Very Late Night Paddle
had wanted to go for a toilet break since we started paddling at around
5am. He reminded me again at Sai Yok but I forgotten to stop. Ee were
so rush for time today that we had not landed or stop paddling. As
we found out the river was meandering wildly, and making estimation
of distance difficult. I had estimated a flow speed of 5km/hr and
a paddle speed at 10km/hr. By that estimate we should have covered
quite a distance since we started, but the GPS still showed that we
had only covered 30km with 60km more to go.
was true we would have to paddle till midnight to reach our stop point
for the day !
Finally at 6pm JB exploded.
called out to JB and said to him again, that we might have to paddle
into the night to make up for the distance. But I left the door open
for an early night if we happened to find a boat house.
last night.", I said.
want lights, rooms, proper toilet. I am not cooking tonight."
JB was firmly in his seat.
we need to have a cut-off...", I tried to reason but was cut
don't care if we paddle until midnight to find proper accommodation.
We had decided to paddle at night, so lets not do things halfway.",
JB replied in egoistical defence.
had eaten the whole day was a few bars of chocolate and a smoked coconut.
We were both edgy. Such arguments were familiar to me. Chan and myself
used to have such arguments, but we had developed an understanding
of the meaning of 'doing distance'. This was really the first time
I am paddling with JB and doing distance. The truth was that we needed
to paddle 90km today, and this could only be done by disciplined paddling.
1 hour paddle 5 minutes break, and repeating this cycle until we got
the distance covered.
case we should have stopped for a toilet break or lunch or dinner,
and that was my fault since I had planned today's long route. So I
went along with his plan as a sign of apology.
The Moonlite Path - We followed the glow of moonlight reflected
off the water during our night paddle. We were constantly worried
that we might fall over a waterfall ! photo:
night was cold. There was little wind. As we paddled swarms of insects
hit our faces like rain. So many of them must be flying around in
darkness we could not see. Sometimes they just stick to the sunblock
lotion on our faces. I was lazy to stop paddling and swiped them off.
For the first time I wished my face had the folds and wrinkles to
bump them, instead I catatonically tried to shake or blow them off
that moonlight was so important for night paddling. No moon and we
would simply not see a thing. Tonight a crescent moon gave a good
enough glow to create a shinning pathway on the river, separated by
the shadows of trees. In this way we paddled along, my eyes focused
on avoiding paddling into the shadows of the trees. We slithered with
the river on Kanchanaburi land.
moments, my thoughts were on what my friend said to me when he heard
I was paddling down river kwai.
lot of people died there leh..", he told me.
250, 000 was the figure given by wikipedia on their article on the
death railway. We did not hear any wailing of their souls on the river.
In the distance we sometimes heard bursts of gunfire, as this would
be about the region where the Singapore military do part of their
far the most bizarre sound we heard was the blasts of karaoke music
breaking the immaculate silence of the night. Extremely loud music
was being pumped from some unknown stations. We were cold and hungry
and the music, however bad, was like callings to a better night. We
quickened our pace as the music reached ear-splitting level, but we
could not see the source. Suddenly a male voice strained above the
music, cried out in a terrible forlornness for and of love. And all
living things shuddered.
could we stay tonight? JB had rejected an abandoned boat house. On
another occasion I had scampered up the bank to check out a tycoon's
house, which came complete with a gazebo of fluffy pillows and drinks.
There were no one around…and we had thought of just borrowing
it for one night. Afterall we were in rich-land. Some big houses were
obviously partying Saturday night away. Perhaps they wanted some exotic
guests to spice up their parties? I pulled alongside one, was politely
told it was a private party, and adviced that they might be some accommodation,
somewhere in the darkness infront. If we were just paddled along now.
pushed on again. JB followed the lightstick on my kayak. I paused
for a drink and light snack. We must find something soon or we will
paddle for the whole night. I asked for the time.
Thai time.", JB said indifferently.
dark, hungry, with no lights in sight, and paddling for the past 16
hours without land rest, I wondered how this night was going to end.