Friday, June 5, 2009

A Cruise on the Mighty Rejang River....

When I first heard about this cruise, I was thinking to myself, must be some speedboat ride down the Rejang river, go stay in some longhouse or hotel in the small towns, chill a few days then back again. Skeptical, I know but that is how is it when you hear about these things in a small town. "Aiya, won't last one la.", " Too expensive. Why want to spend such money?"... Yep, these are the basics complaints Sibu Foo Chows will say.

But, I soon realize that this was no joke when I decided to go on a walkabout in town during the Gawai holidays and try to take some good photos. Somehow, I lack the mood to take photos ever since I got back. But, I found my subject. The "Pandaw", the Cruise which will take tourist on a tour of the Mighty Rejang river. Okay, for those who don't know, the Rejang River is the longest river in Sarawak.

Day 1: Sibu. Transfer from Sibu airport and aboard the RV Orient Pandaw in the bustling city port set close to the local markets and temples. Free time to explore the town on foot with its attractive streets of old Chinese shop houses; redolent of Malacca or Penang but without the tourists. From here the fast express boats depart for the interior.

Day 2: Kanowit. Cast off at dawn and proceed up the mighty Rajang. Morning stop to visit rattan workshops. Here the river is still wide and full of shipping. At the river station of Kanowit we visit the Brooke Raj Fort Emma, of wooden construction and amazingly surviving intact after 150 years. Explore deeper inland by long boat up the Kanowit River and voluntary jungle trek back to the Pandaw moored at Kanowit.

Day 3: Kapit. Morning walk through Kapit; the last major administrative post on the Rajang River dating from the days of the White Rajahs. Visit of the Teresang Market, full of intriguing fresh jungle products and a fascinating mixture of people. It also offers a variety of local 'kuih' (cakes), the Chinese temple and Fort Silvia, originally called Kapit Ford. In the afternoon, visit of the handicraft and tattoo museum and then continue to a traditional Longhouse. We will experience the traditional “miring” (goodwill) ceremony, taste the "tuak" (local rice wine) and will be able to witness the 'ngajat' (Iban warrior dance) and perhaps take part in it.

Day 4: The Baleh River. Just above Kapit we turn up the main tributary of the Rajang, the Batang Baleh navigable for a Pandaw for another day's sail. We will cruise through the most narrow and scenic part of the journey, through the deep jungle we will see forgotten and modern longhouse and rice fields on the hills. Logging is strictly controlled by the Sarawak government, who has a strict replanting program. We will visit a logging camp and stop overnight at Nagamujong village with its long house, school, clinic and church. We will also see loading points for coal coming from mines deep in the jungle.

Day 5: Pelagus Rapids. Return down the Baleh to rejoin the Rajang and proceed another 40 km towards the Pelagus Rapids. This section of the river is incredibly beautiful with thousands of islands, reefs and shoals. Navigation here can be difficult depending on water levels and it may be necessary to transfer to long boats to continue our journey. Full day at Pelagus resort, designed in the longhouse style, is overlooking the famous Pelagus rapids. There will be opportunity to trek in and around the resort through the primary rainforest so rich in fauna and flora, otherwise inaccessible to the casual visitors. We will take lunch at the resort and in the afternoon further possibilities to trek in the area or to relax at the resort's own swimming pool.

Day 6: Song. Cruising downstream the Rajang River and we will stop in the early morning to visit a rubber plantation. Then continue to Song, a small river station between Kanowit and Kapit. We stop here to make a boat trip up the Katibas River and the opportunity to trek part of the way back to Song. Continue downstream through evening.

Day 7: Sarikai. In the morning a quick stop at the pineapple island to get a taste of the famous Sarikai pineapple. Then continue with the boat to Sarikai. Explore the village on your own, with the possibility of visiting the mosque, market and to buy the famous pak cheng (herbal soup). Afternoon visit the Sebangkoi deer farm, and stop at a longhouse with pepper plantation.

Day 8: Thanjung Manis. We now enter the Rajang delta area with its rich agricultural life. Stop at a Malay village to visit the famous Songkat weaving workshop. It counts the royal family and Sultan of Brunei amongst their costumers.

Day 9: Sibu. Dock in Sibu early morning and disembark. Transfer to the airport for you onward journey.

So that was the iterenary. So guess how much it cost... Come on guess...
For 8 days 9 nights, this cruise will cost you, depending on their choice of the 30 cabins, between US$5,000 and US$3,255. Pricey man.... RM 10000 min for a cruise down the river. Anyone interested?? So what about the service? What will you expect? 5 star gourmet? Room service? Lets see... From their web, *click*, it is to start on July the 1st. And to think they have 1st class service lined up for the passengers to come, well, lets just say I saw it differently..

Still looking for people to work for the ship....... HAHA....

What about food?

Lets just say, I hope this poor little guy is not on the menu.

I am happy to say I will be in Sibu on the 1st of July to witness the openning or the launching of the Cruise. Rumour has it that it is fully booked for a year. Hopefully it is so. Sibu needs tourist income to help out with the economic woes.

For those who are wondering what I have been up to since I got home? Well, I am doing my industrial training in an architecture firm called "Kumpulan Design". Don't let the entrance fool you. The office I work in is very nice. The people are nice as well. Well, 1 month plus to go...

Going to enjoy every minute of it.

Think positive and everything around you will be positive.


Philip said... detailed itineraries. You should be their part time guide. By the way, there is a model shooting competition on Sunday morning, June 14 at Jubilee Park. You are welcome to join.

Aaron C. said...

model? What type of model? Chinese or local? HAHA