Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Perak River Expedition

Upon coming back from the Kelantan River Expedition [ (here) June 02, 2010 posting 'In The Nick of Time' ( 2 ) ]I heard that OP Maniam and Seng Lim were already planning something similar. This time it would be the Perak River Expedition. They had planned it for the week during the term-break from the 13th till 20th April 1963. It was a white water rafting from Chenderoh Dam in the upper reaches of the Perak River to Telok Anson ( now known as Teluk Intan )

OP Maniam suggested that I join in, considering my experiences just a few weeks back in Kelantan. I also had harboured the intention of joining in as well, as it was fun. The sun-burnt nape of my neck had healed by then so I thought why not?. I may even be called upon to give some useful pointers which eventually I did. This came about when we were discussing on the positioning of the paddle. Many had thought it should be by the side akin to paddling as in a sampan but I had told them otherwise (more of this later)

The 2 Officers who accompanied us this time were Capt A.C. Loone and Fl Lt McKennon
( an academic who taught us Geography fondly known as Milk ) He was such a likeable guy, a chain smoker. There was an occasion while we were cooking he came by. He playfully offered me a cigarette ( knowing fully well we were not allowed to smoke ) I had whimsically retorted back, 'Thanks, sir, but that's not my brand' ( to the amusement of everyone, OP Maniam laughing the most )

Capt Loone was a soldier's officer who knew everyone by their first name. He made you at ease with his presence. There was never a dull moment with him around.

In view of the many photos uploaded this time, the narration will be substantially reduced. Instead this is going to be a pictorial essay of sorts.

Amidst some foolery on board the 2nd class coach : This was en-route from K.Lumpur Railway Station to Taiping Station. From Left: OPs Osman Khan, Maniam and Hank

Kamunting Camp Taiping: Loading rations on board the 3-tonners ( military trucks) In organising our expeditions in the RMC we had the advantage of military logistics provided for us. We were given train warrant tickets to and fro, military transport pick-ups from Taiping Station to Kamunting Camp, Sauk and Chenderoh Dam and military rations for the whole river journey.

At Sauk ( 3 miles from Chenderoh Dam ): OP Maniam giving last minute instructions on what to do with the bamboos. The bamboos were already felled for us by villagers in Sauk through the kind offices of the Officer-in-Command of Kamunting Camp. We needed then to await for military transport to load them to be brought to Chenderoh Dam.
( Sauk if you remember was where the 'weapons-snatching' incident happened )

Chenderoh Dam : Unloading the bamboos one by one from the trucks. From Left: OPs Malik Abdullah ( Dr,deceased) Andrew Hooi, Hank and Ng Mee Ken (deceased)
Dr Malik was a brilliant scholar, a voracious reader in his school days ( we were dorm-mates ) He had won many academic accolades during his medical studies but whose young life ended sudden and tragic ( The late Dr Malik sadly died in a freak car accident in Johore Bharu in the 70's)

Collecting Soft-wood From the Nearby Forests to Reinforce the Bamboos. Chenderoh Dam in the distance ( hidden from view)

The More the Merrier - Building the 2 Rafts: We spent a few days,I cannot recollect how many days ( Unlike in Kelantan, OP Wan Ghani had organised the building of the 2 rafts before we arrived. We just had to hop in and off we went within the hour of arrival at Manek Urai)

The Bottom Frame Being Lowered into the Water.

Something Fishy? Yes! Someone ( not from among us, apparently some villagers ) had planted sticks of dynamite upstream and we were looking around to catch some of the stunned fishes that came downstream.

Chow time - Cooking our meals in mess-tins. From Left : OPs Hank, Bakar Sulaiman and Cpl Mat ( one of the PTI's ) There were other soldiers also from Kamunting Camp who helped us with the raft construction but didn't accompany us.

We Were All Set - Fixing up the Ponchos For Shelter ( Notice the Life-Jackets Hung over the Poles ) It was at this point that the paddles were fixed at both ends. They act as rudders to push the rafts to either sides so as to avoid obstacles ( they were not meant for paddling as some of them thought)

U-Boat Surfacing? - The Sad Condition of the First Raft.

Stopover at Mid-stream ( Fl Lt McKennon standing on extreme right)

Kuala Kangsar, Thursday morning, April 18th, 1963. OP Hank at the Second Raft ( the 1st Raft in the background)

The Lower Course, the Last Night along the River Bank. From Left OPs Pathma, Cpl Mat and OP Hank (packing up in the morning of April 19th) We had stopped and camped out on the river banks for the nights.( unlike in Kelantan where we cooked on the rafts and never stopped along the way )

'Abandon Raft'
- 3 miles from Telok Anson: We clambered on board the River Boat as the tide was coming in. Our rafts were stranded in the middle of the estuary. We were not moving. We had called the boat ( which was passing by ) to come and rescue us. There were nearly 20 of us hanging on to dear life ( as you can see, the boat seems to be tilting to the right in the photo ) There were other passengers. We were plain lucky there was just enough space to cling onto even. I just wonder what would have happened had there been no boat passing by then, phew!

Discarded Old Faithful: A forlorn sight of the raft left abandoned. It was drifting upstream pushed by the tide.

Telok Anson :OP Zubir's mom had allowed us to freshen up at the school where she was then the Headmistress. OP Zubir's dad had a hand in getting the Chartered Mini-Bus for us to take us to Tapah Road Railway Station.From Left: OPs Hank, OP Zubir's brother,OPs Pathma, late Dr Malik, Tan, Teng, Ismail, Zubir, Fl Lt McKennon, Seng Lim, En Rauf (OP Zubir's father) Andrew, Capt Loone (at the rear) Cpl Mat,Zubir's brother, Soo, Osman and Maniam ( some of those at the rear couldn't be identified)

Tapah Road Railway Station...and we were going home! From Left : Capt Loone ( later Col) OPs Tan, Bakar, Maniam, Pathma, Soo and Hank


Al-Manar said...

Dear Hank
Somehow black-and-white pictures give me so much pleasure to look at. You have so many to make a story of them so arranged.

kaykuala said...

Dear Pakcik,
Thanks. It rekindled fond memories for me too. ( though some of them had seen better days )

abdulhalimshah said...

Dear Hank,
You should have joined the RMN, just by looking at the past rafting stories, then you would have a wife at every port, hahahaha...

kaykuala said...

Dear Hal,
None of those in the Perak River Exp'n joined the Navy. I don't remember if any of them did. None seemed interested to be in water after experiencing the journey maybe. Now, wait a minute! Maybe OP Pathma. Not exactly the Navy.
Apparently he operated some South Seas operations and was rumoured as having boats and making himself look and act like a buccaneer - extending the adventure spirit. Don't know if it is true and if he is still at it.