NINE Siburan villagers commemorated Sarawak Day on July 22 by riding their below 250cc moped motorbikes from their village in Serian to Mukah.
Eight were pensioners, aged between 60 and 65 years, while leader Ignatius Nibor is 42.
“We’re just a group of kampung mates from Siburan in Serian wanting to commemorate Sarawak Day in our own unique way. As all of us love riding our motorbikes, so we decided to celebrate the day by doing what we love best – motorcycling,” he told thesundaypost.
Dubbed ‘The Pensioners’ Ride’, the journey started from Siburan at 7am on July 20 with the first stop in Sarikei.
“On the first day, we had to go through badly damaged stretches of road along Serian. On top of that, the weather was very hot. The journey was 323km. We reached Sarikei around 2pm and spent the night in a town inn,” Ignatius said, adding that the first day went well despite the bad roads and sweltering heat.
The following day, the 145km journey from Sarikei to Belawai started at 8am. It was about three hours of smooth riding until the Belawai-to-Mukah stretch when one of the bikes ran into engine problems as the group approached the Batang Paloh ferry point.
“One of our friends was having problems with his bike. At that point, we were already about 30km from Tanjung Manis.
“There were no repair shops close by but we kept our calm, trying to figure out a way to get the broken down machine to the nearest garage.
“As leader, I had to find a solution. We would need a lorry or any kind of big transport to bring the motorbike from the ferry to the nearest workshop across Batang Paloh.
“Fortunately, a lorry was waiting to go on the ferry. We negotiated with the driver and he agreed to help with a small tip,” Ignatius recalled.
The motorbike was transported to a repair shop at Kampung Semop. It had a ‘minor’ carburetor problem.
Four river crossings
After getting the motorcycle was fixed, they continued their journey on a tight schedule and it was getting dark by the time they reached Daro town and had to make haste to catch the last ferry across the Batang Igan.
The group had to cross the river to reach Mukah. Without the ferry schedule but not wanting to miss the last crossing, Ignatius asked everyone to speed up.
From Daro to Mukah, they rode in the night.
“The road was really dark and isolated but we thanked God the whole team arrived in Mukah not later than 8pm without any problems,” Ignatius said.
“Actually, the distance wasn’t that far and motorbikes made it easier to manoeuvre out of traffic congestion.
“The thing that made the journey seem long was waiting for the ferries. We crossed four rivers – Batang Rajang, Batang Paloh, Muara Lassa and Batang Igan – on the second day before reaching Mukah.
“It felt like a long journey but the ride was really worth it as we got to see many things along the way. We stopped every time we came across an interesting place or scenery.”
In Tanjung Manis, the group explored its beautiful beach and noticed there were also several homestays there that could help boost tourism in the area.
“I must say the tamu (farmers’ market) in Belawai is a must-visit. We had a good time checking out the local produce and also buying some pineapples, which were sweet and very reasonably priced. Some were as cheap as RM2 each,” Ignatius said.
He added that seeing the wooden shophouses while passing through Daro town made them feel nostalgic. He believes these buildings will keep the heritage of Daro alive.
The following morning on Sarawak Day (July 22), the group woke up early to prepare for their ride back to Siburan. They left Mukah at 7am.
Along the way, they made several stops to soak up the beautiful scenery of the surrounding areas. They had lunch at Farley, a popular stopover for travellers passing through Sibu.
On the return journey, the group took a breather at Selangau junction, Sibu town, Lanang bridge, Jakar, Petronas Ulu Layar Betong, R&R Temudok, Lachau, and Serian.
They reached Siburan around 8pm. It could have been earlier – around 5pm – but they wanted to enjoy the ride and didn’t want to rush.
Ignatius said unlike the ride to Mukah on a hot day, it was raining intermittently on the way the home.
“But that didn’t dampen our spirits. I noticed all the pensioners were enjoying the ride. This wasn’t their first long distance ride. Obviously, they are still very strong and healthy – in fact even healthier than some younger people. They were in high spirits throughout.”
He added that he felt greatly honoured to have had the opportunity to lead pensioners on the expedition, especially when they are all very experienced and skilful bikers.
“I learn a lot from them and would love to organise more similar rides in the future.”
The whole trip was 1,320.3km.
“It was a great way to commemorate Sarawak Day. We had the opportunity to see the many beautiful things of Sarawak while riding our motorbikes,” he added.