Saturday, January 03, 2009

Pleasant encounter with an ‘old friend’ in Sarawak

As some of you know, I was holidaying in Kuching last week with my family. Don’t worry – I am not going to bore you with details of my holidays (… well maybe just a bit). After all, the places that we went to wouldn’t interest the majority of Singaporeans; such as the limestone caves (Wind Cave and Fairy Cave) of Bau, wild pitcher plant forests of Matang, wet market of Jalan Satok etc. although we did visit the popular Damai Beach and its nearby Sarawak Cultural Village.

But my own favourite part of this trip was the river ‘kayaking adventure’ organized by Francis Ho’s Kuching Kayak Sdn Bhd. Unfortunately, Francis was not able to join us. However we did get to meet up in the evening for a drink at a very interesting joint called the Car Wash.

It was at the starting point of our kayaking ‘adventure’ at a place called Kampung Bengoh, that I met an old friend that I have not seen close up for exactly 30 years. Here is a photo of the two of us, as well as one taken in 1977 in Gillman Camp.

Yes, I am referring to the Bailey Bridge that the combat engineers of my days used to construct. The BB is a World War II relic that our SAF no longer used. Because it is a semi-permanent bridge, you can actually find it in rural parts of Malaysia. This one was built over the Sugei Abang which was a tributary leading to Sungei Sarawak Kiri. During our trip, we stopped at a waterfall, a nice sandy beach at a sharp bend in the river, and a village called Kampung Danu. Our trip ended in Kampung Semadang in Borneo Highlands.

Although I have been fetching my son from his kayaking training sessions and regularly attending his competitions for the past 6 years, I have never actually rowed a kayak before. I was quite worried that my stiff back would not be able to take the journey. Fortunately our guide came equipped with a sort of back rest which was ingeniously designed to be strapped to the kayak. Although it did not give a very firm support, it at least enabled me to complete the journey with only some discomfort. However, I have to confess that my guide, a gentleman by the name of Azmi did most of the rowing. I had to stop after every 20 strokes or so to ease the pressure on my spine. My guilt was somewhat lessened by the knowledge that Azmi was an accomplished kayaker who took part in the gruelling Labuan Round Island Kayaking Challenge. I learned later from Francis that he was the kayaking champion of Sarawak!

Anyway, at one point I asked him to stop and let me row alone just to find out how difficult it was. It was actually quite easy mainly because we were rowing downstream and the recent rains had made the water flow quite swift. But unfortunately, the high water level caused us to miss the rapids because the rocks were well below the surface of the water. On the way, we passed some beautiful giant rocks as well as steep limestone mountains.

Below are some photos of our memorable trip down a Sarawak river.

This hanging bridge traverses the Sungei Sarawak Kiri at a village called Kampung Danu where we came face-to-face for the first time with hill padi. Also saw many interesting fruit trees like those we used to have in our kampong.

Pardon the poor quality of this photo. The battery of our camera was exhausted and we took this one with a mobile phone wrapped in protective plastic. Due to the high level of the water, we could not go all the way below this rock.


Victor said...

Looks like the whole family had great fun.

yg said...

so, it was family bonding time in kuching. for someone who had no experience in canoeing or kayaking, it was very brave of you to take the 'plunge' down the sarawak river. i notice you were the only one in the party who did not secure your life vest properly while in the kayak. why? they don't have (life vest) your size?
i am thinking of making a trip to kuching. aside from kayaking, what other things to do there?

Zen said...

Doing something quite different to break the montony of city life. Lucky to meet a friend made thirty years ago. Without this trip you may lose the opportunity of meeting him again.

Unknown said...

Sure looks like fun and its great that you are bringing your family along to outdoor adventures. I like the way you superimpose the photo of your training days with what the bridge is like currently.

Lam Chun See said...

YG. You are very sharp indeed. I guess those are things that an experienced physical instructor notices immediately.

The privious wearer of the life vest must be very thin (not me fat ok!) and my son told me it is very difficult to adjust and so I got lazy. I guess I am showing a bad example to my children - I always nag my youngest for not belting up in the car, and to my readers. My apologies.

Actually I am usually very careful about such things.

Lam Chun See said...

I wonder if Zen has been speed-reading and misunderstood me (or maybe I misunderstood his comment). The 'old friend' refers to the Bailey Bridge. I only met Francis Ho in person for the first time. This is another example of the fun of blogging. Getting to know new friends even before you see them face to face; eg. John Harper, Victor, Unck Dicko etc.

Zen said...

Chun See - I guess age and cataract are catching up with me, hence losing my concentration, resulting in misinterpretion of your narration.

Anonymous said...

Lam Chun See - It was a real pleasure to have met you and we're glad that you and your family enjoyed the kayaking.

There're another two "old friends" at Bau, the other place where we run our kayaking trips. Perhaps next time!

Anonymous said...

Nice article.

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