Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Epic Padas White Water Rafting Experience

The itinerary for water rafting:

6.30 - 7.50am From Kota Kinabalu to Beaufort train station
7.50 - 10.45am From Beaufort train station to Rayoh train station
10.45 - 11.00am Change for rafting and keep your belongings there
11.00 - 11.30am From Rayoh train station to Pangi train station
11.30 - 11.45am Light refreshment and safety briefing
11.45 - 1.00pm Water rafting from Pangi back to Rayoh train station (approx 10km)
1.00 - 2.00pm Lunch + shower
2.00 - 2.40pm From Rayoh train station to Pangi train station
2.40 - 4.00pm From Pangi train station to Beaufort train station
4.00 - 5.30pm From Beaufort train station to Kota Kinabalu

Itinerary recorded by Amanda. 

Contact: Joulian
014 2844062
016 8044892
016 8360280
Min 4 RM150 each.

I paid RM150 and it include transportation from home to train station, train ticket, lunch, and back home ride.

Alternatively this is just one of the private companies that offer water rafting and there are others company such as Riverbug and etc.


Now that you have gone through some of the important information let's hear about my experience on Padas water rafting! First thing first, the map above shows the starting point (Pangi Station) and ending point (Rayoh Station). You will first arrive at Rayoh station to drop off your bags and change your clothes and wait for the next train to Pangi Station. They do provide waterproof bags on board but personally I think it's better to keep in your bag because the drop off bag location are well secure by people.

The stretch of this rafting is 12km where you will go through 2 km of warm up. They will purposely capsized the boat to stimulate real situation and allow you to try to climb into the boat with techniques that will be taught during briefing. They will also brief you on paddlling instruction and where should you swim to in case of falling off the boat. After the 2km warm up river stretch ended, the real fun begins!

Epic water rafting experience 

For starters, during the 12km of river we have to go through few rapids stage which contain fast streaming and unpredictable huge waves. We started with some simple, and fun rapids stage and there was this one special rapid stage called "Washing Machine". We were told by the boat guide that a day before there was a person got thrown off the boat and suffer deep cuts on his nose because of the shallow water. So we were advise to take the easy path of the rapid and avoid the middle section of the rapid because it may capsized the boat. 

Photo used as illustration credit by [link]
We enter the rapid with full paddle strength, initially it was a rough ride and all of the sudden as we approached to the middle of the rapid, a large rock hit the center left of the boat while I'm sitting front left. The impact caused me to fall off from the boat despite me locking my feet. I was wash off at least 10 feet away from boat and got pull by the rapid current to 20 - 25 feet away from boat. It was horrifying  because I landed on my back first on the river and hit the rock on the bottom and I was turn over and over again by the strong current.

I tried to reach my paddle but it was too late, the paddle got wash off faster and further away from me and when I realized I couldn't get my paddle I was already at least 20 feet away from my boat. Initially, I tried to grab hold of a big rock but the strong current lifted both me and the rock up. Oh man at that moment my hand was scrambling to grab hold of another bigger rock and the second attempt I successfully grab a huge heavy enough rock to sustain my weight and the current. At that point I was thinking of letting go the rock and swim to the side or hang on and risk my boat leaving me because of the strong rapid. If i were to try to swim to the side I will end up hurting myself with all the rocks in the bottom of the river.

Thankfully, I realized by the time I locked my position on the rock strongly, my boat was already coming side way towards me at high speed with the strong rapid current. And because of the strong current they couldn't stop and pull me up but hope that I could somehow get into the boat. At that moment, I felt everything was going slow motion, the expression of two of the boat guides, the movement of the boat and I could even felt the water current goes slower in my mind. I was repetitively telling myself "God I'm not gonna die here, not now not today".

In that instant, my mind could only imagine two things. It's either I got ramp down full force by the boat in the face or I grab hold on the boat strings and get drag through the rapid. Without split second to waste I grabbed on the boat shoulder, miss the string and amazingly somehow miracle happen I got ejected myself from the river like a salmon fish so high that I was able to spin 180 degree and land directly into the boat on my back.  

And the guide shouted " Okay! Paddle ON! We got a good catch today!" and paddle forward we went. When i got onto the boat, we were still 40% away to complete the rapid and I was relief that I got into the boat so fast.

I thought I lost my paddle and I had a little joy in my heart that I do not need to paddle and enjoy the ride until the end but as soon as we passed the rapid the guide shouted "Let's grab the missing paddle! it's floating gently on the left side!" I was like "Seriously?! And back to where my position is on boat and we continue to paddle until the end of the course.

So yea, that's how epic it is during my rafting at Padas River. It was dangerous because the rocks in the shallow water could potentially cause serious injuries. Thank God I didn't get into any serious trouble that day and we all went home with some stories to share.

Padas White River Rafting

Padas White River Rafting

Padas White River Rafting

Padas White River Rafting

Padas White River Rafting
How's the train to Pangi Station (Rafting starting point?)

The train that you will be taking from Beaufort to Pangi Station is one of the oldest train you can find in Borneo. Do expect the heat, smoke, noise and shakiness when you're commuting it. It is after all the oldest train since World War 2. The train is lack of seats and the seat's cushion may be a little wore of. It's best to arrive earlier and grab a seat. Oh ya, the fan doesn't work btw it's just for decoration. ;)

Padas White River Rafting

Padas White River Rafting
How's the safety measurement and precaution of water rafting in Padas?

Generally they have done a great job on briefing us on safety issues such as helmet and life jacket wearing, how to keep yourself save when you're in the river, how to climb yourself up the boat, where do you lock your leg during rafting, how to hold the paddle and etc. But as always, there will always be risk in any extreme sport. Be ready to act during time of emergency and do not freak out. 

Padas White River Rafting

Are you able to see the instavideo below? If you can't let me know thanks!

Padas White River Rafting

Will I do it again?
Perhaps not in near future. Overall, if you're an extreme sport lover, adrenaline junkie and love the thrill of rough water rafting do try out Padas White Water Rafting. Just remember to keep yourself safe! and plan ahead by checking the whether forecast. 

Stay safe and be awesome.

Hayden Chan

p/s: Just leave your question below the comment section and I will reply! ;)


  1. Wah!!! I'm trying out Kiulu this Sunday ><

  2. Hi Hayden.. I am trying to search for water rafting and i come to your blog. Midn if i ask you a few question?
    The contact that you provided "Joulian" do they attached to any travel agency? Do they have a website? How do i make appontment with them and what are the mode of payment.
    Hope to hear from you soon.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Jason! terribly sorry for noticing your comment up to now. Anyway the contact that i provide is private and he is not attach to any travel agency. He of course do not have website. You can call him and the payment method would most probably be pay on the spot. Hope that help you.