…….The World Without Boundaries

My Long Long Journey to Kapit, Sarawak

Written By: jipp - Oct• 26•14

One of the trips that I anticipated most this year was a trip to Kapit, one of the innermost parts of Sarawak in the Borneon island of Malaysia. I had always wanted to go there for the fact that I was surrounded by Sarawakian friends when I was at the university. I’d listen to their stories – ranging from their upbringing environments to the their close day-to-day relationship with rivers which according to them were their lifelines. I was so fascinated by their stories and I tried to imagine to the best I could knowing that one day I’d go to some of those places that they mentioned and see for myself if my imaginations had been anywhere close to reality. Heh.


Wisma Sanyan in Sibu, which at 26-storey, is the tallest building in Sarawak

One of the name of places that my friends kept mentioning was Kapit so when the chance of going there suddenly came knocking at my door, I was ecstatic. Of course there is no other way of going to Kapit more conveniently than by boat – or rather bot ekspres as the locals would call it. I flew from KL right to Sibu which is the point of access to Kapit and took a boat from there via Sungai Rajang, which is as known to everybody the longest river in Malaysia and one of the longest in the world.


It was good to be back to Sibu again after my maiden visit back in 2009. I can’t believe how it has changed so much within that quite short span of time. I liked Sibu back then I still liked it when I returned again this time. The dangdut night club that I went to back then was still there and I couldn’t help but smiling when I came to think of those days when I was so adventurous to get into a night club alone. I wouldn’t even say how that night ended 😛


The night market is a must go in Sibu

Of course, the best experience of going to Kapit was the boat ride itself. I gotta say I was quite impressed by how efficient the system was – from ticketing to handling of luggage and how they stick strictly to their schedule of depature and arrival. They must have been doing it for a very long time that they really seem to know what to do. Everything was so easy and smooth that for a moment I questioned the need of a road as an alternative to the express boats as a mean of public transport to all those places.


The fact that I’d be spending 6-7 hours on the boat sent shivers down my spine and I was bracing for the worse of worse. I mean, 6 hours on a bus is already a nightmare, let alone cruising on a boat. Again and again my expectations had been proved wrong. Taking a VIP seat to minimize the possibility of me passing out just in case the ride was too rough for my brittle body to handle, I was in for a surprise.

It was so comfortable I had to peep out just to make sure that I really was on a boat and not some damn Boeing because seriously, it was more comfortable than being in a VIP seat on a MAS flight! I was made to know that the seats in the other classes were just as comfortable – only a little bit noisier because they are closer to the engines.


The only thing that I wished I could suggest to them to improve was the movies that they played. I mean, seriously, there are so many other movies in the world that they can play on instead playing the same damn movie over and over again for the whole trip because seriously, one could really die out of boredom. The movies that they played are so ancient they should belong to a museum now (but still quite entertaining though – damn funny pocongs. LOL).


So, I arrived in Kapit some 3 hours later. It was far more developed that I had imagined. It was the kind of town that is so ready for a huge transformation judging from the extensiveness of construction of new buildings. The boat stopped there for merely half an hour so I didn’t really get to explore much of Kapit town. The town is perched on the side of a hill that overlooks Rajang River which is obviously the very lifeline of its residents.


Kapit was not really our final destination. Instead, we rode on for another 3 hours or so to a remote village called Sempili which is located on the riverside of Batang Baleh. All throughout my stay there, I noticed how I had never been so close to a river before – both physically and mentally. I mean, I was there to do some research on river so I had to walk back and forth from the house that I stayed in to the river – like several times a day – trying to gather as much research material as I could. DSC04738a

Suddenly finding myself surrounded by elements of nature, it was a world different from the hectic life that I lead back in KL. But I also found it very – rejuvenating. I mean, coming from a village where lifestyle and environment were almost similar to that of here, I felt like I was thrown back to my childhood back in my hometown of Keningau. Everything suddenly became so nostalgic to me.Heh. DSC05074a

I also had the chance of going to a long house for the first time (not taking into account the one at Sarawak Cultural Village in Kuching which is very superficial LOL) and it really was an amazing experience. I mean, I had heard a lot about customs and life at long houses and it was so good to see for myself how they live their lives away from civilization (literally). Surprisingly, it was far modern than how I had imagined and I’d say they seemed to live quite comfortably – even more comfortably that probably many thousands of people in KL. I have to highlight how welcoming the residents are to visitors and it really was a previllege to be there as a visitor.


Of course, being the only Dusun among a group of Malays, I couldn’t avoid from being served with tuak – a locally brewed rice wine. I would say it was quite too sweet for my taste which is quite different from our rice wine in Sabah. Still it tasted quite good and I had to stop myself from taking in more after my second glass or I’d start blabbering in front of my Malay colleagues. Ahaks!


Being an avid hiker, I couldn’t simply leave from there without throwing myself into a lil bit of hiking adventure. Led by a local, me together with my research team trekked through the dense jungle within the vicinity and viewed the village and river of Baleh from a high standing point. It was green and breath-taking and I could not bear thinking that Sarawak would someday be stripped from all the beauty of nature that they have been blessed with if they don’t manage them properly enough now.


I mean, every now and then a barge full of logs would cruise by and it really is disheartening to see how Sarawak is losing more and more of  of its most precious heritages. Logging activities are running very extensively in Sarawak and there’s no way of telling when they are gonna say they’ve had enough – if ever. Uhuks! DSC05929a

The fact that the forest provides water catchment for the whole area could not be simply ignored as well. After all the water will all go to the main river which – again – is more like the lifeline of the people across where it cuts through. I had to come to discover that Sempili alone is blessed with quite a number of beautiful waterfalls and I had the privilege of going to some of them. Amazingly enough, these beautiful waterfalls are rarely visited by people so they are completely in their original and natural setting! The term ‘hidden gem’ could not be matched more perfectly. These waterfalls truly are the hidden gems of Kapit.


While the waterfalls alone were already a wow, it was the hiking journeys to these waterfalls that really made me go estatic in excitement. I mean, seriously, it felt surreal to be walking along the beautiful creeks with crystal clear water that sparkles luminously against the sun rays that somehow managed to peek through the lush greenery above. It was so beautiful and I had never been so close to nature for quite some time.


Another thing that is probably worth highlighting was my encounter with Empurau – which at RM500-RM700 per kilogram at very few selected restaurants in Kuching and probably Sibu is one of the most expensive fishes in the world. It was storied at local newspapers how a tycoon from Hong Kong flew in his private jet all the way to Malaysia to eat Empurau for which he was said to have paid RM1500 per kg! Erkkkkk!


Well, thinking that I could never afford to eat Empurau if anywhere else (much cheaper in Kapit), I persuaded my colleagues to collect money among ourselves to buy an Empurau which was caught by one of the villagers there. Of course it was no feast but more like to get a taste of it and found out for ourselves what made it so expensive. One of the teachers at the school was so kind to cook it for us and I gotta say it could not be cooked better. It was yummy, alright, and the texture was very smooth that it melted in the tongue but still I wouldn’t spend my hard-earned money over it. LOL.


My journey to Kapit was one amazing experience. It was eye-opening and it made me realize that there are much more to Sarawak than its gigantic caves, super-long rivers and probably its, errrr, extensive deforestation. I promised to myself that I’d come back for more.

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One Comment

  1. thomas says:

    I was there visiting a friend a few years back

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