Ice cold water splashed through our whole being, shocking and drenching us completely, as our bright red raft attacked the raging waters of the Song Phraek River. With no briefing whatsoever, we were suddenly plunged headlong into a wild ride. Our only lifeline, a rope tethered across the boat and footholds at the bottom of the dinghy.
Thailand’s weather has been uncooperative since yesterday; our day trip to the nearby Phang Nga Bay was marred with scattered rain showers. And it only got worst as we navigated the rubber tree-lined road up to the Phang Nga River Lodge for our whitewater rafting adventure.
It’s the second day for Tigerair Philippines’ media tour of Phuket. The day’s activity had us traveling to the nearby province of Phang Nga again. But this time, we’re gonna be going down a more adventurous route; riding a white water raft, doing an ATV tour, riding a flying fox (whatever that is) and finally, riding an elephant through the province’s jungle.
The rain started to really pour as we arrived at the town of Song Phraek. With the weather worsening, our guide announced that the elephant rides were gonna be called off. Just then, we passed a lumbering giant along the road en route to our destination, seemingly teasing us with the ride we’d be missing.
The trails were just too dangerous, she said. It’s not that the elephants can’t navigate the pathways, but there’s a real danger of the giants slipping on the muddier trails. These wouldn’t be a problem for the beast actually, but we really didn’t want to be on the receiving end of a falling elephant.
With sighs of disappointments, the group alighted at the Phang Nga River Lodge. The rain has abated for the time being and we were able to enjoy the beautiful view of the camp. A dammed area spills into a river ravine right beside the open lodge where we’d be having our lunch.
Lunch consisted of forgettable dishes of fish, pork and veggies. I guess everyone was just raring to try the rampaging waters below. There are free lockers available to secure our belongings and we quickly filled those out with our cameras, change of clothes, slippers, shoes and whatnots.
From the camp, we saw a group of rafters slowly navigating the waterfalls with their rafts in tow. It looked quite dangerous, as one wrong step and you’re probably gonna be black and blue all over with those rocks below. Good thing, we won’t be riding our rafts from that area.
Donning the requisite life vests and helmets, the gang quickly hopped to the far side of the camp where multitudes of rafters are gearing for the river ride. It was a bit of a challenge going down barefoot to the staging area, the rain made the slopes going down the Song Phraek River really slippery.
But everyone finally managed to go down with no mishaps. I thought we were gonna be briefed first, like the first time I rafted down the whitewaters of Kalinga; the basics of balancing, paddling, hauling a downed companion back into the raft and the proper way of navigating the rapids if ever one gets thrown off.
There was absolutely none of that. We immediately pushed into the raging rapids without even a one, two, three.
No paddles were given out; the only thing given to us was the instruction to hold tight to the ropes situated in the middle of the rubber raft.
The water rushed and we faced it head on. The current was very strong since the rain has just fallen, but there was no doubt in our minds regarding the safety of the rafting activity.
Each raft has two local boatmen, one in front and one at the back. Without them, we would probably have capsized within the first minute into the river. They’re quite the chatty bunch, joking along in broken English and splashing water into our faces during the rare times when the water along the river calms down.
The activity area stretches to about five kilometers of scenic riverside, with elephants and locals living their everyday lives along the raging rapids. We hollered and splashed all through out, ducking through tree branches reaching down the river and holding on to the rope for dear life.
It was one heck of a ride that was over much too quickly. It took twenty minutes to navigate the rapids but it felt much much quicker than that.
From the river, we were transported back to the camp where we found out that the ATV and the Flying Fox rides has also been cancelled. We didn’t mind it as much as the cancelled elephant ride, but it’s probably due to the adrenaline still rushing through our veins. Phang Nga’s whitewater rafting rocks! And we want another round!
Phang Nga Rafting Adventure
Tour Group: Khao Lak Adventure, 65/46 Mu 6, T. Kathu, A. Kathu, Phuket, 83120 Thailand
Contact Number: +66 (0) 7632 3603 to 4
+66 (08) 1892 2812
Rates: Click Here
GPS Coordinates: +8° 35' 52.90", +98° 33' 47.05"
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