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Niah National Park

300 miles up the coast from Kuching, hidden in the forest of Miri is Niah National Park. The park spreads over 3,140 hectares of peat swamp and dipterocarp forest and massive limestone outcrops within which caves are concealed. Within the majestic enclave of the nearly 8,000 acre Niah National Park lies caves that have been gazetted as historical monuments. The limestone formation that is Niah Great Cave covers approximately 27 acres and is both a world renowned archeological site and a tourist wonderland. A 40,000- year-old skull was unearthed, along with a variety of tools, ornaments, and pottery of stone, shell and bone construction dating from both the old and new Stone Age! Close to the Great Cave is the Painted Cave (Kain Hitam). This cave was used by prehistoric man for religious and burial purposes as evidenced by the boat-shaped coffins containing bodies of the dead. Wall paintings of human like figures, rendered in thick bold stokes in red hematite cover some 32 meters. The collection of Bird's Nest is usually carried out between August to December and January to March each year. This is one activity that attracts a lot of attention and interest. Local gatherers climb up tall "ladders" to reach the birds' nests high up in the caves. The nests are valued for the medicinal properties of the bird's saliva binding the nest. Boiled with rock sugar, it makes a highly potent, not to mention delicious brew! It is considered by many as a Chinese delicacy.

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