Thursday, 12 November 2009

Temburong: Sungai Esu Waterfall, Belalong

Lunch was excellent, as usual at the Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre (KBFSC). We took the temuai to get to the Sungai Esu Waterfall. One of our native guides have told us that we could float down the main river from the entrance that leads to the waterfall. So, I was getting more excited about that activity rather than the visit, although waterfall visit turned out to be rather exhilarating.

The river was low in the afternoon. The temuai had difficulty pushing itself up the rapids as it got stuck by the stones at the rapids. Our skillful native boatman and the boat steerer have to make sure they work together to get the timings right. The boatman accelerated with the loud, roaring engine, and as soon as the boat hit the stones, the boat steerer quickly pried the boat out of the rocks to prevent it from hitting the river bank. We eventually got stuck and the boat steerer came out of the boat into the low river to push the boat up into deeper waters.

The boat dropped us at the entrance of Sungai Esu, where we walked along a small stream that leads to the waterfall. The stream is made of a series of tiny cascading falls and is littered with big, moldy boulders and fallen trees. The water is clear and cool. It was a great experience walking along the stream. Most of the time, I walked in the stream, avoiding the slippery river banks. At times, I had to climb on boulders or over fallen trees. Sometimes, I had to go under the trees, or into the small pools with freezing cold water or stepping up on the tiny falls or rapids. It was quite an adventure we had just getting to the falls in addition to the little boat trouble earlier. I walked alone, taking in the beautiful surrounding accompanied by nature's music of the flowing stream.

I was getting closer to the roar of the waterfall. Finally, it came in view though partially blocked by an extremely large and treacherously slippery boulder. The pool in front of the boulder was bigger and colder than the ones before. After fighting the cold, I got out of the pool and grabbed onto the readied rope. One wrong step and it could all get extremely ugly. The rocks are extremely sharp at the edges and I had suffered a few minor cuts.

We all had an amazingly fun time at the waterfall. Each of us went under the fast falling water to enjoy a good massage. To do so, one has to enter the pool that is as cold as North Pole! I was taking small steps into the pool to slowly adjust parts of my body to the cold until someone splashed water at me! At first, I shivered to the cold while my body numbed. But, after some kicking about in the water, the experience became extremely siuk (fun)!

Our experience floating down the river was fun but a little scary. The river was flowing pretty fast especially at the rapids. On one occasion, I almost hit a big boulder as I was being swept away by the fast current. I swam with all my might to avoid it and had to be careful of not kicking into the rocks at the riverbed.

Brunei continues to amaze me every now and then. My stay in Belalong had been exciting, interesting, educational and beautiful. I've never been into a jungle as thick as the rainforest of Temburong and getting to learn and experience so much. "The Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures", I see now where this is coming from and I am proud.

Lady boat steerer got out of the temuai to push it when it got stuck

Here is our boat steerer pushing the boat out of the stones and away from the river bank

Walking in the stream that leads to the waterfall

Walking in freezing cold water and against the small rapids

Pretty easy walking at this spot

A big interesting stone just before climbing up the big boulder to the waterfall

A colleague hanging onto the rope while getting ready to climb the big slippery boulder

Icy cold pool in which the waterfall flows. See what I mean about the splashing.

Enjoying the friendly forces of nature

The river was getting shallow as we were floating down this point. So, we got up and walked to the other side where the fun part is.

Last rapids we floated past before reaching KBFSC

One of our boatmen demonstrated a somersault before plunging into the water

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