- Rafting Sungai Padas, which means river in malay, seem to take up an entire chapter *turn on spotlight*. Imagine riding on an antique train and even trying out the VIP seating on the roofless and wall-less cart. That’s sunbathing ala-SPEED style *striking a pose*. So make sure you’re holding onto something or you slip right off the train and straight into the river *screaming sound effects go here*.
You also get to meet the Pirates of Padas, if guessing who is which character, doesn’t give you a stomach ache, then wait for the safety briefing cum comedy act with its warnings against strange bananas and crocodiles that are on a-single-person-only-diet. Thanks to the guides and their spiels *giggling builds up into laughter *. It should be a trip highlight believe me, just make sure the shirts read RIVERBUG in bright colors, otherwise I can’t guarantee the same memory *snickers*. After some intense stomach exercise from not trying to laugh out too loud they ask you to go and meet your guides. Luckily, or is unfortunately, we still got Kuya Mors *flashes out a peace sign to Mors*.
Then it was time to brave the 7 rapids of the Padas River *there was a glint of fear in my eyes*. An angel on my shoulder was trying to console me by reminding me that I had survived Padas last January, I just had to do it again. But…no one can ever tell right? So I surrendered control to the 2 rafting experts seated behind me *gulps*. I looked at my friend Kai and she seems to be eager to do it and so off we went. A couple of wooohooooooos, yipeeees and shouts of paddle hard in between one of our rafting guides decided to be creative. There was Kai, with a sense of pride that she had managed not to fall off the boat, felt a grab on vest and then with a forceful thump on the raft, she and our guide went overboard. That memory will be embedded in my mind, and part of every recollection of the Padas experience *snickers*. Looking at the surprise on her face, I jumped into the water voluntarily, the water felt cool on our sun-warmed skin *relief*.
Next challenge was getting back on to the raft. I listened to the safety briefing, it sounded simple, why then were my arms aching and my chin barely reaching the raft *waaaaaaaaaaaaah*. Then out of no where *enter music* muscled riverboys held onto my vest and with a swoosh pulled up all (secret) pounds of me *ahhh relief once again*. So…after some rolling over and wiggling, Kai and I try to gain back whatever was left of our composure, gulped and psyched ourselves for the last few sets of brown whirling water.
Next thing we knew, we had passed Cobra Point, Lambada and the Washing Machine Rapids and met the much calmer personality of the river. It was a time when you can look around, appreciate the nature of the gorge and listen to Kuya Mors go on about how he loved KFC friend chicken, grilled chicken and chicken wings of all sizes *chuckles at the thought of that moment*. We were approaching the end point and were headed to the promise of chicken wings and grilled lamb *grumble, rumble goes my stomach*! Ahhh buffet lunch- the best reward for our so-called bravery *snickers*.
Now that I am down to my last paragraph of recounting our tale that transpired between Beaufort, Rayoh, Pangi and back to Kota Kinabalu. I find myself staring at the screen while mental portraits transition in front of me. Some things should not be left as mere tales or stories or kwentos. THEY NEED TO BE EXPERIENCED! It’s time you, yes you Mr. or Ms. Reader become the rider of the train and the bold souls that would take up the oars and brave the rapids of Padas River. Then you come back and tell us how it was for you.
To the team that made sure I could still tell my tale *shouts, yes I am alive!*- Riverbug Riverboys and those behind the frosted glass of Wisma Sabah- thank you for being part of the journeys of this Wandering Wonderer.