Day 8, Tue, 4 November 2014:
The last 2 days of chilling and relaxing has been a great one so far. Read up on my ‘Lazy Day in Borneo BeacHouse and Tg. Aru Beach‘ as well as exploring ‘Sabah Visit to Tg. Aru Railway‘. Today, is the start of another adventure! Woohooo! I can’t wait to share with you. It’s a mixed of an emotional and funny journey yet the adrenaline rush and thrilling experienced has got to me till today, 4 years later. Ready? Let’s go!
Here’s a short 3 mins video I’ve created to speak for the whole experience. You may also scroll down to read more as there are funny moments (click the link to go straight to the funny moment below) and when an incident (click the link to go direct to the incident below) happens.
Woke up early for my daily morning prayers and got ready as we are bound to depart to Beaufort Railway at 6.30am which will take us about 2 hrs from Borneo BeacHouse. There, we’ll meet Arie, our in charge from Borneo Wave Hunters whom Borneo BeacHouse has collaborated with, together with the rest of other groups departing from Beaufort.
I got the package that cost me RM225/pax after discount (before disc is RM240) from Borneo BeacHouse which includes transfers from our hostel in Tg. Aru to Beaufort train station and back to the hostel last 2 days for me and Essaendree, my secondary schoolmate, who just arrived Sabah yesterday afternoon. So that makes today his first adventure. He will be in Sabah for about a week to join me for the climb and since he wanted to do more activities, I’ve booked him up for this and another activity. Well, I’ll share with you soon on that.
Since I’ve signed up with Rajib, one of the Borneo BeacHouse staff, he was given the greenlight to come along and join us for the awesome rafting! That’s triple joy. And he was extremely delighted as much as I am. This is my 2nd time doing water rafting but first for Rajib and Esse. It rained for the whole of last night which is gonna make this a more thrilling ride. Why? That’s because Padas White Water Rafting is graded to be between level 3 – 4. So after any rain, the level goes up, making it abit more challenging and rough. And as the water level increases due to rain, the flow of water will speed up too. For any adventurous person, this is definitely a good news for them. Just like me. =)
Well, as brave as I am, I could feel my tummy starting to spin out of anxiety, curiosity, extreme joy and nervousness. To be honest, it’s not just the rafting that I’m looking forward to. It’s the….
Train ride! Yes! I have loved train rides since I was a child. I used to follow my god grandma back to Malacca visiting her relatives by taking the railway train. Up till now, I can remember vividly at how I used to look out the window to the view of the villages and forest with my chin resting on my hand till I fall asleep. But eversince I started school, no more train rides for me and besides, everything in Singapore started to change and progress over the years. The Tanjong Pagar railway station has been closed since 1st July 2011. I really miss those times. So having this ride means a lot to me.
2hrs later, we arrived at Beaufort Railway train, I got so excited that I wiggle out of excitement and Esse looked at me with that weird look while Rajib laughed hard and said, “You’re really happy right, Ms Lia?”
I just smiled back at him. We met Arie and he advised us to get our breakfast first while waiting to depart in about half hours time. So we had a hearty breakfast at the railway. Yup, there’s a small shop right next to the waiting area for anyone to grab a bite.
There are lots of other groups going that day and we all took turns to fill the mini cafeteria. Half hour later, we were instructed to board the train. It was an old diesel train where the door remains open, no aircon and it really looks old and antique which I really love. With that, our adventure begins…
It was at 8.30am when the train departs and I’ve got a first class seat (self-declared for I love this view) over at the back of the last carriage of the train. The door was left opened and we were free to seat anywhere we like and I was so glad that the back door was left empty for me. In fact, there was a limited number of seats in that last carriage so some of the locals sat by the side doors other than filling the inside of the train. Most of the other groups filled up the seats in the first 2 carriages infront which has more comfortable seats. The whole journey was awesome. The views consists of mostly the greens of the forest and we passed by a few villages, schools and even saw a group of construction workers and cleaners. Along the way, the train stopped twice to for the locals to alight and board.
We got down at 9.15am for a change of train in the middle of nowhere. Some of us took this opportunity to take pictures with the trains. (Who wouldn’t right?) There was a small train stop shelter with no seats and so most of us linger around the shelter including the locals.
We had to wait for about 30 mins before the other train arrives. At about 9.40am, we were all boarded and ready to get to the final stop, Rayoh Railway which is located in Tenom. This train is much better as the carriage at the back is one with seats. The journey took us about 20 mins when we finally arrives at our last stop, the start to our day. Along the way, we were given a peek on the river and as we are getting closer, the water gets more rough and I could feel my stomach churn.
Padas Water Rafting Centre was located near the train station with just a few minutes of walking from Rayoh Train Station. We were shown the place to keep our bags, get changed and sign an indemnity form before we were brought to their briefing area. The Centre was kept neat and tidy with the life vest and helmet neatly hanged and arranged onto a clothes rail. Once we’re ready with the life vest and helmets on, the instructor brief us on the safety procedure and the proper way to maneuver the raft. He did some demonstrations and even cracked up a joke that got us all laughing. He did great in letting some tense out from all of our nervous systems. He also roughly taught us the body-rafting position, where you float horizontally on the water along the rapids while hold on to your life vest.
The 3 of us were paired with another 3 guys from Denmark and Lulu, a Sabahan staff from ‘Dive Down Below’ who is in charge of a group of 10 Denmark friends who are onboard for this activity, of which the 3 guys are grouped with us while the other 7 girls are on another raft.
Our group photos before we head off to the starting point.
Heading to the starting point takes another few minutes of walking. Since there are no roads linking from the Centre to the starting point, we had to walk along the railway tracks and then head towards the river through a path while the rafts were towed on the tracks with a board.
The rafting through the muddy water of Padas River covers a distance of 9km from the 200km river which includes 7 various rapids that is bound to fill the adrenaline rush to the brim. The rapids are named in such a way that it lives up to its name like The Head Hunter, Scooby-doo, Cobra, Lambada, Washing Machine, Merry Go Round and Break Point Rapid.
The guides are seated at the back to control the raft as a whole while the 3 of us on each side will paddle according to instructions. If the guides say, “Left up” means the left side team will stop paddling to allow the right side team to maneuver. Same goes for the “Right up”. Then if he yells all up, we simply stop paddling and let the raft drift. There were times when we had to row faster to avoid getting swooshed over by a big wave and there are a few times when we were out of balanced either to the left or right but eventually, against all odds, we made it out as a team. The last photo of our guides looking at each other below, speaks for itself. Borneo Wave Hunters had assigned their photographers to kayak out along with us to take our photos. Which means they also need to go through the rapids just like we did and then take pictures of us in all those moments. Can you spot me? Yes, I’m the tiniest in the group, sitting at the 3rd row on the left.
We managed to conquer all rapids without any bad capsize. But I have to admit that the ‘Washing Machine’ and Merry Go Round Rapid’ was a no joke. We had a few moments of “Ohhhhh” and “Ahhh”. Our raft first capsized got some of us out into the water. I was one of those who is holding on strong in the raft and seeing my team mates got dunk out of it worries me but at the same time, their laughter actually makes me relaxed a little. The second capsized was where it was purposely done by our guides after completing the most challenging rapids.
This was when a funny moment happened. As soon as I was about to board the almost empty raft where there were only 3 people in there, with the help of both guides who helped to pull me up (well atleast it seems like they were helping), I was thrown over to the other side of the water like a flying fish. Yes, you read that right. They threw me over the raft to the other side and then laugh hard. Esse and Rajib who saw the whole thing has nicknamed me as the ‘Flying Woman’ and ‘Flying Fish’. If you’d like to know how it’s like, I have drawn using stickman figures to show you my experience and you can see it here – water rafting flying woman.
Don’t you find it funny? I can still smile thinking about it. I have entrusted my life in the hands of these 2 mischievous guides only to be the victim of a laughing stock. But hey, I’m cool with it. I laughed so hard that I had problem getting back to the raft as I tried to stay calm from all the laughter. Up till today, I still wonder who else in the group witnessed this funny moment.
As we flow through a calmer water, we were allowed to do body rafting. I was intrigued by the idea and so I jumped out to try along with the rest. There were other groups of rafters doing the body rafting too.
It was during this time that an incident happened when I saw a lady who was struggling by the river trying hard to keep afloat. Without much thought, I swim towards her and tried to calm her down. Then I managed to tighten her loose vest and got her to float horizontally while I drag her back to the raft. I yelled at the guides for help and they help us out. Then her group of rafters came by to get her. It was a moment I’ll never forget.
At one point, we took a little break by the river for a drink and to fuel ourselves up for the last few rapids and we had some fun time splashing in the water and taking pictures.
We did great as a team. Our teamwork is super awesome that even the guides praised us. After the break, we finished up the remaining rapids and head back to the Centre for our lunch. It was a buffet table filled with rice and noodles as well as some dish of chickens, meat, vegetables, fish and fruits. We had a great fulfilling lunch.
At the same time, the photographers were busy selecting the best photos to show us and they sold a CD filled with photos at RM150. After discussing with Esse and Rajib, we decided to share the cost with me being the main person holding the disc and I paid a bit more. The photographers showed us the photos and we are truly satisfied with it. There were about 79 photos in total and the shots are taken from different angles of 2 rapids.
You may think that it is expensive. But have you ever wonder about the skills and risk taken to get great photos of you having fun in the water? If you are in a group, splitting the cost is the best way and deciding who will be holding onto the CD will help to resolve it. I wouldn’t waste my trip. I have forgotten my GoPro which was left in the hostel and so these photos will be kept as momentos for us. You can view the photos taken by Borneo Wave Hunters in the video at the top of this post.
Saying goodbye to our guides and heading back to Beaufort was a little hard. It’s like our heart was left here. How time flies and all those fun and laughter had to come to an end. Everyone was tired but all of us was with smiles. The journey back was never the same and somehow we wished to be back again.
So the next time you come to Sabah, do consider signing up for Padas Water Rafting activity and if you prefer a lower level of rafting, go for the Kiulu Water Rafting instead. Whichever choice you picked, is sure to bring heaps of fun.
***Note: The prices indicated are based in 2014 and so far I’ve searched through the net and found that the prices remains fairly the same (2018) or may be a bit lower or just a little higher. While I took up the package from Borneo BeacHouse, the 3 Dutch guys signed up from ‘Down Below Adventures’ and Lulu was the representatives who accompanied them.
If you know of any of the Dutch who are in my photos, do direct them to this post and I hope they will love it.
Here are some of the best shots. Can you spot the tiny me in the 3rd row on the left? Have you tried water rafting before? Where did you had it and do you like it? Do talk to me in the comments below! Thank you for you time, lovelies. Till then…