Sunday, June 15, 2008

A journey---30 years back.









Not many motor boats fitted with engines and gears of the 70s and 80s are still operating on the Rajang and Igan rivers in Sibu. The handful that are still in operation, are however, still very efficient.Recently I embarked at the Kapit Wharf (Pulau Babi)on one of these boats to Sg. Assan. The 1 1/2 hours return journey took me back to time 30 years ago.I say 30 years ago because according to the owner, his boat is still operating on a navigational equipment installed 30 years ago. Sound worried? You shouldn't, because the boat is being surveyed every year and certified seaworthy by the Marine Department as well as the Sarawak River Board.Although it is just a short journey, it promises a few surprises for those who have never been to Sg. Assan by boat.First surprise is the very cheap fare of RM1.50 one way. Next two surprises will come as the boat approaches Pulau Li Hua at Upper Lanang. As you see two very big and nice bungalows to your left, you certainly will exclaim: "Wow, so big and beautiful. Whose houses do they belong?" After passing the two units of multi-million dollar home, you will come to the impressive Lanang Bridge. Viewing the 1.2km bridge from the boat travelling underneath it will give you a different perspective. Slightly above the Lanang Bridge is the entrance to Sungai Assan. If it is low tide, the whole river is black or deep reddish brown( sungai merah) colour while it is teh chi peng (deep yellowish to deep brown)colour during high tide.As the boat sails up the narrow Sungai Assan, you will be pleasantly surprised by the traquality on both banks. It is so green and peaceful and there are very limited errosion and pollution. Along the way you might also see some nice birds including the colourful kingfisher and the Iban people fishing,farming,playful children jumping from the jetties into the river, women washing clothes and so on. The area is home to 8 Iban longhouse communities. When the last passanger is disembarked, the boat makes its return journey to Sibu, collecting outward passengers along the river banks. Many villagers here prefer going to town by boat because it costs 50% less than paying the toll to cross the Lanang Bridge by saloon. For us city dwellers, do not complain of the monotonous life .There are so many interesting places, some of which may be just at our doorstep waiting for us to explore.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

We wish Rejang is also merah. It looks so much better than kopi-o colour

Anonymous said...

How do we find the boat to go there? Do we ask 'where is the boat to Bawang Assam?' at Pulau babi?

rubberseeds said...

anonymous 1: Why not wishing the Rajang to have clear and clean water again like 50 years ago?

anonymous 2: You can ask around at the wharf. People there are usually very friendly and helpful.Most of the boats also have notice boards saying what time they are leaving for the destination.You must however, make sure where you want to go, Bawang Assan or Sungai Assan.One is upriver and the other is downriver.

-eiling- said...

wow, RM1.50 fare is really cheap! What else can we get for RM1.50 nowadays?!!

rubberseeds said...

eiling: How about a small bite of Fidani?

Anonymous said...

Make this boat trip part of the local sight-seeing package. Make a map and nice pamphlet having pictures on it taken by rubber seeds.

If we have a trip along the river in any western countries, it would be many euros.

Anonymous1

rubberseeds said...

anonymous 1: Good idea. Ministry of Tourism together with the private sector should put this boat trip on the tourism map.

-eiling- said...

yeah you can get half a piece of fidani but we don't see half a piece. that's the problem