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Gallery: Borneo, On the Batang Rejang



The Batang Rejang, or Rejang River, at about 560 kilometers, is the longest river in Borneo.  It’s a highway for the movement of people and goods, as well as the logs cut from the rain forests of the interior, making it the means for survival, as well as for the destruction of much that is Borneo.


Setting out from Sibu near the mouth of the river, where it empties into the South China Sea, colored brown with soil freed by logging, express boats ply the river, people inside, freight and luggage on the roof, upstream to the communities of the interior.   Past tributaries and former headhunting longhouse communities as far as Kapit, and in the rainy season when the water is high enough, through the Pelagus Rapids and on to Belaga they go.


Sibu is not a tourist town and accommodations seemed to be either a few high end, high-rise hotels for business travelers to the region, or more local options.  But I saw only the business digs, not my usual choice, but without the inflation of prices for western tourists, the cost of the nicest hotel in town was that of a average guest house elsewhere in Southeast Asia.  So there was nothing to do but submit to the inevitable and stay at the posh high rise.


Having enjoyed the hotel in Sibu and procured our tickets for the express boat that would take us up the mighty Batang Rejang, travel pal Jim and I made our way to the dock at the appointed hour.  Loaded but far from full, always a blessing, it pulled into the current and we made our way first past the outskirts of Sibu, then into obviously logged-out territory, passing scruffy settlements along the way, somehow just what I’d expected when I imagined it.  After some time, the first stop was at Kanowit, where I watched people get off and a few get on with their bundles and bags.  We were going farther up the Rejang River, 3 hours or so to Kapit, which had sounded in my reading like a place I’d like.  And I did.


More travels on the Batang Rejang next Wednesday.






























To follow PortMoresby's series on Borneo, click HERE


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