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Thursday May 11, 2006

Up close with Sungai Pahang

The usual eight-day rafting expedition down Sungai Pahang was reduced to five days but the over 1,000 adults and children were still able to feast their eyes on beautiful scenery as they traversed down the river and enjoyed traditional food and culture when they stopped overnight at selected villages. 

Previously, the expedition took off from Sungai Jelai in Lipis, as this place is popularly known as the starting point of Sungai Pahang. But this year, the journey began at Lurah Semantan in Temerloh. 

The expedition provided participants with fun and a little drama, especially for one team that lost control of its raft and struck a bridge pillar near Temerloh. They continued their journey on another raft after they were rescued. 

The rafts stationed in the stop in Kampong Chenor after a day’s journey.
State Culture, Arts, Tourism and Family Development and Women’s Affairs Committee chairman Datuk Maznah Mazlan, who was present at the flag off, said one of the objectives of the expedition was to provide a means for state leaders including royalty to spend time with the people. 

Tengku Mahkota Pahang Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, who flagged-off the participants, also tried his hand at rafting. On board the bamboo raft with him was his wife Tengku Puan Pahang Tengku Azizah Maimunah Iskandariah Sultan Iskandar. 

Tengku Azizah, who spent much of her time capturing photographs of the landscape from the raft as it went down the river, also tried her hand at rowing. 

A raft decorated with the Jalur Gemilang.
Earlier in his speech, Tengku Abdullah expressed his concern over the impact of development on Sungai Pahang, which was the main mode of communication and transport in the old days. 

“This main source of water for the people should be protected from the threat of toxic and other harmful waste. 

A traditional dance performed by the Tamab Budaya Pahang dancers to entertain participants.
“What else can we leave for our future generations if our rivers are badly polluted? 

“All parties must work together and help the authorities safeguard our rivers and Sungai Pahang is no exception,” he said. 

When the expedition stopped at Kampung Serengkam, Maran, for the night, the participants were joined by Sultan Pahang Sultan Ahmad Shah. 

Sultan Ahmad flagged-off the participants early the next morning in the next stage of the expedition which took them to Kampung Ganchong in Pekan. 

Besides locals, the expedition attracted participation from government agencies, private firms, non-governmental organisations, students and foreigners. 

Sultan Ahmad meeting expedition participants.
Several foreign rafters came from Singapore and as far as Argentina, South Korea and Japan. 

At the closing ceremony held at the royal town of Pekan, Tengku Azizah gave out awards in several categories.  

While the Anugerah Tok Bahaman (for overall best raft) was won by Pasukan Gerak Am Briged Tenggara, Institut Latihan Perindustrian Kuantan won the Anugerah Mat Kilau (best student participation), Kampung Serengkam took the Anugerah Wali Nong Sari (best stop station) and Kampung Chenor was awarded the Anugerah Dulang Beradat (best village food). 

Other awards included Anugerah Teja (best decorated raft), Anugerah Keringat Emas (best 15 rafters) and Anugerah Gegak Gempita (most happening stop station).  


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