Sabah #4: White Water Rafting

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December 31st 2015
Published: February 25th 2016
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We were up so early this morning, 5 am! We quickly dressed and headed down to meet our pick-up. We were picked up around 5:40 and we stopped only once to pick up another couple. We drove for a couple of hours with a quick toilet break. We arrived at Beaufort Station and headed into the little restaurant there. I was starving by this point, so I got some breakfast. There was a little buffet set up so I went and got some noodles, curry puffs, and a chicken sausage. It was dirt cheap, only a few ringgit and we also got a couple of tea tariks. A good, filling meal to set me up for the rafting later. We got talking to the couple, who were on the trip with us, they were really nice. Our train was due to depart at 7:50 am, so we headed out to the train around 7:45 am. The train was very rustic and quite busy. We managed to get a set of seats together. The train left the station and we headed into the jungle. The train ride was pretty unique, and I have never experienced anything like it before. We stopped at these tiny little stations along the way. They were so small, just a bench covered with a sheet of corrugated iron wrapped around it to form a roof and a wall. The stations really did look like they were in the middle of nowhere, most of them were surrounded in vegetation. I watched as people followed a trail, I couldn't see, up hills and then disappear into the jungle. I wish that I had more time to explore this area and/or do some kind of homestay.

We had to change trains at one point on the journey. I don't know the name of the station. We had about 5-10 minutes between trains, so we were able to use the bathroom there. We continued on our journey, on the new train and got off at Rayoh. This is where we would be ending our rafting trip, so we had about twenty minutes here to change and we had to leave all our stuff here. Then it was back on the train for the final part of the journey. I wonder if the train has always took a break here, or if it has been added to accommodate the rafters. Guess I will never know. We got off the train at Pangi and were shown to a nice shaded area for some water and watermelon. There was another couple of groups there. I was glad our group was so small, there were only four of us plus our guide, driver, and raft guide. The other groups had big rafts with lots of people. Ours was much smaller, hopefully this would make it more exciting. We were given a safety briefing, and then we headed down to the Padas River with our raft. It was a short walk away.

We got into our raft and set off down the Padas River. There are two white water rafting locations in Sabah and this one is grade III - IV, the other one being a bit tamer. We were on the river for about two hours, and just like last time I did rafting, it went past in the blink of an eye. I think that the course is about ten kilometres long. Although the Padas River is grade III - IV, there hasn't been much rain, so it was a bit tamer than it should have been. I had some much fun when we were rafting. There were, I think, eight or ten rapids and they all had funny names like 'Washing Machine' and 'Cobra'. I managed to cling on for all the rapids, just. But some of the others went overboard. I thought that we had lost my friend at one point, but she reappeared, she had been hidden by the boat. We were able to get out on a calm stretch of water and have a float and swim. That was really nice. We saw a few locals going about their daily business, fishing in the river. I think they said that there were crocodiles in the area, but they are only small ones, and won't harm you, I hope. The jungle looked gorgeous. Our guide explained to us that what we could see was the second generation of the jungle. The original jungle had been wiped out by the tsunami. One sad point was that we saw quite a bit of rubbish lying around. People, our group included, brought their bottles of water and when the rafts were flooded or capsized the bottles went overboard. I wish that the guides had told us to put them in the bag where we kept our shoes. It would be a simple solution to the problem. Once we had finished all the rapids, we could get out and swim down to the endpoint. What a prefect end to our rafting, the scenery was stunning as we floated by.

We had rafted all the way down the river to our lunch spot at Rayoh. We left our helmets and life vests with the guys in charge and headed to the restaurant/house, where we had deposited our stuff earlier. The showers were already on and although they were cold, it was good to strip off our wet clothes, rinse off and put our dry stuff on. We made use of the fences surrounding the house to hang our clothes and swimsuits out to dry. Lunch was ready for us. It was buffet style similar to what we had had on the river cruise. The food was okay, nothing amazing, but filling. We had noodles, veggies, hot dog sausages in sweet and sour sauce, and chicken curry. Water was included, but we had to pay extra for soft drinks, coffee, or beer. We had a little under two hours to spend there. We mainly just chilled. We did take a walk down to the train station, it was one minute away, to see the river and the surrounding peaks. The area was so beautiful, so peaceful. If I'd had more time, I would have loved to spend a couple of nights in a place like this just relaxing.

We got on the train just before two pm. It was quite empty so we managed to get some seats. We were only on this train for about half an hour again, before we were deposited back at the random station we had changed trains at earlier. It was scorching hot, the sun was beating down, so we retreated to some benches in the shade. I think we had to wait about ten minutes for our train to Beaufort to arrive. The train arrived and we got on, it was the same style of basic train. We had just gotten comfy, and were told to get off. We were taking another, much smaller train that was parked up behind ours. We ran down the platform to try and get a seat, but we were too late. I think I was the only one in our group that managed to get a seat. This train was a lot smaller, only one carriage, but a lot nicer and newer. The journey also seemed to be a lot quicker. We arrived back in Beaufort, around 4 I think. We waited while our driver brought the van round to get us. The driver back wasn't too bad. There had been a traffic accident along the way, which slowed us down a bit. Luckily the traffic on our side of the road was still moving, on the other side, however, it was at a standstill. We didn't get back to the city too late.

After a little rest, we got showered and headed out. We decided to go to Ang's Hotel for dinner. Finally, we would get to eat at this Chinese restaurant that looked so promising. As usual, it was heaving, always a good sign. We waited outside for a few minutes, waiting for some dinners to leave. This place looks a bit grotty from the outside, but we had never seen it empty, so the food must be good. We ended up sharing a table with a couple of old men. They had ordered before us and I definitely had food envy looking at the dishes that they had ordered. We had garlic prawns (which were deep fried, I wasn't expecting that), Kung Pao chicken, Taiwanese vegetables, rice, and a couple of iced teas. The food was really good, I haven't had decent Chinese, like I am used to in a while, and this definitely hit the spot.

We headed along to El Centro, which is a popular bar in Kota Kinabulu. I think maybe we got there a bit too early, as it was a bit dead. We had a cocktail and then left. I don't know, but I wasn't overly impressed with the place. We went back to the bar at our hostel and had some waffles and ice cream there. They were delicious. I also had a lemongrass juice, which was very tasty. We were so tired, but we wanted to stay up to see the new year in. We played cards and ordered some cocktails to pass the time to midnight, while dreaming of our bed. Midnight finally came, we wished the others in the bar a happy new year and headed to bed. We were in bed by about 12:15.

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