Dec 13, 2009

The Strange Wave

When a giant of water turns a tranquil of Batang Lupar into a raging monster...

RIVER of Batang Lupar in Sarawak was once known for a lagendary white backed crocodile named Bujang Senang.

The reptile measured as long as a school bus once grasped dozens of lifes during his reigning time before it was killed by local people in the 90's.
Now, after the cursed monster has gone, water in Batang Lupar still shake especially during the the 3th and 18th of Chinese Calendar by the THING called tidal bore.

Local called it Benak, a huge river wave that travel downstream with the speed of 20 km per hour.
Scientist says, this hydodynamic phenomenon happen when sea current collide with the river current creating a massive wave.
The starting point of Batang Lupar tidal bore said to start from Seduku Island that will go up (downstream though) to the Engkelili district with the traveling distance of 30 km, somewhere around 70 km from the opening of South China Sea.

Back in 2007, during our journey back from Miri to Kuching, me and my partner stop somewhere in Sri Aman to catch the famous bore. One of the only six bores in the world.

According to meteorological department, the bore happen almost everyday around 4pm to 6pm during the kingstide season (February to Jun). However under some circumstances, this tidal bore can also become a killer. That is why fishermen are learnt not to touch the river just after noon.
Me and Apai set on the new concrete jetty and we saw a white tiny line on the river's horizon. Some of hundreds that gathered at the riverside started to point their finger to the same direction.
"Benak, benak, benak. It's coming fast now,'' I heard a shout.

In just a matter of moment. The bore reached where we stand, hitting the shores and the rest of wave keep moving.
The jetty where we stand shake and people start screaming about it.

Based from my marking to a wooden structure at the riverbank, I can tell that the water rise no less then 15 feets.
One old fellow near us told, before the concrete jetty was build, a goup of dare devil youngster used to gather on the wooden jetty to feel the shake of the bore.
English writer, Somerset Maugham in his book called The Yellow Streak mentioned how he almost get killed when his boat smashed by the same bore in 1949.
The terrifying incident awarded him the best short stories.
For me, this Benak was one hell of an experience. Nothing like this. So if yo
u guy planning to see one, April is the best time. Benak watching in Sri Aman is now one of the main event in Sarawak Tourism Calendar.
Some information about the tidal bores :

Biggest bore is in Qiantang, China with wave reached the height of 9 meters and speed of 40km /hour.

Severn River in United Kingdom recorded around 250 times of tidal bores a year. The bore attracted hundreds of surfers during it's season.

A powerful Colorado River bore capsized a passenger ship, killing 86 people.

Another famous tidal bore is in Pororoca, Brazil.

Surfers in Pororoca Brazil surfing the tidal bore.

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