Category 4 on the ‘Thrill-o-meter’, Padas River was one dose of adrenaline to be remembered. Here’s why:
A 5:30 wake-up call ushered me through the Sabah country-side heading towards the Beaufort train station. Upon arrival, I hopped on not just any train, but a steam locomotive from 19th century Borneo… an antique piece of machinery, say what! We browsed through the rural outskirts, saw some villages and got a glimpse of the Padas River peeking through the dense jungle foliage.
It was definitely nice to get away from all the vast concrete development we surround ourselves with so much these days.
The Locomotive It is still used by locals to this very day to transport vegetables, fish or meat to the city to sell. So enter with an open mind, isn’t that what travel is all about, funky experiences!
A quick pit stop at Rayoh Station (ending point) to leave our belongings, like a dry change of clothes and things that aren’t waterproof that you wish to leave behind. This is where we will freshen up and have lunch after our rafting session.
My 1 ½ - 2 hour episode of nostalgia ended at Pangi Station, where there was some light refreshments, a safety briefing and a demo on paddling methods. The instructor did some role-play which cracked a few nervous giggles though.
After fastening our gear, helmets and life jackets, we took a short walk to the starting point where our rafts awaited us.
We had a safety canoe accompanying our rafts the whole way through, just in case we capsize and are being carried by the river far, far away from our rafts. Like I said, Padas River is no joke! And merciless at times. So hold tight will you.
After few minutes of calm, we braced ourselves for the first rapid approaching us, swooshing in every direction. Paddle forth, work those muscles and hope you don’t swallow a ton of ‘Teh-Ais’ brown water!
What’s gonna’ work? TEAMWORK!
It’s hard to keep your head straight when your raft is being swallowed and slapped by vigorous rapids. Our raft capsized twice, one on the Merry-go-round (yes, with a name like that, expect some nose-dives) and once more in the Washing Machine. They didn’t name the rapids that for nothing... Apparently.
Basically, the idea is to challenge the rapids and stay on the raft. But if you wish, you can choose to fall off voluntarily, for fun! Just kidding.
Posing for pictures along the way. It’s hard to put on a ‘pretty face’ when you’re about to get consumed by whirling waters.
We conquered (well, not really) 8 rapid points during the 90 minute rafting adventure. And for me to say ‘Adventure’ would be an understatement. It is an adrenaline pumping way to get acquainted with Sabah’s raw and may I stress on the word ‘untamed’ beauty… it’s almost parallel to being thrown into a washing machine at some parts, also like embodying a yellow rubber ducky in a bath tub during a toddler’s bath-time, splashy indeed! But fear not, like those rubber duckies, you will always stay afloat no matter how rough the water gets.
The thrill was over at Rayoh Station ( eding point ), some of us even went for a little swim, just to cool down the nerves. After getting back on land, we had a delicious lunch spread awaiting. I didn’t even bother getting changed, I dug right into my lunch and proceeded to get changed afterwards.
After the Raft Instructors showed us our horrid faces caught on camera, we got back onto that vintage locomotive train for the journey back to Beaufort Train Station where a much anticipated air-conditioned van awaited us for our transfers back to Kota KInabalu City. Most of us dozed off during the journey back.
Energy level ‘Zero’, Mission Complete, Level of Coolness for completing the challenge : through the roof!