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 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.
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.
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 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?
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:
- First time in Miri Town, Sarawak
- Wild durian & Kolok mee at Miri.
- 5 hours on a 4WD into interior off Miri.
- Unique local houses in Sarawak interior.
- Smoked wild boar…nice!
- Loooong hike to look for an elusive waterfall.
- Sarawak river boats and a raging river.
- Jungle vines and rattan used in the jungles of Sarawak.
- Umbut or heart of palm tasting, first experience.
- Harvesting of the umbut by the Penan.
- Malat & Penat; the Penan’s blades.
- Kitchen in a traditional house.
- Video on jungle kitchen & feather stick making.
Click here to read about another rainforest adventure in Semban, Sarawak.