Padas White Water Rafting
“All set!” I heard Adel shouted from the bathroom. All of us were equipped with only our bag packs with one pair of dry clothes each, except for Fatin, who brought extra, just in case. We were supposed to head down in 5 minutes, but we were still gulping down our instant coffees and sandwiches, that we bought earlier that night, while waiting for Adel to finish braiding her hair.
All of us were excited. This was our first independent trip together, minus the school trips or the trip to the Financial Park in Labuan or when we sneaked out from our dorm in secondary school. Blame the security guards who just let any car drive in and out of the gates without checking the passengers. They were lucky we were so well-behaved during our outing. Plus, we just need to complete our thesis, and a quick journey to the nearest cyber café which was a 30-minutes car ride would do the trick. The thesis, which was supposed to be presented the day after, was done only in 5-hours in front of the prehistoric computer at the cyber café. The bizarre thing was, we managed to get “The Best Science Project” award even with the last minute preparation! Thanks to the kind judges actually.
Anyway, let’s not get sidetracked by our awesomeness.
We were in Kota Kinabalu. Yay! When people heard we were going to Kota Kinabalu, they were ecstatic. Buy us souvenirs, they said. Do not forget to visit the Filipino Market, they said. Wow, is Labuan and Kota Kinabalu that far? You can just hop on the ferry to go to Kota Kinabalu, right?
We just yelled at them, “We are not going there to shop!”
Yes, you read that right. We were not going to Kota Kinabalu to shop. Weird, I know. We were going to Padas! Well, technically, Padas is still hours away from the city. Actually, it was easier and faster for us to ride the speed boat from Labuan to Menumbok, then board the bus to Beaufort, but we wanted to tour Kota Kinabalu and do some shopping there despite yelling in denial at our friends back in Labuan.
At 6:05 am, the pickup van brought us to Beaufort. Do not ask us how the ride went. The five of us were out from the minute the van took off. We were awakened by the sound of the engine stopping. Then we depart Beaufort to go to Pangi by train which takes about 1.5 to 2 hours. After a refreshing nap in the van, we opt for not sleeping, instead watching the scenery from the windows. It is not every day you get to see a train, let alone ride one when you are a Sarawakian like us. Adding the cherry on top, the train is ancient. Fatin, however, had been on trains, as she lived Kuala Lumpur before migrating to Kuching with her family. Her parents are Kelantanese, but she lived in Kuching since she was still in primary school, so she knows how to speak Sarawak language and had picked up some Iban sentences to add flourish in her words.
Upon arrival, we were given a briefing and training. There were about eight inflatable rafts lining at the riverside. We started to get nervous at the sight of it. The water flows at an alarming speed, but that was what we came here for, isn’t it?
“We are supposed to ride that? In that river?” one of the rafting participants whispered among themselves. Didie rolled her eyes as she strapped on the life-vest. What do they expect? Ride a cruise or something?
One by one the raft started to begin their journey. Then, the momentous moment came when it was our raft’s turn to set sail.
It started out okay. This was not the same when I rode the sampan from Kuching Waterfront to get to Astana. The raft only sways a little. When I say “sways a little”, that was the minimum swaying the raft do.
“Paddle!” shouted the men. Everybody knew. Even I knew then. The life jacket cannot save our lives at this point. Well, that is what I like to call over-exaggerated. We just do not want to enter the water. Even if I know how to swim, getting into the water was at the bottom of my list. They already mentioned the rocks in the shallow water might cause injury.
“Yuck! I swallowed the water!” Fatin shouted. I can only glance at her beside me as I tasted the muddy water in my mouth. All of us were holding on to the rope for our dear lives at that point.
Image credit to Sabah Tourism Board
I admit that I am not exactly an extreme sport lover, but since the rafting sounds fun, as I am a bit of a recluse myself and I barely get the opportunity to try this, I jumped at the idea immediately. I should have considered the pros and cons.
After entering the rapid with full paddle strength, we hit the large rock at the bottom. I cannot pinpoint the exact location as the raft rocks and I cannot find my bearing for a while. When I heard somebody shouted in front of me, I tried to shake off the water from my face without actually using my hands since they are pretty preoccupied with holding the ropes. After making sure that I can open my eyes without risking the water to enter my eyes, I saw that there is another rapid ahead. Then, I heard Didie muttered something similar with what I had in my mind. “When will this end?”
Image credit to Sabah Tourism Board
Before we went on this trip, we had done some research on the rapids. We knew that each rapid have their own names, probably based on the direction or the challenge the rapids present to the rowers. Although the names sound amusing, I cannot find myself to even smile at their names at the moment even though we had just laughed out loud at the names of the rapids days before. Who would have thought that Scooby Doo rapid can be so scary? But then, the enjoyable-for-kids Merry-Go-Round nearly sank us when we encounter the rapid that has the same name as the park ride, so nobody can predict anything to come.
“Full speed ahead!” we heard the guide shouted. I cannot even tell whether we were on a raft or a speed boat as the raft enters the violent rapid.
One way or another, the rest of the journey were uneventful, if you did not count the bumps here and there, or the time when the raft almost capsized.
“Well, that was fun, isn’t it?” said Step as she stepped out of the raft. We exchanged looks, and then laughed at ourselves when we saw that all of us had red eyes.
We had lunch at the café. When it was time to say goodbye to Padas, we sent one last look at the river. Hopefully we will get to experience another exciting adventure like this one in the near future.
However, we did plan to go shopping at Kota Kinabalu city tomorrow before we head back to Labuan. So, we get to experience a different kind of exhausting adventure!
If you want to experience a thrilling ride in Padas, book for your own adventure here : Padas White Water Rafting