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Interesting Places: Sarawak Chamber

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The Sarawak Chamber is the largest known underground chamber of its kind in the world. It is part of the ‘Good Luck Cave’ system which is located in Gunung Mulu National Park, in the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo.

The chamber is not yet fully explored, and roughly measures about 700m (2,300 feet) long, 400m (1,300 feet) wide and at least 70m (230 feet) high. To get a sense of how much space this is, imagine the amount of land you would need to park ten Boeing 747-400 aircraft in line.  That’s a lot of space! The irregular shape of Sarawak Chamber would probably fit at least 30 more inside if the ground was flat, and the entrance was big enough… well, it’s safe to say that I would have to be making a good number of assumptions indeed. In any event- It’s BIG.

There are no good photos of the chamber because it’s rather difficult to get to, and lugging along a light source powerful enough to light up the entire chamber just to get a photograph is not a trek that would provide a very good bang for the buck.

The story of the initial discovery itself is quite interesting as well. Andy Eavis, Dave Checkley, and Tony White – all highly accomplished spelologists wandered into the chamber not quite realizing what they were in. At some point they realized from the air and how sound carried that they were inside a large chamber, but their lights were not powerful enough to see where the border walls were. Imagine the terror of not knowing where the walls are, and that you’re just in the dark somewhere underground, clambering about in a field littered with giant boulders.

One of the men had a panic attack (the other two won’t say who of course) and they spent some time just trying to find a wall so that they could make a bearing. The whole story is documented in greater detail in the book “Underground Worlds” by Donald Jackson.

There are few places left on Earth that inspire such wild imagination of the unknown.

Written by Tijger Tsou

June 4th, 2009 at 1:06 pm

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