Monday, March 16, 2009

Into The Heart Of Borneo





I will be travelling up the Rajang to Belaga tomorrow. Many Sarawakian, even those living closest to Belaga in kapit, have been to places all over the world but never to this tiny town tucked in the heart of Borneo.The last time I visited Belaga Town was more than 10 years ago and my first trip to Belaga Town was in 1983. Belaga became more known to the outside world with the construction of the gigantic Bakun Hydroelectric Dam in 1994. When it is completed and commissioned in 2010, it will be one of the largest in the world, and the largest in Asia outside China. The controversial multi billion dollar Bakun Dam located some 20 km above Belaga Town will produce about 2,400 megawatts of power,enough for Sarawak and with excess to export to West Malaysia. The above aerial photos of the Bakun Dam project were taken in February 2003 when they had just completed building the 3 diversion tunnels and the coffer dam. The present landscape will be completely different from the old pictures and I hope during this trip I can have a glimpse of the dam and the huge reservoir behind it from a mountain top. The reservoir which is the size of Singapore (695 square km) will certainly be an incredible sight to behold.
I was pleasantly surprised the other day when I found out that the departure time for the express boat from Sibu to Belaga Town is still at 5.45 am. That was the same departure time 26 years ago when I first travelled there by boat! It will take about 8 hours to reach Belaga Town with a brief stopover in kapit. The most exciting experience along the journey will be shooting the notorious 6-km long Pelagus Rapids (during low water) above Kapit.
I expect to do a lot of hiking after arrival in Belaga. Hopefully the weather will be fine the next few days. See you all when I return in the weekend and wishing all of you a happy and productive week ahead.


15 comments:

Yan said...

Have a safe journey! Hey, I have been there - Belaga. And would love to go back. Hopefully, one day!

Bengbeng said...

Take great pics to share with us. Have a safe journey

nelson said...

Godspeed!

sarawakiana said...

Marvellous to hear that. Have a safe journey and bring back lots of pictures!!

-eiling- said...

have a safe flight! Wow, the photos are really sharp.

goolooloo said...

u took the shot from helicopter?

geneva said...

nice pictures you have there.

Superman said...

That is bakun...I've been there 2 years ago and until today, it still not yet complete. I like the photos you taken. Really nice. Hope to see more photos from Belaga as the view on the river banks will be nice. Have a safe and nice trip there.

Anonymous said...

This is the sector I always wanted to do since finishing school but never had the opportunity to...would be comparable to the river Nile expedition or even better..I believe.Funny feeling that the departure time will still be 5.45am after 26 more years..so so so sad.

p.s Aiyo..tell our fellow Malaysian the geography of this place la...only Menteri and timber tycoon can fly there in their heli. Thought airstripe in Belaga closed already. If I am not mistaken even the longboats carrying the ballot papers sank during the last General Election.

p.p.s..am DAM Mad of the $#%^&$#@. How ah? Cheers kpenyu

Philip said...

yan: You must have gone to Belaga during those days when PL was at TL.The town itself is more or less the same...local folks are very pessimistic about there future.

Bengbeng: I am home safely! Not many good photos to share as it was raining quite a bit up there.

nelson: I have to disappoint you for not able to take the photo of Meligai Hotel in kapit as it was raining during the time I reached Kapit. No chance to even get out from the express boat.

sarawakiana: Took a lot of river pictures...the water is as muddy as the lower Rajang and very serious erosion along the banks.

eiling: Thanks...a tough but safe journey.Was standing for 50% of the journey because there was so place to sit!

goolooloo:Yes, those photos were taken from a heli in 2003. We flew on many occassions over the area for more than 10 hours.

geneva: Thanks. When can I have the opportunity to shoot your models?

Superman: Thanks for your comment and coming here to read my blog.Will upload some pictures of Belaga taken in the evening and early morning to share with you soon.I heard the dam will be finally completed in 2010.

Kpenyu:I am afraid you would regret if you travel up the Rajang these days....you see destruction every where. But it is still worthwhile to go there once if you have never been there.Will upload a map showing the location of Belaga in the upcoming entry.Correct, the airstrip has closed so was the one in kapit.Boat accidents are quite common in the treacherouss waters in the upper reaches of the Rajang.Sorry, I couldn't get your meaning of the last sentence. See you in 2 weeks.

Anonymous said...

I meant many people are DAMN Angry because of the Dam And more Dams..kpenyu

Philip said...

kpenyu: 12 more dams are planned for Sarawak...and Murum Dam, not far from Bakun, is already underway.You know best who benefit most from these "development"

Anonymous said...

Philip. Check out aljazeera/english 101East. More stories of the Dams. A must see 30+minutes commentary and interview.kpenyu

nelson said...

it is okay phil, mehligai won't run away or close down anytime soon.

Nickerson Woo said...

nice journey~the forth picture is very nice~well done