Monday, November 7, 2011

Journey down Rajang River

Traveling by boat  down the Rajang River can be an experience of a lifetime, that is if one comes for one and only visit to one of the longest rivers in Sarawak. The journey starts in the early morning and reaches the final destination of the town of Sibu by late afternoon. It is a journey of experience, not just the physical self.

The journey is actually made of two part, the first being from upstream downward to Kapit and the second, from Kapit to Sibu. Because of the presence of  rocks which rise from the river bed, a special boat called tongkang is used for the first part of the journey. Tongkang is a boat with flat bottom boat to avoid it from running into rocks under the surface of the water.

As the sun is rising, more and more people hop onto the boat, some with produce that will be brought to the market villages or towns along the river, notably Kapit. Smaller boats are seen transporting adults and children to their destinations including schools. Kapit is the largest town along the river, and is situated midway between Nanga Merit and Sibu. From Kapit one can opt to board speed boats that will bring one to Sibu at faster speed than the tongkang.

The picture below shows a riverside settlements consisting of a modern long house along Rajang River. The rural populations are not neglected, but brought along with the development of the country.

The morning catch: From the river to the market by boat.

Turbulence: Dangerous stretch of the river, where rocks that arise from the river bed. The boatman has to be very experienced in order to be able to negotiate this rock-filed stretch especially during low tides. The flat-bottom underside of the boat reduces the risk of the boat hitting or jamming into shallow underwater rocks.

Kapit: One can get provisions and rest before continuing one's journey

Sibu: Six hours from Nanga Merit and three hours from Kapit.

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