The Sungai Pahang International River Rafting Expedition began in year 2001 and has been held every year since. It is held normally in April or May, during the water fest festival in Malaysia.
It is one of the adventure-based activities in the Pahang tourism calendar that is always eagerly looked forward to by local and foreign adventure seekers.
Normally the Sungai Pahang International River Rafting Expedition takes about five days to complete.
And the starting point is either Kuala Lipis, or from Temerloh, the home of the patin (silver cat-fish).
The route down Sungai Pahang from Temerloh to Pekan involves a distance of around 180 kilometers, compared to about 329 kilometers if the event is started from Kuala Lipis.
The Sungai Pahang is the longest river in Peninsular Malaysia extending more than 330 kilometers from the hinterland town of Kuala Tembeling to the royal town of Bandar Diraja Pekan at the river-mouth.
This river has been for centuries an important waterway and the life-blood of communities living along its riverbank.
Various water-craft vessels and boats had plied this river upstream and downstream for trade and industry as well as for communications.
The quaint and silent-moving river becomes vibrant whenever the Sungai Pahang International River Rafting Expedition annual event happens. Not only the participants of the expedition, but also people of all levels in the villages and communities living along the riverbanks of the Sungai Pahang, feel the joys and thrills of the event.
The popularity of this Sungai Pahang International River Rafting Expedition can be observed by the yearly increase in participants.
In year 2001, when the event was first organized, only 36 rafts took part. In year 2002 the number increased to 64, in 2003 (73), 2004 (80) and increasing yearly. In year 2009 there were more than 100 rafts participating.
And every year there will be some very important persons (VIPs) taking part, albeit for a short trip, by joining the fun and adventure of the expedition.
Usually in the morning, the river jetty, like Taman esplanade in Temerloh town, will be filled with people, the expedition participants and local town-folks. Banners and colorful decorations adorn the river jetty, and everyone is in festive mood, ready for the launch of the exciting expedition.
The month-long preparations by the participants, building their rafts from the big stems of bamboo, will now see the event actually taking place.
And there will be all kinds of bamboo rafts- big ones, small ones, gaily decorated ones with flags and banners, and of course for the VVIPs, the rafts will be fitted with specially–made tents and comfortable seats and chairs.
And the paddles and oars to row the rafts too were of all lengths, shapes and colors. Each raft is provided with long wooden poles for steering, guiding and maneuvering the bamboo rafts when traveling on the river.
All participants of course will have to wear the body vest floats as precaution, and tire floats are usually also carried for emergency and safety reasons.
Initially tied to the jetty, the royal raft (also made of bamboo) is actually a big covered tent of yellow and light blue top with chairs and decorated with the Malaysian, Pahang and flags of participants.
After the usually formal speeches, the rafts will be launched off by the royalty.
And there will be scheduled stops normally at Chenor, Serengkam in Maran, Chenor or Kampung Baru Salong, Ganchong and finally ending at Kuala Pahang and Bandar Diraja Pekan.
At each stop, the participants will be welcomed, feated and treated with a kampung-style "kenduri" (Malay traditional feast with favorite local cuisine and dishes), local cultural show and games.
HRH the Sultan of Pahang, DYMM Sultan Ahmad Shah, or the Tengku Mahkota Pahang, will normally make time to meet the participants when they stop at the scheduled places.
Truly, in Pahang there is no divide between the royalty and his subjects. The joys and thrills of the population are also enjoyed and participated by the royalties in Pahang, and this river rafting expedition is one occasion where royalties and the populace take part in the festivities together.
Of course it is usually not all plain sailing (or rather paddling) for the rafters. The five days of challenges sometimes see a few rafts in trouble. Well, maneuvering the rafts in the flowing waters take experience and skill, and depends on the speed of the flow of river-water.
A few rafts may break when they knock and hit against hard objects along the river, like the beams or columns of bridges, logs and tree-roots along riverbanks. One or two others may capsize due to some reasons, but all of these only add to the experience and enjoyment of the expedition. And once fixed, all participants reach the final destination safely.
Moral support, hand-wavings and cheers from villagers and communities along the river, provoke additional delights and enthralls further the joyful experience in river rafting and eases the tiredness in rowing.
There are usually many prizes given out and in many categories, for example, for best decorated raft, fastest team, and also special prizes for the handicapped who participated and completed the expedition.
The awards and presentation of prizes were usually given out by the HRH the Sultan or Tengku Mahkota or by Tengku Puan Pahang, Tengku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, at the closing ceremony at Bandar Diraja Pekan.
But in the final analysis, all participants in this Sungai Pahang International River Rafting Expedition will come away as winners. They all won by having valuable intimate knowledge of rivers, the forests, mangroves and vegetation surrounding rivers, and the bio-diversities inherent in river systems. They will be more aware of the importance of rivers in the daily lives of humans.
Besides the tourism aspect, the Sungai Pahang International River Rafting Expedition is an essential event not only for its sports and recreational activity but as an educational approach to foster love for rivers and all water channels.
This event is an excellent way to inculcate in the minds of humans that they should play their part in ensuring the health of rivers by not polluting them, and more importantly, to respect and preserve the bio-diversity of nature’s eco-systems for the future benefit of mankind.
Well, the joys of river rafting in the Sungai Pahang International River Rafting Expedition cannot be described in words. You have to experience it to know the thrills and joys of a unique adventure.
So, come to Pahang when it's scheduled. Visit this Pahang Hotels and Resorts Directory for bookings and contact numbers of hotel and lodgings in the main towns of Pahang.
As always, from me...
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