRDA will not be sufficient. We hope tourism ministries from both state and federal will chip in.
“Limbang is like an island surrounded by foreign countries. We need to develop these tourist destinations,” said Paulus.—DayakDaily