White Water Rafting, Padas River – Part 3 of 3

Padas white water rafting
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Continued from Part 2

“The rating of the rapids now is grade III to IV*. River depth is medium. You may face waves that are 4 to 6 feet high,” the tour guide announced. Wow, wave of 6 feet high? I hardly believed that. There were 8 rapids in this course, and all of them have a name. You may look at the map at the left. The Cobra and Washing Machine sound really nasty, and YES, they are. According to the guide, these two rapids are the toughest and scariest. I also curious why they named one of the rapids as “Scooby Doo”. They only know that it was named by an Australian back in 1982. For what funny reason, don’t know…

White Water Rafting

By 11:10 AM, we arrived Pangi, the starting point of rafting. The sky was cloudy but no rain. The rafting camp is just a few meters away. We were invited to go inside a big “cage”, where we had some watermelon and water as light refreshment. Sound like everything here today have something to do with Water, only the rafting was not “sub-sub water” lah (easy).

Padas White Water Rafting

After 15 minutes, we gathered for a safety briefing. There were 30 people went for rafting. We were split into three groups (boats). After we wore our life jackets and helmets, the tour guide gave us a 10-minute safety briefing. Mostly about how we rescue ourselves and others from the water, and how to raft safely. For example, to pull someone out of water, you must not pull their finger hand, this would hurt their wrist if the stream is strong. The right way is to pull their life jacket. And also the tip to avoid being eaten by crocodile. Just kidding, there is no crocodile here. Probably they don’t find water-sport interesting.

White Water Rafting Then we started to raft at 12 PM something. BTW, since I couldn’t afford to soak my Sony digital camera in the river, I got a new friend with me. It was a RM38 Kodak one-time-use camera that could take up to 27 pictures (ISO 800). It is rugged, waterproof and shock resistant, so very suitable for outdoor and underwater use. I just tied it on my life jacket.

Padas White Water Rafting

For the first 1 KM, it was a easy rafting on the flat and calm river, as a warm up. Everyone was asked to jump into the river to do “Body Rafting” (let the body floats and moves with the stream), then swam back to the inflated boat. I don’t know how to swim. The deep and yellowish water made my mind struggled but I did it anyway. Haha… not bad. I even took a photo of my feet. Next time you see these feet, you will know this is Smoke Head. But when I tried to “swim” back to the boat, others have gotten on the boat quickly, only me still kept swimming on the same spot. Quite embarrassing… 😛

White Water Rafting

We managed to conquer the “easiest” Warm-Up Rapid, where I almost broke my toenail. Sssss… very painful. The nail was not broken but became a bit curly. Then we moved into Head Hunter Rapid. Aahh… we were attacked by 3-feet waves and got wet all over. The cold river splashed right on my face a few times and I was not thirsty anymore. When we looked behind, there were already 3 persons from other 2 boats fell out. No worry. They were rescued shortly. For extra safety, we had 3 boats (from 2 different companies) to do the rafting together as a team. There were also two safety kayak followed at the back. The life jacket can float object up to 150 KG.

White Water Rafting

The Cobra Rapid was really frightening. It is a big and long rapid. We were hit by many 4-feet waves from ALL direction. Sometimes we even got “surprise” attack from behind. If you didn’t stay highly alert, the next second you would be in the water. We had to paddle hard enough to ran over the big wave, otherwise the wave would flip and capsize our boat. More team members fell like big potato this time. After the Lambada Rapid, we took a break at the shore. I was so glad I made it…

Padas White Water Rafting

After 10 minutes rest, we continued to raft again. They said Washing Machine Rapid was the second most difficult rapid. They were very very wrong. We were slapped by more aggressive waves, which were more unpredictable. The rapid was so strong as if a fierce monster was hitting really hard non-stop at the bottom of the boat, trying to knock you out. We were so busy paddling to leave this horrible place. Suddenly the guide shouted, “EVERYONE LEAN FORWARD NOW!!!! LEAN FORWARD!!!!!!!” When I looked at the front, OH SHIT!!!! I WAS TERRIFIED. A 6-feet wave was on its way to hit our boat face to face at fullest momentum. It was lightning fast and BANG! our boat was like hitting a solid wall and we were swallowed by the wave.

Padas White Water Rafting

When I opened my eyes, I was already in the water. I tried to stay calm and floated slowly to the surface after 3 or 4 seconds (like a century long to me). Once I got my face out of the water, I opened my mouth widely to take a big breath. When I did that, the spiral pulled me down into the water again and I sucked a lot of river water. It went on and on… I was spinned in circle (like in washing machine) in the river and totally lost control already, until the guide pulled me onto the boat. One guy was choked really bad (probably he breathed with nose in the water) and coughed for minutes. 7 out of 10 persons (except the 3 guides) were thrown into the river just now. I will never forget that moment in my life.

Hey, got something really funny here. After I developed the film, I found one blur photo below. I tried to recall but I don’t think I took any picture like this. It took me quite a long time to figure out that it was me in the water. I think when I fell into the river, the impact was so big that my camera was triggered. Too bad it is blur. You can imagine how fierce was the force.

White Water Rafting

White Water Rafting

White Water Rafting Finally, we reached the ending point in one piece around 1:30 PM. We took our personal belonging and changed our cloth. After that, lunch time at a lodge nearby! Got fried rice, mee, sausages, chicken wings, lamb… At 2:20 PM, we took the train back to Beaufort. Everyone was really exhausted, as you can see in the photos below:

White Water Rafting

It is such an unforgettable and thrilling experience. I will do it again in the future. My New Zealand aunty still could not stop talking about it excitedly even until today. I personally highly recommend it if your company wants to organise a team building activity. The BEST part will be throwing your fucking boss into the river and let him drown (don’t forget to throw stones at him). OK lah, this shall conclude my blog on this trip. Hope you enjoy reading it. And thanks for bearing with my poor English. I have tried my best to describe…


*River Rapid Rating System
Internationally graded standards are applied to judge the River Rafting in Scale of I to VI:
Grade I: Easy float
Grade II: Medium with clear passages
Grade III: Difficult waves, narrow passages
Grade IV: Very difficult, long, boiling rapids
Grade V: Extremely difficult, big violent drops
Grade VI: Unrunnable!

Related Post:
Kiulu White Water Rafting (Grade 1-2)

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  • pinolobu

    wow, excellent report! this beats any travel guide on padas river! you should consider publishing a travel guidebook for sabah.

  • Tradewind

    did you managed to body surf down a rapid? ^_^

  • Wah! Sounds very very fun!

  • Smoke Head

    tradewind, no oh… i heard other friend did it before too. i think that day even the warm up rapid is swift. probably for safety reason… we did not do it.

    thanks pinolobu, if i do, i will give you a copy free. haha…

  • Adie Anne

    my fiance do rafting on fasting month.. i respect him, he did not even skip his puasa to do that very very extreme activity i thought.. i think their team do it right.. the wave at the washing machine point defeated by them.. haha.. but their boss fainted after fall in water.. the rescuer take the boss with them..

  • Hi Adie, oh dear, was his boss fasting too? The rafting at Padas is really physically (and mentally) challenging. I hope he is ok. A salute to your fiance! When is your turn? 🙂

  • Adie Anne

    no.. he’s not fasting.. me..?? maybe a few years later.. im not confident to try hahaha… its too challenging for me..