Lex Petros: November 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rafting Trip on Slim River

Nov 21st. My first rafting experience! Sg. Slim aka Slim River.
Rapids! The first thought on my mind before embarking on a wet adventure, filled with spills and thrills. This trip was organized by our very outdoorish friend, David Jr. whom some of you might know from his blog (malaysia-asia) on holidays, outdoors and food!

Our adventure started with a rendezvous at the Rawang R&R for "hot" nasi lemak and teh tarik. When they said "hot"they really meant it! Not referring to the spicy-ness, but the piping hot little green packets going for RM1 each! The tantalizing sambal with coconut milk rice really kicks off a fun day with friends. Then, an hour's drive to Kg. Ulu Slim where the Hot Springs are located. We would be couriered into the Ulu Slim Forest Reserve toward our starting point on the river via 4WDs. Really fun ride slipping in the mud and experiencing mud terrain tires take on the terrain! Certainly will wake you up. You'd come across some Orang Asli Kids along the way, all eyes aglow spectating us "city folks".

The guides will dispatch essential safety gear i.e. helmets and life jackets to all rafters new and experience. A safety briefing will commence prior to assigning teams into the rafts, about 5-6 persons per raft. Teams are taught paddling techniques and certain manoeuvres on the raft. For e.g. "boom boom" means everyone much secure their paddles and crouch in steep drops and "jump jump" means everyone must bounce around to coax the rubber dinghy into moving out of obstacles and tight spots! Our guide's name was "Juice" an east-Malaysian from Sabah.

Generally, this river's difficulty level stars from Grade 1 to 3. Essentially:-
Grade 1: Very small rough areas, might require slight maneuvering.
(Skill Level: Very Basic)
Grade 2: Some rough water, maybe some rocks, might require some maneuvering.
(Skill Level: Basic Paddling Skill)
Grade 3: Whitewater, small waves, maybe a small drop, but no considerable danger.
May require significant maneuvering
(Skill Level: Experienced paddling skills)
(Read more about on wikipedia)

Soon, I realised that overturns and being flung out of the raft was a real possibility! On the arrival of the first drop (Grade 3, I reckon), we were briefed and was told that the moves involved everyone dropping down into the raft on cue from our guide. It was more like a subtle S-shaped dropped. We were the first raft to set course. On the way down, we rammed the rock and the apex of the "S" and that's where I got flung out of the raft!...losing my paddle at the same time. Somehow, instinct took over and as I fell, I managed to grab on to the raft's lifeline where my fellow rafters hauled me in. My eyes were closed most of the time, not because of fear, but to prevent my contact lenses from being flushed out!

We landed on the banks after a few yards from the drop to watch the other rafts try the same thing. The guides were really good at what they do, all standing on each side of the banks with rescue lines just in case!

The whole session took roughly 4 hours to complete the 1.5km route.

Nearing the end of the trip, Juice forewarned us that he would tip the raft over just for "the heck of it"...well, actually, since we hadn't experience a capsizing raft! So, about 150 yards from the termination point, he maneuvered the raft into a short fall and had us trapped in a vortex a bit. There, everyone was told to lean to one side and told to keep pulling at the lifeline to lift one end of the raft up! One two three! Everyone was in the water! The raft tipped over so fast I had no time to avoid the falling dinghy! The last thing I saw before I was in was a big green tube dropping on my face!

At the end, we made our way out of the water whilst watching the other raft being ditched! They had gotten stuck in between some rocks and there was just no way to get it unstuck but for a bailout!

After drying ourselves partially, we did lunch back at the village (which is provided in the package) near the Hot Springs before retiring for the day.

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