I have been into caves for spelunking activity, but getting inside tunnels used for mining, I have not. That’s why learning that the trip to Pahang, Malaysia includes a trip to the one of the deepest tin mines in the world gave me another reason to join the team going to Pahang courtesy of AirAsia Philippines and Tourism Malaysia.
Sungai Lembing, a town in Kuantan District, Pahang, Malaysia, was known as a prime mining spot for tins back in the days from 1800s to 1980s. It was only between 1984-1986 that the biggest mining company leasing in the area, Pahang Consolidated Company Limited, folded up as the global price of tin dropped, not anymore suitable for big company, like PCCL to be profitable.
Since then, the former crowded, progressive area of Sungai Lembing, became a quiet town, far from the very prominent place it was during the tin mining era.
However, it was only in 2003 that the rich history of Sungai Lembing, became an attraction to tourists of Pahang, when it opened the Muzium Sungai Lembing, followed by the mines in 2012 for underground tours. So the new era of Sungai Lembing emerged, as a heritage site for tourists.
SUNGAI LEMBING MUSEUM
When we got to village, we headed first to the Sungai Lembing Musuem to get a a clearer picture of the history of the place, specially the mining. The Sungai Lembing has one of the largest and deepest tin mines in the world.
A total of 322 km (1056.43 ft) tunnel length to as much as 700 meters (2,296.59 ft) deep. The numbers may not amaze you, but here is a more graphic comparison. The Petronas Twin Towers (highest twin towers in the world at 451.9 meters) and the Shangai Tower (2nd tallest tower in the world at 632 meters) can sink in the depths of the Sungai Lembing mine tunnels. That’s how deep this tin mining is.
So literally, getting inside the Sungai Lembing Museum will give you a “DEEP” understanding about the mine history. 😉
The museum also stores a number of items like photos, equipment, tin products, that can show the “Golden era” of the place.
On a side not, the museum now, is what used to be the residence of the general manager of the PCCL.
SUNGAI LEMBING MINES
After the museum, comes the fun part, going inside the tunnels.Don’t be mistaken, as theSungai Lembing Mines is minutes away from the museum.
A brief orientation is done outside just before going inside the mine.
Then, you are to ride the “MINECRAFT” a replica of the old vehicle they used to go inside the mines. The ride is a quick 20 – 30 second-ride entering the tunnel, before the walk inside starts.
*SIDENOTE: PCCL started in 1886, thus the marker on the minecraft. It closed in 1986. So, a total of 100 years of official operation.
Inside the tunnels, path for tourists are safe, flat and easy to walk through, even for children and older adults.
There are specific areas wherein you need to stop if you want to learn more of how mining was in those tunnels. There are audio-visual aids at designated areas for better understanding about the history of the place.
Aside from videos, there are areas inside the tunnels wherein you can experience how the miners before do their jobs – like carrying loads of tin ores.
There are also places inside where they preserved the original state of the mining areas so you can have a picture of how hard it was for the miners before to pound on every spot to make subterranean ways and how they mine for tin ores back in the days.
Honestly, I can’t imagine their condition back then, with less of the technology and safety gears of today versus the depth and length they mine those days. Whew.
It takes about 1 hour to complete the tour. The tunnels used the natural airways, probably why there were areas inside the inner tunnels that I experienced a thinning of oxygen, same area where I felt it a bit hotter.
But generally, the whole trip inside is very feasible to any tourists, except probably to claustrophobics of course.
When you get outside, you can still check out the pump trolley, used back in the days to transport tin ores going out of the mines.
The Sungai Lembing Mines is preserved and restored to its original state. Authorities of the State made sure that the mine is safe for tourists before opening it to the public.
TIPS WHEN GOING INSIDE THE SUNGAI LEMBING MINES
- Wear comfortable dress.
- Best to wear running shoes. Do not wear high-heeled shoes and slippers.
- Bring cameras with flash or bring extra LED light for your photos.
- It is hotter outside the mines, so expect to sweat a lot when you exit.
RATES AND OPERATING HOURS (source: Sungai Lembing Mine)
|Admission and Rates|
How to Get There (source: Sungai Lembing Mine)
From Kuala Lumpur, use the East Coast Highway to get to Kuantan and the drive takes about three hours. Exit at Kuantan Toll Plaza, turn right at the first traffic lights and follow the directions on the signboard. Sungai Lembing is about 30 minutes drive away. An hourly bus service is available from the Kuantan bus terminal.
Pahang is accessible via Kuala Lumpur. There are flights going to Kuala Lumpur from the Philippines. AirAsia currently has two (2) flights daily to Kuala Lumpur from Manila.
But starting Ocober 29, AirAsia will have Manila-Kuala Lumpur flights 3x daily while 4x weekly Cebu -Kuala Lumpur flights 4x starting Oct 30, 2016.
So any trips going to Kuala Lumpur, Pahang or any other Malaysian destination from the Philippines can be connected via Manila-Kuala Lumpur or Cebu-Kuala Lumpur trips.
And to know more about Pahang or any other destinations in Malaysia, you can always check out the Tourism Malaysia official website.