23-Oct-2006 -- In this part of the world (Sarawak)there are no maps available to non-government personnel, which makes Confluence Point hunting a state-of-the-art skill with GPS and compass. Even when you find roads or trails on your route you never know where they are going.
On the first day we drove along old logging roads and oil palm plantation tracks, our directions being given by local residents/workers. We eventually reached Rumah Kabing, parked the 4W-drive and started hiking along some old logging trails. After a few misleading divergences we decided to attempt to "bee-line" it through the secondary jungle. The going was tough with the old man and his son cutting/hacking our way through the underbrush. After a couple of hours of compass following and infrequent GPS readings, we came to the Belaga river. This 'dampened' our spirits, it was too wide, too swift and too deep to cross. We tracked back to Rumah Kabing to look for a boat... no boat available - Sorry. Result - Try an alternative attack tomorrow.
I remembered that the Google Earth pics had shown a logging trail crossing the river Belage some kilometres South. This was confirmed in the evening by our Longhouse hosts, saying there was an old wooden bridge still used by the logging company.
Day 2. Started with a drive to the logging camp and explaining to the manager about the Degree Confluence Project. After some hesitation and then encouragement, in the local dialect by our hosts, he decided to allow us into the logging area. This is very sensitive issue to logging companies, allowing foreigners into their areas.
Once again with no maps it was a case of hit and miss which logging roads to take. Eventually after three hours of hiking over mountains and following old trails we were close enough to start cutting our way into the jungle. This proved an even harder task than yesterday, the re-growing jungle was much thicker. Although we were getting closer and closer to the C.P. the going was very slow and time consuming, we were getting worried about darkness falling. We decided to not risk being left in the jungle overnight, so turned about and back-tracked to the car.
This took 2.5 hours. On reaching the car and it still being light we decided to check out some more logging roads. This we did, and came across a small track that took us quite close to the C.P. By close I mean about 1.5 Km. We also noticed that at the side of this track there was a water pipe coming down off the mountain from the general direction that we needed to go. That would be our plan for the next day. A water pipe usually means a maintenance trail next to the pipe. Hopefully less cutting would be required.
Day 3 was an early start from the Longhouse and another drive through the logging camp. This time the gate man let us through with a smile and a wave.
We made our way to the water pipe and headed off into the jungle, (uphill of course). Initially the going was easy, but as we climbed the jungle seemed to get thicker and thicker. The pipe led to a small dam in the stream. From there it was cutting time again, but this time to make it easier we decided to follow the stream, heading in the general direction of the C.P., but naturally it soon led off in the wrong direction. Back to compass, GPS (when cover allowed it and the 'parang' (a machete type knife))As we were climbing it was now noticeable that the overhead canopy was getting thinner and the GPS signal better. Sudden bleeping on the GPS indicated we were close. Another ten minutes and we were almost on the point, in a small clearing with blue skies above us. We rested and discussed our position. We were spot on for the North degree but needed about 50 meters further West for the East degree. Unfortunately the growth and trees to the West was very thick and although we could have cut our way through we believed we would lose the satellite signal, so decided to accept our present position as the point. The required photographs were taken, biscuits and drinks consumed. We then set-off back down the mountain to the car.
Once back on the main logging road we noticed a sign for a Longhouse, saying "Welcome to Headman Nyalang of Rumah Long Koyan" this longhouse was much nearer to the C.P. than Rumah Kabing, and on the right side of the river. We decided to visit the longhouse and take bearings. (N 03 deg. 00.294' and E 113 deg. 59.756'). We then we drove back to Sg. Asap shops. Exhausted, very thirsty, (see photo) but thankful that we had finally found the confluence point.
Rested and recouperated we returned to our Longhouse.
Next day we packed the car and everyone returned to Miri.