The first day was dramatic where all capsized in 17 feet waves and 6 nautical miles wind.
There was also alert from the Marine Police preventing us from kayaking at sea. We had to make quick arrangements. The UNIMAS bus was supposed to leave us for expedition but had to follow us along.
We hired a lorry to carry all our 17 kayaks and our vehicles ferried us to a jetty near Kampung Kuala Igan. Tok Hamzah, 65, the village head joined us at the jetty to kayak with us! We were excited to have him lead the team.
Tok Hamzah, a strong and very fit man loved kayaking but has not been kayaking for the last 16 years. We kayaked to Kampung Igan with marine police boat escorting us. The water was still but strong wind blew us to the right as we paddled.
Along the river, on the right side there were many jetties and many people waited for us to kayak by. Young and old alike, sat at the jetties as we passed them. We were paddling slow and waved to them, from 2 to 50 people at every spot. They smiled and waved back at us. At one of the jetties, there were even about 100 villagers.
When reaching Kampung Igan, I was awed by the crowd at the jetty! Over 500 people welcomed us with kompang accompaniment. We had a short speech and did two highest salute to Tok Hamzah and the villagers each. Our highest salute was a salute and singing the national anthem. Tok Hamzah was seen in tears.
I was in tears too, touched by the warmth and hospitality of villagers there.
We then walked to the Lembaga Amanah Kebajikan Islam Igan (LAK II) building as our accommodation. It was opposite the mosque. Once we placed our luggages, we were all sent to Ms Maslinda’s home – she is SPDP supreme council member. She was the lady who has helped us in and out in the Mukah district.
Our dinner menu includes ayam goreng, gulai umbut kelapa, daun sambung nyawa (ulam), ikan kering, daun ubi, dessert and my favourite raw fish dish – umai. This was the best meal I ever had in my life, spiced with the sincerity of villagers and their hospitality.
After dinner, the ladies went to Mak Su and Tok Hamzah’s homes to bathe (we divide the girls into 2 groups). When we went back to LAK II the villagers were BBQ-ing chickens for us!
We chat with the villagers till midnight before we call it a day! Kampung Igan, a place to remember.

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