Malaysia: Sabah

One Day Ultimate Outdoor Rafting: White Water Padas River

Saturday, February 07, 2015

I never think about I was so lucky to getting a free two persons rafting tour ticket to Padas River, Beaufort in my whole life. The day has came true when I heard my name was being called out as one of the prize winner on a Chinese New Year 2005 event held in chancellor hall which organized by University Malaysia Sabah student. As there would be an extra free ticket, so that I invited two of my block mates to join my rafting tour before the extra ticket has wasted with its expiry day. 

We took our package with BUSAT Borneo Ultimate and I paid none for the tour meanwhile two of my friends paid RM75 each, and it included transportation from Kota Kinabalu to Beaufort, free train ticket from Beaufort to Pangi, light refreshments, lunch, river guide, vehicle hire for back home ride from Rayoh (ending point) to Beaufort and a certificate for every participant.


The Padas River located in the vicinity of Beaufort suburban city is one of Sabah’s better-known and bigger rivers and is the second largest, natural draining system in the state. The Padas River does start life in a region called Ulu Padas. It is an unspoiled, remote rainforest area with elevations above 3,000 ft. and in it you are likely to find what is Sabah’s last remaining old-growth forest. In an area of Borneo bordered by Indonesia’s Kalimantan and Sarawak, little explored peaks as high as 6,000 feet provide the headwaters of the Padas River.

This pristine and clear water which will eventually make its way down to the lower reaches of the Padas River, where it will become the water supply for the areas of Labuan, Beaufort and Tenom, be used for hydroelectricity and, of course, provide the adrenaline packed fun for eager white water rafting adventurers.

Padas River, located in the interior division of Beaufort, a town was named after British Governor, with shop houses built high above the roads to avoid the periodic floods of the Padas River.
The Start of the Day

On 15 March 2005, we started our journey at 7am early morning from Kota Kinabalu and took the ride to Beaufort for about 2 hours drive. On the journey, one of them was super talkative and called himself as ‘Spiderman’, and he was extremely funny to tell a lot of lame jokes, made the 2 hours journey was not so boring and much more entertaining. We were glad to see lush paddy field, village settlements, and to witness the sublime views of pass-by mystical Mount Kinabalu on the road going to Beaufort. We finally reached Beaufort train station at around 9am. 

Beaufort Train Station, one of the railway stations in the old day assumed the role of principal inland carrier and the chief export commodities transported included rubber, timber, stone, sago, palm leave and firewood.

Why my face looks so struggling? Isn’t the reflection of shining hot sun?

In Beaufort train station, we really saw an old and ancient train that worked on a steam locomotion mechanism and some of the cabins were just wooden compartments with no seats, which it was working for several decades in Borneo. You might have doubt about this train in your mind that whether this train could worked pretty well or not. I felt pretty thrill and fun since it was my first time at the idea of riding on such an old thing! 

10 minutes later, we boarded this so call “antique” train to Rayoh train station. It took us about 1 hour to reach Rayoh place where it was a pit stop for us to really put down our belongings, changed our dry clothes and had our little refreshment here before we took another train to Pangi - “The Last Train of Borneo” that cuts through the beautiful jungle and a starting point for rafting, and there was our fun began.

This is a very antique train that pick up us from Beaufort to Rayoh.

At about 12 noon, we reached Pangi station, and here we were served with light refreshment and scrumptious fruits. We signed a liability release form and briefed thoroughly on a safety issue by our knowledgeable and adventurous guide and then changed to our rafting gear. Our river guide those who briefing us was a humorous guy, whose name I could not recall, maybe his jokes was just kept us in stitches throughout. He gave us a good briefing on the paddling methods as well as all safety issues that we should be concerned about. Then it came with the paddling part demonstration. 

After a safety briefing and demonstration, we were divided into two groups since there were 10 of us where we had meet up with another groups of Malaysian girls who joining us later in the midst of journey. Each raft can only fit a maximum of 6 rafters excluding the guide who will be at the back of the raft to lead the raft movement.

One of our group photos was captured with another group of Malaysian girls from peninsular. I heard that they were stationed here to be a school teacher.

It was a 10 km long river and deemed as one of the longest water rafting river in Borneo and the whole rafting took about 2 hours plus. We went down to the river with our respective guide and here the Pangi point where we started rafting through the crashing wave all the way down to Rayoh. We will be going to pass through few rapids with the names like Headhunter, Cobra Point, Merry-go-round, and adrenaline flow and to witness the untouched nature on the banks of the river and soak up the atmosphere.

The rafting route map: the start off and ending point.

Rafting Process
We started off the first 1km before we entered the rapids and we were all encouraged to do a body rafting in this calm water and it was such a good sensation feeling. We will expect our body all turning into yellow after body rafting because the water is muddy yellow and not white. 

The water is brownish with unclean high mud content.

After 1km rafting journey, the water flowed with no mercy and here it came with an endless rapids. You had just to ensure yourself hang on tight and avoid falling off the raft. We had to pass so many rapids until I lost count on how many of them in that trip. If I am not mistaken, it might be around 10 crazy rapids had to pass through them. Our river guide was so helpful and experience. In fact, he gave us instruction on when to paddle and when not to do. We followed his instruction every time when we felt our raft was nearly capsized but luckily we paddled and paddles again and finally able to stabilize our raft.

At one point, our raft was rocked violently as we crashed into the raging current and lone rocks. We paddle at hard as we could keep our craft from smashing into the jagged rocks along the shore waiting to devour us like a great white shark. Our adrenaline was pumping as it did for anyone experiencing his or her first white water rafting trip. Our raft was lost balanced and our river guide was thrown into the water. We were all felt anxiously because our raft was in front of theirs and we did not realised that he had been thrown into the water until we finally saw our river guide was rafting beside us. 

There was also few times when our raft went 90 degree. We were paddling in synchronization, row and row again the boat gently down the stream. Our river guide also told us that there were no crocodiles in the river which kept us at peace when falling off the raft. As reaching the end point, the rapids were become strong as it nearly capsized us again. But our raft did not capsized at all throughout the entire rafting day. At about 3pm afternoon, we finally reached the ending point after about one and half hours of exciting rafting. We emerged from the rough waters and the feeling like a super heroes. Soon after our little adventure, we got back to our tour operator's station, showered and had lunch.

We were posing happily to the camera for a photograph. You can look at my naughty face that showing lots of endless energy after the lunch.

Then we boarded the train back to Beaufort from Rayoh. The train ride was another 1 hour with very tranquil and pretty countryside scenery, then to Kota Kinabalu city again, relieving the thrill over and over again in our heads on how awesome it was, while being thankful that we all had made it out alive.

We gathered to take a group photo again before we left this Padas River in Rayoh train station.

Pretending to be a professional canoeist though! It was fun.

This is my certificate reward for the white water rafting completion.

I definitely enjoyed my whole 'muddy' white water rafting and flint stone experience. It was not much of maximum adrenaline-rush other than our nervous moments we had but we all had a blast definitely.

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