Monday, July 6, 2015

Malaysia 2015: White Water Rafting At Kuala Kubu Bharu

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White Water Rafting At Kuala Kubu Bharu
Sungai Selangor, Kuala Kubu Bharu, Selangor, Malaysia - July 2015
Who would have thought an old fellow like me would go white water rafting again. That's a bit extreme even for an outgoing guy like me. Sure I had a lot of fun and adventure in my cycling trips (... see AhPek Biker), but this extreme sport would be of a different nature - one that would be more risky if safety measures are not taken seriously. Will I get weak kneed and wet my pants? Oh... Heck! Let's be gung-ho!


Okay, before we do any shooting, sailing, rafting or whatever; a bit of info on white water rafting for the uninitiated (and that includes me!)
White water rafting entails sailing down a river on an inflatable raft, sound simple doesn't it. Actually it is more than that as enthusiasts will tell you that there are different leves/grades that gauge the extremeness of the sport. More extreme means more exciting and at the same time more dangerous.
The categorizing starts from Level One which is the easiest and requires very little manoeuvring, one that just let the river takes the boat down. This one is so safe that one could probably snooze. At the other end is Level 6, one that is considered to be so dangerous that they are effectively unnavigable on a reliably safe basis (... click here to find out more about rafting levels).
We went to the one at Kuala Kubu Bharu (KKB) which is considered to be a Level 5; but to me it was perhaps Level 5.5 - scary, adrenaline pumping... and fun!

Rafting guide's demonstration during safety briefing.
Before jumping into the water, the most important thing is the safety briefing. The length and detail of the briefing depends on the level of hardness of the rafting. It is essential that one pays close attention to what the rafting guide has to say and demonstrate during this briefing. Details on how to act and navigate the boat (per the guides' shouted instructions along the way) will ensure that all will have a safe and good time. And more significant is how to react should one find oneself falling into the white water. There is a fair bit to learn.... but for me, the most important of all was:

The next thing to note is the equipment - oars, helmets and life jackets. When choosing a helmet, chose a size that fits tightly onto your head; don't worry if it's a bit tight as it will expand slightly when in the water. I made the mistake of having one that was slightly loose, when I jumped into the water, it was wobbling around my head.
The life jackets are slightly different from the normal life jackets, they came with an extra flap at the top (we will see what this flap is for later). Start buckling from the bottom up. Only having done an easy rafting at Taman Negara ages ago, I was a novice at this and was lucky that Kim was at hand to help me.

When not rowing, the oars should be held with the blade upwards and the broad face facing forward, don't want the sharp edge to hit a fellow rafter during the wild ride. Each boat sits up to six persons, excluding the guides.

A group photo before we kick off; faces all smiling, hearts still calm.
Haha... this will change later when the excitement kicks in.

To start off, it was a short stretch of fast flowing but fairly smooth rapids. This easy pace, without any rowing, gives one the opportunity to look around and enjoy the green scenery, and perhaps hope to see some wild life other than your fellow boaters.

Then rocks started appearing and one's attention is diverted away from the monkeys at the tree tops, attention is now on what's ahead.
"Forward!" the guide shouted, and we started rowing forward down the Sungai Selangor.

More rocks appear, churning the water, frothing it white.


As the water rushed through the rocks, so did our adrenaline rush through our veins; our hearts are pounding, the excitement building up. Still the guides managed to control the raft.... until.....

Suddenly a shout "All Right! All Right!". This does not mean everything is all right, but to the contrary it is not. The raft is stuck in between the rocks and all have to go to the right side and lean right, holding on to the ropes if necessary.

And we are through!

At these level five rapids, often require a fair bit of leaning outwards to the sides...

or even to the front or back, for good manoeuvring to steer the boat through the rocks. Not that much rowing is required.

 Oops..... a wrong move and the boat gets stuck on the rocks.

But more often than not, we did it right and the boat shoots through the rapids and we fly through!

This is exhilarating, this is exciting; THIS IS FUN!

Often the boat hit the rocks...

... or it seems to be almost fully submerged in water. It may look extreme and it IS extreme.
But the boats are strong and we are in the safe and experienced hands of the guides.

Somewhere in the middle, at a wide rocky edge, we stopped for a brief rest. Fruits, power-bars, etc. were passed around. We ate chatted and laughed at what we had gone through.

Some even enjoyed the rush of a small waterfall there.

The boats are calmed, parked at the riverside. So too are we, it's a good respite, a break from the excitement to recollect ourselves.

It's back into the cold water, moving onwards. The river had widened a bit but the spills were still as rough, thrilling and stimulating.

Towards the last kilometre or so the river quieted down to a slow, sedentary flow. Many jumped into the water to just lie back and float/pedalled down.
So that's what the back flaps of the like jacket is for, to act as a floating pillow as one laid back.

Others clung on to the rafts, being pulled along down river. A few stayed in the boats, leaning over and making small talk with those in the water.

It's a laid-back pace now. Just floating down, head on pillow, looking up to enjoying green flora among the blue sky; listening to some birds tweeting...

It was a calm before the storm, as we quickly got back into the rafts. We were approaching the final rapids, one that stretches from bank to bank of the much wider river now.

There's is no escaping this! As we went through, most of our boats flipped over and overturned..... it was a closing thrill for our ride.
We went "Yippeee!" and found ourselves in the water!

Hurray! We did it!
Oars went straight up and then down to splash onto the water, a saluting cheer.

(To see more photos of the fun, Click here).

Route of our ride; it starts near the Sungai Selangor Dam.

The rides are operated by:
PieRose Swiftwater Sdn Bhd.

11, Jalan Damai 7, Taman Damai Utama, 44000 Kuala Kubu Bharu, Selangor, Malaysia.
Phone/Fax: +603-60645040     |     Mobile: +6013-3613991
Email:     |     Website:

Note: 1. At time of blog, the charge per pax is RM180, this includes a nasi lemak lunch and snack/drinks along the way.
         2. Do contact them first to find whether the rides are running as sometimes water levels may determine whether the rafts can run down the river with an exciting pace.

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    1. Hi Alston,
      Your blog does not relate directly to white water rafting.
      But I am allowing your comment here as River Austin seems like a beautiful place.