A salty post-funeral cleansing ritual (Travelogue Day 5)

A Balingian chap captured in mid-flight as he jumps into the river.

By D’Drift Team

NIAH, Oct 15: Kids have always been told to shower after visiting the cemetery, but these big kids from Balingian have decided to take a dive into the Balingian River for their ‘shower’.

During our leisure tour around Balingian town yesterday (Oct 14), D’Drift Team spotted a man leaping into the air before plummeting into the river, and were shocked for a second.


We quickly stopped in our tracks to check out what was happening. At one of the jetties along the river, four young men were taking turns jumping into the water, and they just kept coming back for more. Each time one would take a dive, another would emerge from the river and climb back up to the dive point.

Their whoops, hoots, and hollers did not stop even as we approached to take pictures. In fact, they started lining up, striking all sorts of creative poses as they had their fun, as if we were spectators to their evening performance.

A D’Drift Team member (far right) chatting with the swimmers as they rest on the platform.

They later explained that they had been to the cemetery to attend a relative’s funeral, so jumping into the river was a way to wash away any bad omens attracted at the graveyard.

Yes, they could have just taken a normal shower, but the weather was blazing hot, and the Balingian River was just there, in their backyard, so why not — where’s the fun in normal showers, right?

Obviously, they were having a good time even though the water was really salty as the Balingian River diverges from the South China Sea.

There was one moment when one of the four climbed up to the platform, his face scrunched up from tasting the overwhelmingly salty river water as he blurted out: “masin” (salty). But seconds later, he was back in the water again with his other partners in crime.


Attn to: Palm oil tree lovers ONLY

Travellers, if you’re planning a trip that involves riding on Sarawak’s coastal road a lot like the D’Drift Team, I’m sure you’ll grow used to seeing seemingly endless stretches of palm oil trees along the way.

At 9am this morning, we took off from Bintulu to Niah and palm oil trees could be seen on both sides of the road most of the time, including lorries and trucks carrying loads of palm fruits.

To be honest, palm oil trees and palm fruits were the only scenery of the day.

Occasionally along the way, there would also be palm oil mills that could be easily spotted through their signages stating the daily palm fruit prices they are offering. The prices today ranged from RM930 to RM970 per tonne.

The lush greenery of palm oil tree plantations along Jalan Coastal Bintulu-Miri.

It was at about 10.27am when our pickup was forced to stop as one section of the Jalan Pesisir Bintulu-Miri was under construction. Like a ferry point, we had to wait for a few minutes before it was the turn for vehicles on our end of the road to pass.

Two traffic-controlling workers (one was smart enough to carry an umbrella) were positioned on each end of the road, holding handmade poles with red ‘STOP’ and green ‘GO’ signs written on each side.

By the time it was our turn to pass, the pole was simply turned to show the ‘green light’, like a manual traffic light without the yellow ‘SLOW’ indicator.

Red ‘STOP’ (left) and green ‘GO’ (right) signs manned by a worker.

The temporary construction works there were mainly to repair road sections with holes due to frequent trips made by heavy machinery to and from the nearby palm oil tree plantations.

No worries there as the slow traffic due to bad road conditions only occurred on a small stretch of the road. The rest of our journey was smooth and uninterrupted until we arrived at our inn for the night at 11.27am.


‘Udang galah’ alert – not for those with prawn allergies

The clock struck 12 as the D’Drift Team reached Soon Pheng Cafe here, eager to fill our empty tummies with Niah’s giant freshwater prawns (‘udang galah’).

Three of us ordered ourselves each a ‘mee goreng basah’, ‘laksa’, and ‘mee goreng basah tomato’, of course with giant prawn toppings. The giant prawns are available with two options, fresh (‘hidup’) or frozen. We went for fresh ones, with little hesitation.

The dishes came a little later than the usual waiting times, but it was worth it. Huge bowls with huge prawns were served, but our cameras had their fill of snapping photos first despite our growling, grumbling stomachs.

A feast fit for kings and queens is served, with large freshwater prawns as the highlight of every dish. 

The fried noodles and laksa were standard fare, but oh — the giant prawns were indeed bursting with flesh that was fresh, sweet, and tender.

There was no way you could savour a giant prawn properly without getting your hands dirty, so don’t even think about getting away with clean paws here.

All of us gave up trying to eat neat and dug into our dishes. But if you’re a clean freak, fret notl there are sinks with soaps available at the cafe.

After lunch, the D’Drift Team wandered for a bit around Niah and Bekenu (a half-an-hour drive away from Niah). At about 4.50pm, we called it a day and settled our cozy inn.

From Niah, our adventure will continue on to new, daring destinations, but for now, our stomachs filled and curiosity satisfied, we called it a night. — DayakDaily

Related articles:

Travelogue, Day 1 – Beliong dragons trapped in cages for 6 years and counting

Travelogue, Day 2 – Headless coconut ‘pillars’ of Maludam

Travelogue, Day 3 – Pan Borneo Fury 1060 – ‘best’ coaster ride in Sarawak Theme Park

Travelogue, Day 4 – Spooky Mukah: Hanging coffins, burial totems and human sacrifices