Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 19 other subscribers


About

Sarawak river boats, rough weather and an old fort; A Trip to Long Akah

These boats are due for repairs maybe

These boats are due for repairs maybe

After the mountain top, our next ‘main’ course was an old and abandoned village called Long Akah, situated about 10 minutes by boat downstream from Long San. While many of the river boats are still hand made by the locals, they are now equipped with modern outboard engines. I cannot imagine using hand paddles when the river water level has risen significantly due to the downpour upstream.


We arrived at Long San rather late in the evening. After everyone had a good ‘makan’, it was either drinking or sleeping time. I of course chose the latter. It has been raining the whole night and this carried on to the next morning.

After breakfast, the rain was on and off. Either way, most of us in the group decided to go ahead with the program to visit Long Akah where an old fort still stands. The town in the village itself is said to be deserted.

Our mode of transportation was the local boats of course. The water level has however risen significantly. With the rain and wind, it was a cold and wet morning indeed.

The water has risen to levels as high as the tree branches

The water has risen to levels as high as the tree branches

The guides are confident that it is safe to go ahead and we were given life jackets. As everyone was busy putting on their life jackets, I noticed one of the boatman (Ngang-who is also our jungle guide) was busy bailing out water from his boat. When I later asked him, he assured me it was water from the rain and not a leak in the boat.

One of the Penan boatman bailing out water from the boat

Ngang, a Penan boatman bailing out water from his boat

According to Ngang, he hand built his own boat. But rather than use oars, the outboard engines makes traveling up and down the river much easier. Ngang is a Penan who lives in Long Bekuk.

Some of these river boats are actually hand made

Some of these river boats are actually hand made

Well, the boat is quite narrow. For a big guy like me, it is super narrow. The fact that the river was swelling that day did not help either. The narrow boat felt like it was going to tip over at any time. The strong river currents made things tougher. I sat with my feet folded inside. At times, I can feel the side of the boat pushing in as a result of the boat ‘cutting’ through the river.

It was a relief arriving at the Long Akah jetty. We actually landed straight on the land, the jetty was fully submerged.

The old abandoned fort is rather interesting. I did not think much of it until I took a closer look. According to the guides, some of the main wooden beams in the fort are made from the ever famous Iron Wood (kayu Belian). It is a really hard wood that it is purportedly the only type of hard timber which will sink when place on water.

It was raining heavily outside and I was unable to take pics there. The fort has obviously been renovated (‘re-furbished’ is probably the better term) as the roof has been changed to zink roofing. They used to be tiles made of timber! It is a double storey building, very spacious with a number of rooms around and many of us found many interesting things there.

A friend from the group actually found a stone tide to some rope. The guides weren’t sure what it is used for but he reckons it is used to help shut doors.

The rock tied to a rope found in the old Long Akah fort

The rock tied to a rope found in the old Long Akah fort

The fort is both interesting and eerie at the same time. On the upper floor, there are numerous sliding exits on the building walls. Can they be ‘quick’ escape hatches for the building occupants?

These 'escape' hatches can be found on almost every side of the wall on the upper floor

These 'escape' hatches can be found on almost every side of the wall on the upper floor

Some of the painting on the upper floor of the fort

Some of the painting on the upper floor of the fort

This old door knob is still working, just missing the key

This old door knob is still working, just missing the key

There were other sites nearby that warrant a visit but the rain was getting heavier by the minute. All wet and cold, the group decided that it is best to head back to Long San. We all hurriedly made our way back to the boats and jumped into the boats.

As we were heading upstream, it is clear that the current is much stronger than expected. One of the boatman called out to the other boats just as we were traveling upstream. His outboard engine is making a fuss and he feels that it is best that all the passenger huddle into the other two boats. After some quick shoving of bums, we were on our way upstream back to Long San.

Long Akah would have been an interesting site to visit if not because of the rain and swelling river. The rain made many of us uncomfortable and the swelling of the river means getting back will be more difficult. All in all, it was a great experience traveling in the hand made river boats though I wished we had a more pleasant weather to really explore Long Akah.


Continue reading other parts of this adventure below:



Click here to read about another rainforest adventure in Semban, Sarawak.

10 comments to Sarawak river boats, rough weather and an old fort; A Trip to Long Akah

  • James Lias

    Hi Keong,

    You really have fun there. Remember….do not wear the long pants on the boat. My father always reminded me when I was posted to the ulu area where the boat is the main transport.

  • Keong

    Hi James!
    Yeah, I heard about that advice. I was told not to wear cargo pants especially.
    Is this because if (hopefully not) you capsize, the water will fill your cargo pockets and weigh you down? Is this the reason behind it?

  • James Lias

    Maybe…
    I’ve experienced that moment many many years ago. I was wearing a cargo pants and handling the boat with 30hp engine, heavily drunk (it was a stupid act while I was young). There I was racing together with one of my drunken buddy when out of no where a medium size log appeared ahead of my boat. Next thing I knew, I was in the water struggling to swim back to the boat. I kept kicking my leg but the cargo pants is too heavy and I was lucky to be saved by drunken buddy. After I was in his boat, he laughed at me and said “That was funny”…..we managed to recover the boat and the engine and other stuffs then put it back to where it suppose to be….

    P/S The boat and the engine were not mine…I borrowed it and until now the owner doesn’t has a clue what had happened to his boat.

    Well…what can I say…

  • Keong

    Wow…I already envy your childhood days.
    Scary experience it is. Phew, now it makes sense. Thank God you guys were okay.
    Okay, ‘do not wear long trousers with cargo pants on river boat rides‘ will go on my ‘Don’t Do List’ now :)
    Thanks mate!

  • Kenny Ho

    Interesting…makes a lot of sense about the pockets filling up with water when you are in the water.

    However, in military training and water survival, the long pants (military pants with the big pockets included) is an imporatnt survival item. When one falls into the water and has to be in the water for some time, his long pants can be turned into a floatation device which will likely save his life.

    Each time we need to travel across big bodies of water in whatever types of watercrafts, we just need to ensure that our boots are loosen enough so that we could quickly dump them in case of a water emergency. Especially helpful if there are no life jackets. Having said that, it is always safer to wear a life jacket whenever one is on the water.

  • Keong

    Hi Kenny!
    I too find cargo pants very useful. Especially to store items that I need to be close to me at all times. Never know when things can go difficult.
    Yes, I have seen videos on Youtube about using pants for emergency flotation. And you are right, myself will never go into a boat or any other watercraft without a life jacket unless it is a ferry!
    Thanks for your comments!

  • bzfishing

    i almost drowned because of cargo type pants and army boots. it got too heavy in the water and i was struggling to stay afloat. i touched bottom and with all the murky water i think i’m gonna be dead luckily my friend saved my life. i must have drank a few liters of muddy waters. lesson learned!

  • Keong

    hi there bzfishing! Thank you for sharing your experience with us.
    Wow…lucky that you survived it. I guess I learn it the easy way!

  • echan

    Interesting place ha, my kampong is about a day boat trip from Long San or 3 hour drive via logging tracks. In fact all the boats are hand made.

  • Keong

    Dude…we should meet up. I would love to go back there and spend time there. Hmmm…making boats. That’s a GREAT idea!

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree