KUCHING: Just mention rafting and most people will imagine a group of people in an inflatable rubber raft bouncing over the rapids and cruising along fast rivers.
These days the rubber rafts are often associated with extreme sports, unlike their traditional counterparts made from logs or bamboo tied together and used as a water transport mode.
The traditional raft is steered along the river using a long pole.
When the water is deep an oar is used to navigate the raft.
Unfortunately, the traditional rafts have been replaced by boats and inflatable rubber rafts.
In Sarawak, however, traditional rafts are remembered annually with the Padawan Raft Safari (PRS) competition, which is into its 11th series this year.
The PRS is an annual traditional raft competition organised by the Padawan Municipal Council (MDP) since 2005.
With Sungai Padawan as the venue for the event, participants contested in various categories namely Expert, Men’s, Women’s, and Tourism.
This year the competition witnessed the highest number of participants, with 144 teams, 22 more than the number of teams in 2014.
PRS organising chairman Edward Kurik said meticulous preparation was carried out by the MDP with the cooperation of agencies such as the police, Rela and Sarawak River Board to ensure the smooth flow and safety of the participants.
Upon arriving in Kampung Timurang where the 26km Men’s category race began, the writer was amazed to see the number of participants that had gathered and how well the event was conducted.
Only the participants who have their life jackets on were allowed to inspect and collect their raft left at the riverbank a day before the competition.
The participant felt excited, with some teams seen on the premises as early as 6am for the race scheduled to start at 8am.
The two types of rafts that could be used in the competition were those made from logs or bamboos. Most of the teams wore a uniform and decorated their rafts to make them stand out.
Continue reading at: The Padawan Raft Safari, a rafting event not to be missed.