Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sabah is just truly amazing

Recently, I joined my sister’s family and their friends from Kudat traveling and sight-seeing around west-coast Sabah from Papar, Beaufort, Menumbok, Labuan then to Kuala Penyu. It’s very exciting for me that this is my chance to take as many pictures as I want of Sabah beautiful landscapes and share it all in my blog.

But, unfortunately, after nearly 100 pictures taken by my travel buddy, Nikon Coolpix 11, all those pictures just gone with the wind. Dammit! My sd card brings all my pictures down to the grave with him. I can’t remember how many times I cursed my sd card and threaten to throw him into the South Chinese Sea. Still, I keep it and hope that later when I connect him to my PC, I will be able to retreat back my pictures. But then, he’s totally dead and gone forever. I have learned my mistake in such a way that I will always remember that for the next trip, I will make sure that I have extra batteries, extra sd card and extra heart, just in case I get heart attack which I nearly have because of the stupid Nikon pro sd card. And after this…I will buy the most expensive sd card ever invented…*#s@h%it!

Thanks to my travel buddy, I’ve managed to take 2 beautiful landscape pictures, by storing them in my internal buddy’s memory. Thanks again buddy! Sadly, I can’t take much because of the limited space. At least better than nothing!

The jetty at Pantai Sawangan, Kuala Penyu

Good news for ‘kaki pancing’! Fishing is allowed at the jetty. When we arrive there at nearly 6 p.m., a few peoples already busy fishing. We also join them but we only managed to catch one small crab and few small fishes which ended in our dinner plate that evening. They said all those big, nicest, juiciest fishes already went to sleep. I don’t know that fish also need to sleep. I wonder if they need to take bath also!

Our main course for the dinner that evening is Sago*, the famous food among the locals there. The Sago to them is like the rice to us.

How to prepare the Sago?

  1. The form of the Sago is in white powder when you buy from the market.
  2. Mix the white powder with boil water in a basin.
  3. Use a wood spoon to mix it properly and you have to mix it without stopping until it becomes like the sticky transparent chewing gum.
  4. Ready to eat. It is recommended that we leave to the experts in Sago to prepare it because it’s not so easy to prepare it. One mistake, all would end in the dustbin.

How to eat it?

  1. Use a not so long stick of wood or a chopstick to roll and roll the Sago with your stick until it becomes like the big ball of chewing gums.
  2. Dip it inside a fish soup or any soup that has been prepared before. Fish soup is recommended.
  3. Directly swallow it as fast as you can. Do not chew it because it will stick to your teeth and later you will have problem opening your mouth.
  4. Feel the Sago ball going down your esophagus. It feels great!


It is advisable for the beginner to make the ball of Sago smaller as you can. I’ve nearly chocked when I eat the Sago for the first time. Because I’m so selfish, I want to make the biggest Sago ball ever. But I don’t know how to swallow it. It’s just stick to my throat. I have to drink lots of water to push it down. My sister’s family and their friends all laughing in the floor when they saw my panicking face. ‘Serve you right!’ they said! ‘Itula godoat*

Sago* = locally known as ambuyat

Godoat* = eat selfishly

Besides fishing, Pantai Sawangan is a place to sit, relax and enjoy the beautiful sunset and the view of the Pulau Tiga from afar. At night, you can see the glittering light comes from the Borneo Survivor Resort at Pulau Tiga.

Sunset view at Pantai Sawangan, Kuala Penyu

As a souvenir from the whole trip, I have few jelly fish* stings on my body for being so eager to jump into the water at the Pantai Sawangan beautiful white sandy beach. My body has been itchy for a few days. For revenge, we catch those transparent jelly fish, cut off his stinging legs, cleaned him and eat him raw mix with lime juice and chopped garlic. Luckily, it comes from the family of non-dangerous species. If not, now borneo trekker would be just part of the blogger history. Still, the jelly fish is delicious! Till finger lickin good!

Jelly fish* = locally known as balung

Jomla cuti-cuti Sabah! Next destination probably…Pulau Tiga! :)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

White Water Rafting ~ Padas River

I’m still alive and healthy with few bruises and nearly minor heart attack. My stupidity this time has granted me with unforgettable life and death experience that makes me appreciate my life even more. Thanks to my colleagues who have forced asked me to join them on this trip. If not for you guys, I will not have the chance to boost around on how I survive the grade II-IV Padas river.

It all start with 12 brave survivors boarded the Busat van from Kota Kinabalu and transit at the Beaufort train station to board an old British colonial steam train named Thomas. His railway track is just along the Padas river.

Thomas loves to sing ‘tut! tut!. Every time passengers went down from the train or whenever he’s reach a sharp corner on the railway track or when he saw some car crossing his track….he will sing tut!tut! While singing, Thomas likes to rock n roll his body also. He thought he’s the apprentice of the late Elvis Presley. Hopefully Thomas would not overdo it, or else we will be thrown away from the track and go straight into the Padas river where all the starving mr and mrs Crocs are waiting. aumh! aumh! We hunger for Kentucky fried human! Nyam..nyam!

But still, Thomas is the hero for the locals as he helps them connecting to the outside world. He carry everything in him from human to local goods, from machine to animal, from autobots to megatron. If not for Thomas, I will not have the chance to board the noisiest, smelly, fully-packed train ever found. If not for Thomas, the journey to Padas is just normal. Thanks a lot Thomas!

AL's girlfriend doing the Dunhill cigar advertisement!

The railway track is just along the bank of the Padas river. All the way you can see the Padas flowing freely matches with scenic splendours of Borneo's pristine jungles. Only in Sabah you can find such a splendid view.

We stopped at the Rayoh station, the ending point for the rafting, to drop our belongings and change clothes before boarded Thomas again to reach the starting point, Pangi station. It is advisable to wear your swimming costume upon departure from Kota Kinabalu, as there will be not enough time for you to get changed properly.

Picture grabbed from Irene.

Along the way to Pangi, you can see the upcoming challenge that you will face later. And I was praying to god…’please god! keep me safe & sound as I’m still young in heart and haven’t completed my Borneo trekking mission’. For once, marriage also crossed my mind….hohoho!

Picture grabbed from Irene.

We start rafting around 1 p.m. Before that, safety briefing is done by Mr. Arkin from Busat. He’s making jokes during the briefing but I don’t have mood to laugh as I feels butterflies in my stomach already and I’m so tempted to walk back to Rayoh rather than rafting in the river. I forced myself to concentrate on his every word as this is very important especially for me as the beginner in this thing. But I would not miss for the world for his cute smile that makes him so like The Rock. Well muscled like The Rock also. Hehehe! I just need to distract my mind from the river bah!

Complimentary from The Rock!

My team is consists of jenny, johnny, janneth, amar, al and agnes (3J3A) and we have The Rock as our guide. Hmmm…the luck is on my side! Hahaha! We are on the last boat to depart and we have to stop at the Shell Station to pump some air into our boat. The boat is punctured everywhere. Hopefully later we are not going to puncture too.

Picture grabbed from Irene.

There are 7 rapids altogether that we meet along the way. These rapids carry amusing names such as Merry-Go-Round Rapid, Break Point Rapid, Scooby Doo Rapid, Cobra Rapid, Curve Rapid, Lambada Rapid and Head Hunter Rapid. Each rapid will give you the feel of the motion as what the name means. When we meet Head Hunter, she pushed Jenny & Janneth to my side that nearly caused me to be thrown into the water but luckily I already glue my buttocks to the boat with ‘gam gajah’. Our boat is like going zig-zag most of the journey as we have one captain only at the back to control the wheel and we were likes paddling anywhere we like. No rules! So free! Actually when we so tired paddling, we intend to sleep and snored…:-P

We also go round and round like Merry-Go-Round. I think I’m paddling in the air not in the water. Maybe I hope the boat will fly like the flying carpet in the Aladdin rather than touching the scary river. The Rock have to paddle right, paddle left, turn by turn, like he’s dancing Tango…left! left! right! right! The Rock started to sing ‘sayang-sayang gunung Kinabalu’ and ‘we are the champion of the world’. We all also start to sing with him. It helps in reducing our nervousness of course….but when we meet the Cobra, all hells get loose!

The Cobra…

Before we meet the Cobra, the Rock already warned us that she’s quite cruel. So we all preparing already to meet her….then suddenly we saw her…standing there arrogantly, almost tall like my Beverly Hills apartment. I just stared at her, my mouth open wide and my paddle stand still…..then I feel being thrown backward with full speed 70 km/j into the water and being pushed down by the current. At the same time I heard the sound like blurp!blurp!. Most of my body holes already drink the teh ice river and it tastes just like low sugar teh ice plus a bit of coffee tenom. My boat is a traitor…just now i’m on the top of him, now he’s on the top of me. Damn! At first I’m struggling around then I decided to surrender, just lay my back, closed my eyes and feel my way peacefully to the other world. Suddenly I feel a very bright light on my face. I have successfully entered heaven. Yahoo! I’m such a nice person after all. Then I heard someone asked me to hold to the paddle. I’m so pissed off man! I’m dead already and still I have to paddle. Damn! Then I opened my eyes and saw The Rock! Is he dead also?! He’s not so strong after all. No wonder our boat is capsized. Isk! isk!….then I saw Jenny, the jungle, the river and few people floating around and the other boats. It’s quite impossible that the Cobra killed everyone…

Then the reality hits me like….I’m still ALIVE! I’m still in this world! Cobra just ‘gotcha’ me man!

So I and jenny hold to the paddle and The Rock pulled us to the boat and asked us to hold to the rope at the side of the boat first as he want to save the rest first. I heard janneth looking for me, she keep calling my name from the boat. She didn’t see me holding the rope at the side of the boat. That time I feel so honour and so touched that I have janneth as one of my friend. At least there is someone who realizes that I’m missing. I nearly shed my tears but I have to maintain my macho ness! I answer back to her! She pulled me and Jenny back inside into the boat. Amar and Johnny are missing. I’m very sure that they are already being saved by the other boats. We saved 3 peoples from the other boat who are floating near us. I saw the Rock rushing around to save everybody by using paddle only. He lost the safety rope which he should tie earlier to the boat but instead he tied his ‘selipar jepun’. Doink! His slipper is more important than the safety rope! If were not that we still need him for the rest of the journey, I have already sms the Crocs and asked them to eat him alive. We lost mostly of our paddles. Thank goodness my specs still intake which I tied tightly to my ears before the rafting. Thanks to Ani for introducing me to the hair band which is good and strong enough to hold my specs.

We try to go back to the current again but our boat stuck at the rocks. We have quite tough time to push back our boat into the current. Everyone have to go down to push the boat back to the current. This time bcoz we have more people in our boat, I have the chance to sit in the middle and I don’t have to paddle…so relaxed man! But then it’s just for a while only. After the next rapid, we meet with the other boat at the river bank who have saved our guys, Amar & Johnny! We are so happy and relieved to see them again! The 3 peoples that we saved before went back to their boat. And we are back to 7 peoples. And I’m back to paddling. I can feel that my arms are getting all muscled and sexier…no wonder all those river guides have nice-muscled arms and shoulder just bcoz they paddling everyday. As conclusion, Padas provided free gym exercise!

Amar’s left leg kissed the river rock in the Cobra rapid and it has injured his leg. I have to sit in the front row with Johnny. I keep reassured myself that this is the chance to become a hero and sacrifice myself for the next rapid. If you sit in front row, it’s very difficult to hold into your position even if you wear ‘gam gajah’. It didn’t work out for the Cobra rapid though. Become so selfish and so unprofessional of me, every time I saw a high rapid, I just stop paddling and hold to the rope of the boat even I heard janneth and the Rock keep shouting from the back ‘paddle!paddle! stronger!stronger! I don’t give a damn…even you guys want to throw me into the jail or hang me for not paddling, I don’t care! I don’t want to drink teh ice anymore. I want Starbucks coffee! I’m still young…I want to stay alive…I still want to search for the man of my dream, not to meet those Crocs in the river.

Then we meet the famous Washing Machine rapid which I heard the rumour before, that she’s also cruel like the Cobra. But the Rock didn’t bring us to kiss her. Why? Bcoz he only has his ‘selipar jepun’ and paddle to save us if we capsized again. Doink!

We paddle to the safer route. I saw the washing machine. My goodness! It really looks like washing machine as there is big hole in there and the current goes round and round. It reminds me of the new Panasonic Aquabeat washing machine. Maybe they got their idea from here. If we go kiss her, we have to kiss goodbye to our clothes being washed there and return back to the boat, naked! Which is not so good to us ladies and so lucky for the guys. Free show! If I have a great body shape like Beyonce, then I don’t mind. As long as I’m safe and sound. Of course no pictures please! If not, I will find myself in front of the Playboy magazine Sabah’s version! Aramai tii!

Even better, we return to the other world and meet Altantuya. Then we can ask her, who killed her actually.

The rest of the rapids just have minor wave only. None like the Cobra and the Washing Machine. We are the last boat to arrive at the ending point (3.15 p.m.) and we have only half an hour to take bath, change clothes and eat BBQ lunch buffet river style. I just took simple quick shower bath, change clothes and eats like hungry crocs, even though I just drink nearly 1500 ml of teh ice Padas river.

I saw lamb chop, chicken wing roasted, garlic RICE, baked sosej, coco-cola…the foods just healed my river trauma! I just eat, eat, eat, eat……eat again, non-stop until I think I can float in the river without the life jacket already.

Picture grabbed from Irene.

Salute to the Busat, they can provide all these delicious foods in the middle of nowhere. Salute to the Chef who cooks all these foods better than all the hotel chefs back at Kota Kinabalu.

During filling our energy with foods, we exchange story with the other team…chin yit, david, wendy, irene, hooi theng and yati. Their boat capsized at the Washing Machine. Miraculously, their clothes are still attached! I think the washing machine need to be sent to the service already! We all very exciting in exchanging our story of life and death experience to each other.

Cute and chubby like The Pooh! (Picture grabbed from Irene)

Then we heard Thomas calling us already….as usual …tut!tut! Once back to the train, all seats are fully occupied already. So we just sit on the train steps. Some of us just stand. I managed to sit on the train steps with hooi theng and chin yit.

Si Buntut!

We chit chat non-stop along the way back to Beaufort and I’m so happy sitting there as I can have the full view of the magnificent Padas river and the magnificent jungle of Tenom & Beaufort. With the sun shinning straight to my face, it’s a comfort feel after the horrified yet exciting, thrilling experience of water rafting.

Saying goodbye to the Padas River…I’ll promise to come again next year and this time I will meet the challenge of every rapid without any fear, without any doubt…but only with a sense of adventure of a borneo trekker lass.

Bravo everyone!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

tips on water rafting

One (1) more day to meet the challenge of the highty mighty level 4 padas river (maybe reach level 5 already bcoz of the unstoppable rain)...i hope not! :(

Some tips that I received from my friends who went there recently:

1. Life jacket must be wear tightly as to prevent it from expanding too much and blocking your view when you in the water and easy for the guide to pull you from the water (of course for non-swimmer only). If it's loose, goodbye to you and hope to see you at the ending point.

2. Helmet must be stick to your head like glues if you still loves your brains.

3. Camera can be bring until the starting point. The guide will keep the camera inside a waterproof bag before the rafting start. Bring at your own risk! SLR not advisable! Expensive wohhh!

4. Always smile during the rafting as there are many hidden camera everywhere, even though you are so scary until you pissed in your pants which is fine bcoz there are water everywhere and should have the same colour with your natural water.

5. Bring 'gam gajah', better 'gam dinosour', for you to glues your buttocks to the boat so that you won't fell into the water which i intend to do. (for non-swimmer only)

6. Don't wear sun block if you want to look like Beyonce Knowles.

7. Lastly, write a will before you go.

Hopefully all these tips that I proudly share with you guys and girls can help you a lot in surviving the water rafting trip. If anybody out there have their own tips to share, you are welcome to do so.

cayo! cayo!

tutup mata saja la!

Two (2) more days to Padas River Water Rafting...and now it's raining cats & dogs monsoon! Damn! My first time water rafting have to be like this...

Weather = 20%
Swimming skill = 5%
Experience = 0%
Confidence = 80%
Courage = 100%
Stupidity = 101% - confirmed!

And worst, my two colleagues having this conversation today:

YATI: kalau cuaca sekarang nie macamana la mau pegi water rafting?
AL: kalau cuaca macam nie, tutup mata saja la..(maksudnya...faham-faham la sendiri!)
YATI: kurang asam!

courage my friends! courage! *&#@% shittttt!