My First Ever White Water Rafting Experience

I have been home quarantined in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for four months since our government imposed the Movement Control Order (MCO) on 18 March 2020. During this lull, I scrutinised my bucket list and thought when this MCO ends, I’d do something extreme or even insane. With the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) declared to take effect from 10 June until 31 August 2020, I was over the moon. Interstate travel was now permitted. As I love nature, Kuala Kubu Bharu (colloquially known as KKB) in Hulu Selangor, came to mind. I researched online about its beautiful nature spots and what interested me was the hive of fun activities and adventure sports it offered. The item on my bucket list… WHITE WATER RAFTING!

The Selangor River flowing at Kuala Kubu Bharu where they do river rafting
The breathtaking Selangor River which flows at Kuala Kubu Bharu, a spot famous for white water rafting.
Source: Image by Xventure Mind

Exploring Selangor Like A Tourist In My Own Country

I decided to travel alone and left Kuala Lumpur by car on Friday evening around 5pm and headed out to Tanjung Malim. It takes only an hour-and-a-half to arrive there. Since it was a leisurely drive, I arrived around 7pm. I checked in a hotel in Tanjung Malim, freshened up and took a short rest. By 8:30pm I went out to look for dinner and see what the small town offered. The hotel concierge had told me earlier that there was a variety of cafés some ten-minute walk away from the hotel. I found myself a packed local burger joint and I happily ate there. After dinner, I didn’t explore the vicinity as I was exhausted. I retired early for the night so that I can reserve my energy for tomorrow’s activity.

1. Setting My Foot For The First Time In Kuala Kubu Bharu: The Spot For White Water Rafting

Woke up to a beautiful Saturday morning. I left Tanjung Malim for KKB around 8:30am. The drive took only 20 minutes. I didn’t have time for breakfast but I did pack some snacks with me which came in handy later on.

As my car approached the meeting point for rafters along the Selangor River at KKB, canopies of trees lined both sides of the road. Immediately the beauty of the surroundings besotted me. My heartbeat went up slightly as I became excited with anticipation of what lay ahead in the day. I had no inkling what to expect of this adventure. The sight of 40 other participants calmed me down a little. I found out some were experienced rafters, others attending a company retreat, and me… it was my first time!

Group photo of the participants of river rafters before going in the water
Before carrying our boats down the slope to the river, we all managed to take a group photo with the rest of the participants.
Source: Image by Xventure Mind

2. I Was Excited Even Before The River Rafting Began

The guides welcomed us and separated us into groups of six to eight people per boat. There was a total of eight rafting boats that day. Every boat had two guides each, steering the front and back. The guides briefed us on the safety procedures and reminded us to listen closely to their instructions. The experienced guides are ‘Orang Asli’, the indigenous people of the ‘Semai’ and ‘Temuan‘ tribes from the KKB area. Despite their lean physique, they are extremely fit and strong, and they move really fast in the water like acrobats!

It was only 10:30am, and the morning was bright and sunny. We were standing on higher ground and facing the river below us. My group of six people were instructed to carry our own rafting boat down the slope steadily and slowly. Our two guides also helped us with the boat, at the front and back. Carrying the slightly heavy boat itself was already a warm-up session to work up the sweat. All groups carried our boats in a single file to the river bank.

We stopped at the edge of the river, looking to our guides for what’s next, when they threw the boats into the river, you knew it was crunch time! As we boarded the boats, our guides made sure to position us based on our weight and size to balance the boat. If it isn’t balanced, it can easily capsize in the rapids.

The thrilling nature of river rafting at the Kuala Kubu Bharu river
Kickstarting the river rafting at Selangor River, KKB and the water was wild. I was seated at top right with the purple helmet, facing our guide known as ‘Abang Syukri’.
Source: Image by Xventure Mind

3. One Mistake And I Fell Off The Boat

The water was surprisingly clear, I had expected it to be murky. The banks along the river are lined with canopies of untouched greenery. I was swept away to another world, when I encountered my first rapid!

If it’s your first time river rafting, pay attention to the instructions from the guides! The white water is magnificent to look at but can be dangerous due to its strong currents if you don’t pay attention.

I was preoccupied with the beauty and might of the water when we approached our first sloping rapids. The guide at the back of our boat yelled out “SIT IN”, and we as a team obeyed without questions, except for me. I felt like I was in my own world alone with ONLY the nature around me.

I was at the front right position and I was slightly standing. The boat moved fast. With one nudge, it crashed into the rocks. I tumbled and fell face first into the raging water. The current swallowed me under in a spiralling motion. Instead of gasping for air, I was frantically gulping down water.

4. Is This It?… Snuffed Out In A Drowning Incident?…

The strong current was rocking my body slamming it against the rocks. When I broke the surface, I clearly spotted a boat on my far right. I had to act fast. I consider myself a strong swimmer. Although exhausted, I mustered all my strength to stay afloat.

Footage of me falling off the boat and trying to save myself.

Then I quickly swam towards the boat, the guide held out his paddle and I managed to grab it. He caught hold of my life jacket and swiftly yanked me into the boat. The guides even made a joke out of me and cheekily asked, “How did the water taste like sister? Sweet?” Indeed, I was trembling in fear but I managed to laugh it off because it was amusing. Please do not make the same mistake like I did, be vigilant and mindful at all times while on the boat.

5. A Sigh Of Relief As We Approached Calmer Waters

As we approached the last rapid, our guides used their paddles to push our boat against the rocks below and intentionally capsized the boat as we descended into a slope. Merely for fun to end the ride in a memorable fashion. At this point the river was calmer.

Guides capsizing the boat at the last rapid
The last rapid where the guides intentionally capsized the boat for some laughs!
Source: Image by Xventure Mind

Despite calm waters, we were still safely fastened in our helmets and life jackets. It was a good thing too as we didn’t have much energy left to swim. It was actually very easy, just try to float on your back with your body facing the sky. We finally disembarked at our destination near the river mouth.

This was the most therapeutic moment on this day. The flowing river carried our bodies lazily as we enjoyed the view of the beautiful sky. The lush foliage around us was alive with the chirping of birds and crickets. Soon it was 2:30pm and we had come to the end of our destination. After hours of being on the boat and falling into the rapids, we were hungry. Our adventure package came with a meal of chicken rice and we ate to our heart’s content.

Participants floating on the calm river before the end point
Participants taking their time floating in the calm waters, after the guides had fun capsizing our boats.
Source: Image by Xventure Mind

6. A Memorable Experience Indeed

The operator for river rafting that I chose was Xventure Mind. They have been operating in KKB for eight years now. I casually asked some of the employees how has business been. They stated that, “Since the MCO has been lifted, consistent flocks of people have been coming here for river rafting every weekend.” This is an encouraging sign of good news because people are yearning to breathe in pure air, and to be surrounded by flora and fauna.

According to the owner, Mohd Nassir bin Abd Rashid, 38, he shared with us that we don’t necessarily need to know how to swim to join the river rafting activity. Participants, however, must follow all the instructions and keep the helmet and life jacket on at all times. So for non-swimmers out there, do not fret, you can still join this activity and have a good time.

Xventure Mind will be having a special promotion for Espoletta readers starting from August 2020. Just flash this article to their personnel when you arrive on site and enjoy a special rate of MYR170 (USD40) per person for river rafting.

At the waterfall during our break of river rafting at Kuala Kubu Bharu
Me (left, in purple helmet) and the other participants from the other boats during our break from river rafting. The guide took us to the waterfall to take photos.
Source: Image by Xventure Mind

I Can Finally Check This Off My Bucket List!

Throughout this experience, it seems that rivers are like people. They all have personalities and traits that are particular or peculiar. One river may be gentle and mild, another tough and temperamental. No two rivers, or sections of the same river are alike. Each is different and worthy of exploration. I learnt that when it comes to river rafting, the rafters look forward for rapids and unforgiving falls. The rougher the waters are, the better. It seems that Kuala Kubu Bharu in the heart of Selangor is the lifeblood of extreme thrill seekers. Delivering nourishment and life to the habitat while also providing the best adventurous outdoor activities.

If You Seek Water Adventures, Then Don’t Miss This Unforgettable River Rafting Adventure

A big thank you to Tourism Selangor for approaching Espoletta. Thanks to your initiatives, I have now become an adrenaline junkie and I am looking forward to explore more activities in Selangor! Was I fearful of this river rafting? Yes. Will I ever do it again? Yes and in a heart beat! It was my first time exploring KKB and I have already fallen in love with the area. I will certainly return and do more activities!

Not a fan of the water? Then consider de-stressing yourself to achieve inner peace. Otherwise, come back for the next feature where we will explore different fun activities which involve jumping off a bridge! So stay tuned!

Would you try white water rafting?
Hazwani CHE DIN

About Hazwani CHE DIN

Spent her childhood spread across several countries, Wani truly understands global cultures. Advocates fine art, and organises artisanal bazaar to promote them. What's next? Well, she plans to continue exploring uncharted areas; and continue immersing in and learning foreign cultures.

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