By D’Drift Team
BARAM, March 23: It was the road to Lusong Laku all over again as the D’Drift relived the familiar misery of being on uneven terrain on the way to Long San.
Traumatic memories of the four-hour bull ride to Lusong Laku in D’Drift 2022 haunted the team as we travelled on the logging roads from Lapok to Long San this time.
Long San, one of the many villages in the interior of Baram, was where the D’Drift team’s second target – Fort Long Akah, was situated in.
So, basically, there was no going back.
From Sibu to Bintulu and further up to Beluru, it was the usual ‘Pain Borneo’ misery, with more road diversions and gravel road surfaces compared to the Kuching-Sibu road sections.
Going past Lapok town from the Bakong junction into interior Baram, that was where the tar-sealed road ended.
Google Maps said it would only take two hours to reach Long San, but we knew better that the extremely uneven, bumpy and rocky logging roads would add a few more hours to the tally.
Yusup Labo, one of the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) officers who joined the D’Drift team since last night in Sibu, was crowned the hero of the day.
While the team was overwhelmed by the experience of being thrown around recklessly in the vehicle, Yusup manoeuvred the four-wheel drive skillfully and got the team to the destination safely and within the reasonable timeframe.
The time spent driving on the road from Lapok to Long San was about three and a half hours, but actually, we were stranded halfway for an hour.
Punctured tyre and the man in blue
Yes, one of our tyres was punctured, probably by the sharp rocks on the way, and we had to park by the roadside at about 3.30pm when we were only 45 minutes away from Long San.
The boys began searching the insides of the car for the necessary tools to replace the punctured tyre with the spare.
While the procedure was really simple, the team took up more time than necessary because all of us were unfamiliar with the new car model and its placement of tools within it.
Half an hour went by and the punctured tyre was still there. The boys just could not remove the spare tyre from the bottom of the car no matter how hard they tried.
The girls tried calling for help from Long San and anywhere they could think of, but really, no call ever got through.
In the middle of all the frustration as time ticked by, a pick-up truck stopped and a head poked out from inside. “What happened? Do you guys need help?”
Obviously more experienced than all of us combined, the man, clad in a blue t-shirt alighted and lent us a much-welcome helping hand.
In just a couple of minutes, the punctured tyre was off and the spare tyre was on. The kind man made sure everything was alright before he took off once more, back onto his trip out to Miri.
Now the team was racing against time because the sun was setting. We arrived at Wedgwood Inn, our homestay of the night at 6pm sharp, just in time for a little fort hunt under the evening sun.
Arriving at Fort Long Akah
After storing our belongings at Wedgewood Inn, its manager, Edward Erang, brought us to Fort Long Akah in his boat. The journey started from the backyard of the homestay.
The 10-minute boat ride downriver from Long San was a shaky albeit breezy one.
This once magnificent two-storey wooden building is located at the confluence of the Akah and Baram rivers.
Soon, we could see the fort in the distance, faithfully standing guard over the river as it has for decades now.
When we entered the fort, we couldn’t help but admire how the building’s structure has stood the test of time, as it awaits a day when it will be able to welcome modern-day visitors once the proper maintenance work is done.
It is definitely best to visit the fort earlier during the day or to bring a torchlight if you decide to visit the building in the evening.
Mind your steps as well, as some areas in the jungle are muddy, slippery and lack proper footing; one misstep could spell disaster.
Fort Long Akah, like other Sarawak forts, has a varied history, with many heroic stories and legends being associated with them. However, one may not have heard of Fort Long Akah due to it being built in the remote areas of Sarawak.
Its structure still bears signs of its former functions and glories. This can be seen from the walls with sliding windows which allow cannons to be directed at approaching enemies.
The fort was built in 1929 as the main administrative centre in the area under the government of Charles Vyner Brooke. It was also used to train local men as soldiers to fight the Japanese during the Second World War.
At its height, it was also used as the High Court to settle the disputes of the locals and a trading centre where the locals could conduct barter trade of their jungle produce with traders appointed by the government.
If you want to visit the fort, it is advisable to exercise caution and to visit during the day. — DayakDaily