Sunday, 22 November 2009

..something about rafts..

..looking a the raft made them nervous..it was just a collection of about less than 20 bamboos tied together..'It's meant for speed and agility,' said Jenal, the course leader. 'Easier to navigate the rapids that we're gonna meet,' he added, as an afterthought.

'Be prepared to get wet,' was the warning as life-jackets were distributed.

They were on the last lap of a week in the jungle, learning survival skills, Orang Asli style. A week of eating tubers, shoots and sardines. Drinking from crystal clear streams. Morning dips in cool pools at the end of waterfalls that cascaded from hidden hills. Camps were invariably made of stripped bamboo, collected from clumps found in abundant in the forest. You prayed to a compass and slept to the distant shrieks of elephants - and a bonfire kept constantly a-lit by the aborigines, lest tigers come a-prowling.

But the raft looked fragile. She looked at him with a question in her eyes. He nodded and they sat on the bamboo, trying to adjust their weight so as not to get wet. Armed with a bamboo pole about 15 feet long each, Ader and Sinario were to be their navigators and, he hoped, their saviors..

On a signal, Team Alpha glided out first, to the shouts and yips from the villagers that gathered on the banks. 15 rafts snaking downstream. Looking a the pole that Sinario so deftly used to push their raft, he judged the river to be about 6 feet deep and their speed akin to a gentle stroll.

An hour out of Pasik, they relaxed, slowly taking in the scenery as they glided silently past. The canopy of trees provided shade from the morning sun. He looked at his watch. It was 10 o'clock on a June morning, 1995. They did not speak, both within their own reverie.

A cackle on the walkie-talkie strapped to his waist warned them of a rapid ten minutes ahead. They looked up, but the river turned, and they could not see the lead raft. They could hear the soft murmur of the river as it rushed, unstoppable, through rocks, boulders and stones. The rumbling gets louder as they approached. Ader who was in front, tensed and widened his stance.

The leading eight rafts having cleared the rapids were now waiting by the banks, at the pool normally found after every rapids. As they shouted encouragement, he told her to hold fast onto the side bamboo. Instinctively they positioned themselves into a squat. Ader guided with his pole and the raft moved with the flow. Sometimes it jutted out as it transverse a drop, tilted and slid down between rocks and the white water. They were now both wet and beginning to enjoy the moment. Another dip and they laughed as horn-bills flew past overhead.

At the final drop before the pool, Ader slipped. The pole could not find a grip on the smooth rock. He lost his balance. As he struggle to recover, the raft hit the rock, tilted as it scraped its slippery surface. Sinario tried to brake the raft but the push of the river was too strong. Together with the raft they plunged into the waiting pool. As the life-jacket pushed him to the surface, he vaguely saw her below him. Her jacket had broken loose and floated past. He reached out an arm, grabbed her hair and kicked to the surface.

By the time they reached Bering, their camp-site, it was dusk. As he warmed his hands by the bonfire, set up on the sand, she came and sat next to him. When she turned to speak, he could see reflections of the flames in her eyes..

She spoke softly.

'Thank you.......tatak.'








...pleasure is the flower that passes..remembrance is the fragrance that lingers...
Uncle Lee.

7 comments:

hazeleyed said...

Ass-salam PakMat
Hmm ...i wonder who is she ...the gragrance that still lingers on your mind ?

juk said...

what a great experience u had! still remember the time during the flood season in my village. my friend and i made a raft out of banana trunks.

Oldstock said...

Pak Mat,

Love this post.

Pak Zawi said...

Pakmat,
You mentioned Pasik so it must be Sungai jenera that your rafted on. Only Sungai Jenera is clear enough but I guess rampant logging upstream has made it just as bad as The Nenggiri.
Used to raft down The Nenggir but never The Jenera.

pakmat said...

hazel..
the fragrance that lingers?..like strangers in the night..a hello and a goodbye..for just a moment, our orbits touched..but like the meteors, we had our time..

juk..
salam, juk..hope you r keeping well..yes, doing the rapids with rafts is lots of fun..

Oldstock...
hmm..guess you r good at reading between the lines..:)..and sentimental like this old coot..

Pak Zawi..
Sungei Puaiyan..before it meets sg. jenera..In 1995, Sg Jenera is still clear..and rapids every ten minutes..Class 1 to Class 3.

Thank you all..Please take care all of you..jdbb..

MamaFaMi said...

Assalamualaikum Pak Mat...

Never had these kind of adventure before. Never went camping and all those kind of adventures as I am more of a homely kind of person. Haha...

pakmat said...

salam mamafami.. you should,,and its not to late..rafting is but half the fun..getting to enjoy the forest and the hills is the other..
..thanks for dropping by..only expired stuff here, :)
..and take care..