"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

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

In the middle of nowhere!

Yup... that is how I would put Belaga. When the express pulls into Belaga, you feel like its the final frontier. This sleepy little town where time forgot feels like its cut off from the rest of the world. In reality its situated less than 100kms from the coastal town of Bintulu. However, the road connecting Belaga to Bintulu is a poorly maintained ex-logging track hence the poor assesibility.

The main people group in this area are the "Orang Ulu" or the Up-River Folks. They consist of the Kenyah, Kayan, Punan, Penan and a few of the other smaller tribes. The Lun Bawang as well as the Kelabit are also considered Orang Ulu but they're mainly found in the Bario highlands.

A warm welcome to the Final Frontier

As mentioned in my previous post, the other point of access to Belaga is by the river.

The Mighty Rejang gets narrower as it nears the Bakun Dam

From Belaga, it takes another 1 hour upriver to get to the dam. I was told the Rejang used to flow crystal clear along this stretch before the Bakun embankment. It was much deeper so there were no issues with the boulders along the Pelagus. Sadly also, fish such as empurau, tengkadak & semah no longer abound in these waters due to siltation and surface run off full of pesticides & herbicides.

After the short climb up the jetty stairs...

Short but steep
You need to be NYHA Class I-II to manage!

You're already in town!
On your immediate right is the old clinic.

What's left of the old clinic.
It has now moved to swankier quarters.

There are, I think 3 rows of shoplots in total. But don't be fooled... this place has:

A Backpackers
LP has got reviews about this place

A few other shoddy joints to cater to the budget conscious

I can't help but wonder why they need so many rooms here in Belaga. In the 3 days I was there, I only met 1 'ah moh' traveler. Doubt there were other local tourist either.

A cinema
Unsure if it was still in operation.

The local playground
Rumoured to be the venue of many a cock fights!

A little further out of town, I chanced upon this.

The Jubilee Cross
Pretty dramatic against the impending storm clouds!

If I'm not mistaken, the cross was erected in 2000 by the local church to commemorate ?the new millenium, or maybe just some significant milestone in the Belaga Christian community.

About 1.5kms away from town is Klinik Kesihatan Belaga. Initially, it was planned as a hospital but somewhere along the way, it was downgraded to clinic status. Still brand spanking new, with various unused facilities. If I'm not mistaken, the PM flew in on a helicopter last year to officiate the facility.

Unfortunately, just outside the clinic is this eyesore.

All of Belaga's trash gets dumped here!

Totally unhygienic. There are crows all over the place picking at garbage. I shudder to think of what will happen when this landfill reaches its capacity and flows over into the nearby clinic grounds! Even the effluent that leaches from it.... yucks!!!

Don't get me wrong, I like Belaga. In fact, I look forward to my visits here.  The local folks are friendly (will tell you more in the next post). There's even Celcom 3G coverage, unlike Song where it is patchy. However, think the town planners  really screwed up big time.

Will leave you my dear readers with something less dour...

A gorgeous Belaga sunset!

PS: Shiowch- Remember the book you gave me "In the Middle of Nowhere"? Think Belaga deserves an entry too!

Monday, February 25, 2013

It's great to be back!

Sorry for the lack of updates. Have been travelling quite abit. In fact, just before CNY, I was literally living from my backpack. 1 week in Belaga & Asap, 2 days back in Song to do laundry, pack up the bags then its another week up the Katibas to run my rural clinics. Came back, did laundry again & worked 2 days before going off to Kuching for a couple of days, both for work & play (met an old uni friend). After that, took the boat back up the Rejang, did laundry, worked for a couple of days then BACK HOME to collect angpows! Wow... what a cycle!

Now I know what it feels like to be in the airlines. Only thing is, in the airlines you stay in fancy hotels, get chauffeured to the airport & things usually work out as scheduled. Here along the Batang Rejang, be grateful you even have a mattress to lie on, a seat on the express (coming home for CNY, I had to choose between the roof or the floor. I chose the later!) and always expect the unexpected anytime!

No such luxury during the CNY rush!

I'm not complaining. This is an experience of a lifetime. Something to tell the kids & the grandkids about!

Plus, I've got Elliot as my travel companion!

Elliot the eagle ray's game for an adventure,
 whether above or below water!