White-water Kayaking in Sg. Sungkai

By Sin Siew Fun, Jenny Yow, Beatle Yap, and Tong Wai-Hing
Photos by Mnsmarine

On a sunny Sunday morning (November 30, 2003), 14 participants (Group A) including trip coordinator Hon Yuen, traveled in a van from KL Sentral to Sg. Sungkai, Perak for our white-water kayaking trip. When we reached Sg. Sungkai, the kayak organisers – the cheerful and chatty Chan Yuen-Li, energetic Eddie, sociable Salim and active Akai, greeted us.

After a short briefing, we were equipped mentally (brief knowledge and tips on kayaking), physically (donning life jackets and helmets) and socially (pairing with our kayak partners). Excited and enthusiastic, we carried our colourful inflatable kayaks and paddles down to the river. We put into practice what we were taught at the briefing. While trying out our new found kayaking skills, we spotted a bright blue kingfisher bird flying past us, which then perched on a nearby tree branch.

Sungkai2Using our paddles, we moved forward, backward and sideways through the rushing rapids. When stuck on a huge boulder, we were advised to lean towards the rock (and downriver) for more stability and to avoid the kayak capsizing. If we fell into the river, we were also told what to do. We made several stops after each rapid. Everyone was helpful and the guides ensured everyone was safe especially when several kayaks overturned.

A few confident participants accepted the challenge of solo kayaking and they braved through the rapids. In my kayak, there was I, my partner Evelyn and Salim, the river guide. Initially, the guides felt that both of us were unable to steer the kayak through the strong currents. However, after much practice and guidance, our guide gave us his thumbs-up approval.

During the journey, we provided some afternoon entertainment for the Orang Asli. Imagine the whole village coming to watch us in amusement! Not wanting to miss the fun, the Orang Asli kids stripped and jumped straight into the river. They were natural swimmers, obviously enjoying themselves and laughing in delight while the smiling women sat by the riverbank as we paddled our kayaks past them.

Immediately after the last rapid, my kayak mates decided to overturn the kayak. As my partner said, “No wet, no fun.” After 2.5 hours of kayaking, the organisers treated us to a lovely lunch. We then met up with Group B members led by Jin Khoon before returning to KL at about 2.30 p.m. All in all, it was a “funday on a Sunday”, too short not a bore as it left us wanting more! – Sin Siew Fun

Also in Group A:

“White-water kayaking was one of the things that I wanted to do so when I saw the activity in the newsletter, I jumped at the opportunity. Looked forward to the day and finally landed in Sungkai. Kayaking down the river was divided into several sections. I went down with the river guide Eddie as confidence level was lacking and current was strong. First section: lost balance, kayak overturned and I fell into the water. Of course, the guide saved me. The first capsize was good as it killed the fear in me. After this, the thrills of beating the rapids were just fantastic. These were followed by a second and third capsize. My body still aches after the third capsize – hope no fractures. It is an experience that will stay with me for some time. Thanks to MNS Marine Group for a giving me a great time.” – Jenny Yow

“The most memorable is the three times the kayak capsized and surviving through it. The detailed instructions and tips given by Eddie and Yuen-Li were good.” – Beatle Yap (solo kayak).

“Being a first timer at kayaking, I really enjoyed myself on this trip. The trip was very well organised with no hitches. I was admiring the river – looks clean to me except for a bit of oil and mud at certain areas. My special thanks to Yuen-Li, Eddie & the two orang asli guides for taking good care of us by making everything easy for us! Surprisingly, I did not have many aches after this trip.” – Tong Wai-Hing


Note: The 13 Group B members also reported having a good time on/in the river. After their afternoon kayak, they had a snack before leaving for KL, arriving around 8:30 p.m.