Baram River: Express boats go down, crocodiles come up (Travelogue Day 4)

A boat spotted passing through the Baram River.

By D’Drift Team

MARUDI, Mar 25: With fewer boats plying the Baram River these days, it’s no wonder the crocodile population in Marudi delights in shocking and frightening its human neighbours, especially those who live in riverside villages.

As a member of the D’Drift Team was capturing images and video of the serene-appearing Baram River, a quinquagenarian couple, Wilson Freni Affrin, 57, and Jennifer Awe, 56, approached and remarked that the river has become too quiet in recent years due to a decline in river traffic.

There followed an enjoyable discussion about how the Baram River was once bustling with express boats, sampans (wooden boats), and other water vehicles, how the couple, both of whom are teachers, once had to rely on water vehicles when they were stationed in Baram, and how the river is now much quieter, which may be the cause of more crocodiles being spotted around villages, especially longhouses.

A tower overlooking the Baram River at the new Marudi waterfront.

Devoted educators who travelled the Baram River for decades

“We’re both teachers who teach at Long Palai in Marudi, so when we have official duties here, we usually travel by boat because there weren’t many roads open for land transportation back then.

“Even though roads have been opened, we can still not reach Long Palai and must rely on boats.

“Now it is far too quiet. I can still picture the many express boats plying the Baram River, carrying people and goods up and down the river,” Wilson said.

He said that as new roads are built over time, more people are choosing to travel by land.

Wilson, who joked that he is from “Long Kuching”, said that his first posting in Marudi was in 1992 or 1993 and that in 1994, most people opted to use land transportation instead of the waterways.

He also said that boats are still the only means of transportation to reach some of the most remote villages.

Jennifer, who is from Long Moh, added, “Even the crocodiles were scared by the express boats that travelled up and down the Baram River back then.

“Since the river no longer sees regular boat traffic, crocodiles have taken to ‘lepak’ (chill) near the local villages.”

Jennifer (third left), Wilson (second right), and D’Drift Team pose for a photo.

Fort Hose, once open, is bound to be a major draw for tourists and history buffs

After a restful night in our hotel in Miri, D’Drift Team awoke early this morning to search for the ‘Fort of the Day’, Fort Hose, located in Marudi, a small riverside town in northern Sarawak.

Our journey from Miri to Marudi took approximately an hour and 48 minutes, including the ferry ride, and we are grateful that we no longer had to endure the excruciating car ride that we had endured for the previous two days.

As 11am rolled around, the temperature in Marudi was sweltering. We were looking forward to learning about the history of Fort Hose when we got there, but it was closed.

When we asked the workers who were resting there, they said it wasn’t open to the public yet, but it might be launched alongside the waterfront this year.

Unfortunately, nobody could tell us more about the fort’s history. However, we may return once the fort is open to the public.

Fort Hose

Fort Hose, poised to be Marudi’s most popular tourist attraction, sits atop a hill overlooking the Baram River and is linked to the new Marudi Waterfront.

The fort was constructed with Belian hardwood, which was extremely durable, and it is still in good condition today.

When we arrived, we observed that several groups of visitors had already made their way to the fort, where they remained and took pictures despite the fort being closed.

When Fort Hose finally opens, it’s bound to be a major draw for tourists and history buffs.

The side view of Fort Hose.

Additionally, there are some good food to try in Marudi, such as the Marudi Kway Teow and the Roti Marudi from a popular kopitiam in town, Jong Seng Loong Cafe.

When we met Marudi assemblyman Datuk Dr Penguang Manggil, who is also Sarawak Deputy Minister for Public Health, Housing, and Local Government (Local Government), he also recommended we try the Roti Marudi at the kopitiam.

Marudi Kway Teow
Penguang (first right) with the D’Drift Team having a tea break at Jong Seng Loong Cafe.

A recap of the past three days

In the past three days, we have discovered Fort Margherita in Kuching, Fort Long Akah in Long San, and Fort Lio Mato in Kampung Lio Mato en route from Kuching to Baram. Today, we located Fort Hose.

We remain committed and determined to explore the other right forts that lie await our arrival. — DayakDaily