Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Safari on a raft

PADAWAN Bamboo Raft Safari — now, that may sound like Anakin Skywalker taking up a new hobby. But it is a bamboo rafting competition organised by the Padawan Municipal Council at Sungai Sarawak Kiri in Kuching.

It is one of the biggest events in the Padawan region and I am about to undertake the gruelling 3½-hour challenge.

There are over 100 teams — all are up early and stretched out by the river of Kampung Padawan. Everybody looks eager and ready to tackle the river.

Rafts are basically 4.6m long and 1.2m wide, made of tightly bounded bamboo, giving enough room for four team mates to take up arms and power it down the cool waters.

Options in paddling or pushing are given with either a small paddle or a long bamboo pole. I choose the pole, thinking that I have more advantage standing up and using my body weight to push the raft.

At 9am, the whistle to kick off the competition goes off. The excitement is rushing through the fluorescent life-jacket wearing rafters, most of whom smell of sun lotion and tuak (rice wine) from the night before.

At the sound of the whistle, my crew and I start our little expedition. We crash straight into some trees at the first corner!

“Hmmm ... not so bright future ahead,” I’m thinking.

I have to say it’s a lot harder than it sounds. It’s not just pushing this thing down a river.

You have to keep the raft balanced and navigate the rocks and little rapids in the water, all the while being distracted by the beautiful scenery.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Safari on a raft

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