Enduring the rapidsAs the yellow raft softly swung into the current, my oars dipped in its first swirl of water. Turning around, I saw excited faces of the 'hard' adventure sports lovers looking eager to get a taste of the river rapids at Kuala Kubu Baru. The 9km river is at Selangor River, located nearby Fraser's Hill. Penisular Malaysia has its share of good rafting sports. These include the Sungai Sungkai in Perak, Endau River, Jeram Besu and Lipis River in Pahang and the Tembeling River in Taman Negara. Earlier on at the put-in point, our raftmaster - Piee has given us importang briefing about white water rafting, showing us paddling techniques, types of rapids, currents, river signals and rigorously stressed on safety and rescue shall there be any unwanted accidents. Divided out in groups, we started paddling into the current. The sun is kind with its warm penetrating through the green leaves of the luch tropical jungle on both sides of the river. 'Paddle up!', yelled the oarsman. We bang our paddle hard on the water and growled in an exciting manner. Water was fast and high with large number of huge boulders to avoid. Moving on, we could see the foamy rapids waiting. Luring us near to it, somehow with its malicious grin. Shouting in excitement, we were in the rapids in no time. 'Left-side paddle!', shouted Dennis (one of the oarsman) - we were heading towards a hydraulic! Good gracious! The raft went out of control from the sucking hydraulic, tormenting our muscles to tighten the gribs on the safety ropes. With no warning, the raft swopped downwards. I felt the sudden drop and a bigger drip when Harry, Kar Weng and two more ladies went tumbling down on me. Pardon me, I happened to sit right in the middle! Left leg got stucked at the side while another was getting pinned by somebody, water was gushing down on me hard, freaking me for a while of the helpless position we were in. At the top of his voice, Dennis shouted - directing us to get to the right side to balance it. While waiting for the rest to struggle their way up, I hang on tight, not allowing the dreadful sucking maching to swallow me up. I felt Kar Weng grabbing my PFD (Personal Flotation Device), pulling me up next to him seconds later but the moment seems like forever. The raft got its balance back fleeing the hydraulic, to our relief. The incident didn't much spoil the fun and I told Dennis we wanted more, to his surprise! We passed through some undercuts, negotiating sharp corners. Going into a rapid felt like riding down a drain most of the time. Exhilarating! Rapids were good that day as it has been raining lately, rising the water level. What's better time to go rafting rather than the monsoon season in Malaysia? A good time to ride the rapids as the rivers swell and the currents becomes more powerful. We parked our raft at the eddy soon after for a light meal. Had a try sliding down the rocks down the chilling river, getting swept by the current in a 'cocktail' style as instructed with the legs in front, knee slightly bent and both arms opened wide like holding a wine glass in both hands. Next stop was a waterfall at the river bank. We indulged ourself there under the waterfall crunching our apple away. Piee and other oarsman were busy checking out the rapids in front, planning the route we were bound to endure. Hours has then passed since our hearty breakfast at KKB's town and the 'chute' in front will be our last thrilling and difficult rapids. A chute is where fast sluice is formed when the river is forced to pass through a narrow passage. Our raft is about 6 feet in length while the passage is only about 4 feet. Before my sense of fear strikes, we were almost reaching the chute. 'Left-side! Left-side!', yelled Dennis. As fast as the speed of light, we throwed ourself to the left to balance the raft bound to be forced through the narrow drop. Little did we know, our raft gave a sudden tilt that went beyong balance - all I could see was fierce white foaming water everywhere. Throwned out in the air like a bowling ball hitting the pins, fear inevitably overpowered me when I saw the rocks only inches from me! I landed on the fall with the raft on my head. Struggling out, I felt relieved to breathe the air and knowing I didn't get any serious injury. Someone in another raft at the further end grabbed me fast before I got swept away. Only then I realised I've got a bad bruise on my left arm swelling like the size of a ping pong ball!. The others were injured too but not as bad as one of the girl who knocked hard on the rock in her face and jaw, giving her a bruised face and a bleeding cut. Despite the accident, we continued our paddling towards the finishing line, still high-spirited. Enjoyed the fun ,the fear and most of all the heart pounding, gut wrenching rapids. Somehow, it leaves me with a really nice feeling of achievement.
Published on 11/18/02