Sunday, August 30, 2015

Padas White Water Rafting Experience

Somehow, I feel like blogging in 2015 is the equivalent of teenagers still liking Justin Bieber in 2015. And due to the dwindling freedom of media expression, Thumper from Bambi taught me that if I have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all.  With the current events going on, yes, I do not have anything nice to say.  See, who says Disney doesn't teach you anything but sexism.

So from this moment on, this blog will be more of a travel and lifestyle blog, or honestly, a BROG (brag blog - hah I just made that up), about anything about my awesome life that is worth making your eyes roll.

So for today's brog, it will be about my recent (well two weeks ago) experience braving the rough waters of the Padas River, right at the backyard of my home, Sabah.

Initially, we planned to go for the Kiulu White Water rafting, but after hearing people say that it is only child's play there, we decided to go where the big boys play, even though we were virgin rafters and non-swimmers.  The water level at Padas is at III-IV, in which if it reaches to V, it will be close for rafting. So like, IV is one level less than a suicide raft.

We started our journey at 6 a.m. from Kota Kinabalu, and reached Beaufort at 7.40 a.m.  10 minutes later, we boarded the "antique" train to Rayoh train station.  Why did I air quote antique (yes the "..." is an air quote)? 'Coz it's more like 'hey our train has never been upgraded and looks like a junk from the 40's, but we have tourists and stuff getting on it so let's call it 'antique', bitches love antique stuff".

At 10.45 a.m., we reached Rayoh station, and here was where we signed a waiver form (yeah, if you die rafting, they'll just leave you for the crocs), briefed on safety and changed to our rafting gear.
Then we boarded the train again to go to Pangi station, and that's where the fun was.

The thrill was of course beyond words, so check out the video below to see what I mean:

As you can see, we DID capsize.  At the strongest and longest rapid.  How did it feel? I SWEAR I THOUGHT I WAS GONNA DROWN.  Though we were under for only a few seconds, it felt like an eternity to reach our arms out of the water and to gasp for air.  Even with a life jacket, it was really hard to stay afloat as the rapid sucks you in and out of the water, wtf. Only after realising that I was able to breath albeit gurgling water at the same time, I was able to calm my tits and remembered the guide's advice to just relax and lay on my back till safety came.  And yes, I was rescued by another raft 'coz my raft was already far far away in another realm (ok that was an exaggeration).  In fact, we were all separated and some were rescued by different rafts as well.  Somehow when we regrouped and began our next rapid, we were no longer afraid of the water and we're like, Padas, bring it on bitch. But only one of us went for the body rafting - a suicide swim in the rapids.

An hour and a half later, we emerged from the rough waters feeling like m'fukin' heroes.

So after our little adventure, we got back to the tour operator's station, showered and had lunch.

Then we boarded the train back to Beaufort, then to KK again, reliving the thrill over and over again in our heads on how awesome it was, while being thankful that we made it out alive.

Now that I sorta made you want to try it someday, here are some tips and details!

1. Clothes - Anything that you are comfortable in swimming.  Website guides state that you must wear strapped sandals, but when we got on the raft, we were told to remove it anyway so, if you go there in combat boots or stripper heels, no one's gonna stop you.

2. Food - You only need to buy your own breakfast and eat on the train.  A simple buffet lunch awaits you after the rafting. Simple as in fried rice, fried noodles, chicken wings etc.  Don't expect a salad bar.  Soft drinks and beer are sold though.

3. Valuables - You can keep your valuables (cash and phones) and change of clothes at the tour operator's station.  You have no choice but to trust them as you can't possible bring your belongings on the raft.

4. Photographs - There will be a photographer to capture your finer (and not so fine) moments, at a cost of RM150 per raft.  You can split the cost with your raftmates, with the ones who are in most of the photos to pay more, and the ones barely there to pay less to be fair. To be in ALL the photos, be the little bitch that you are and seat in front.  Of course, you need to know how to swim in order to get that spot.

5. Videos - There was no videographer during our session, but I mounted my SJCAM (the cheapskate verson of GOPRO) on my helmet.  To ensure everyone gets to be in the video, we took turns wearing the action-cam mounted helmet.  Initially we wanted the guide to wear it, but for legal reasons, they are not allowed to hold clients' property.  Of course, it is risky to mount it on your helmet as it may fall off, and yes, mine was on the brink of falling off when we went under, so it's a risk to take to be able to get awesome shots.

6. Maneuvering/capsizing - The guides will do the maneuvering, you just have to paddle.  There's a possibility of capsizing, intentionally or unintentionally, so just wait for that shit to happen and stay calm (after freaking out for a few seconds with your life flashing by in your head). And you should capsize, if you don't, you will never experience Padas' great rapids.  That's the whole point of rafting.

7. Non-swimmers/fear of water/wear contacts - This is exactly me, but if you are a true thrill seeker and adrenaline junkie, this will not be a problem.  It will be exhilarating bouncing on the rapids , and when you hit the water, you will be scared shitless, but once you are out of the water, that's when your adrenaline comes rushing.

Tour operator: Borneo Ultimate Sports Adventure Tours
Price: MYR200 per pax (2-3 pax), MYR180 per pax (4-7 pax), MYR170 per pax (8-10 pax), MYR160 per pax (11 pax above) [inclusive of transport and lunch]

Would I do it again? Hell to the yes.