"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open." ~ Jawaharal Nehru

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

River travels tales

As you know, the Kapit division covers quite a large area which includes Belaga & Sungai Asap. So I travel there every 2 monthly to run clinics.

Getting to Belaga is an adventure itself. There's 2 ways of getting there - either up the Batang Rejang or through Bintulu. For me the journey it's a loop.

Firstly, need to get myself to Kapit as the express from Belaga leaves from there. So it's an early 7.45am ride from Song to Kapit, then a change of wharfs for the 9.00-9.30am express to Belaga (No fixed time as it depends on the water level). This time, the wharf guy managed to call his friend who was piloting the Bakun express, so it made a detour in Song to pick me up. However, still had to wait a good half hour in a heaving boat in Kapit to collect passengers before continuing on the journey. 

Me & heaving boats = Not good! 

What was interesting though was the ladies that charged into the express in Kapit. They sold everything from "chap fun" to satay (the love Bishop's nose on a stick here!), beer, some kind of funky coloured milky drink (think air bandung in purple & neon green) and packets of kuaci & peanuts!

Vendor aunties
Stayed the whole 1/2 hour in the express to enjoy 
the free AC & movie (some old Jacky Chan one)

What follows is a butt-numbing, hair raising ride up the Pelagus Rapid. Thank God they blasted some of the rocks last year, so the journey is not so treacherous anymore. Instead, of capsizing, there is more danger of hypothermia from 5-6 hours of frigid air-conditioning in the express. 
Mental note to self: Bring a thicker sweater next time!

Going down these rapids in a rubber dinghy is fun,
but in a inflexible, metal behemoth... not so!

Along the way, the express stops at the various longhouses to pick up passengers. There's no wharf or jetty here so they just wait along the banks of the Rejang & jump in as the express only makes a split-second stop! You have to be nimble and light on your feet to survive here.

Malboro man waiting for his metal stead
(Call him so cause he was chain smoking the whole journey...
plus he had some pretty scary looking tattoes)

As usual, the local villagers carried with them local produce so there was clucking, ribbit-ing, slip-slopping and all sorts of squishy noises coming from their baskets or plastic bags. Some of the lads even sat on top of the express to keep their produce company. I won't want to be caught doing that considering the only safety feature is a low railing and not a life jacket in sight!

This guy definitely has a death wish

After countless stops along the way, the express finally pulled into Belaga just before 3.00pm. Boy, was I glad to get my legs on land!

Finally, dry land!

And yes, I finally spotted a croc in the wild. Actually it was more like the croc's shadow. Was sitting at the port side door when the guy on the starboard side door explained excitedly "Buaya, buaya!". By the time I crossed over and followed to where his finger was pointing, all I could see (or imagined I saw) was a dark shadow. Ya, so no buaya pic for you guys!

Lesson to learn - don't swim in a river if you can't see your toes in it! Hahaha!

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