fbpx asd
    • Spring
      • video

        Finding the Flow from Kansai to Kochi

        Shikoku’s many mountains, valleys and proximity to the ocean has made it a hidden gem for rafting, kayaking and canyoning enthusiasts willing to take a step or two further from the Golden Route of Kyoto and Osaka.

        Solace and Giant Salamanders in Akiota

        Just beyond Hiroshima City is a tranquil outdoor destination home to some of Japan's last remaining oosanshouo, the elusive giant salamander.
        Kyoto Oni Trail Outdoor Japanvideo

        The Oni Trail: Hiking Coastal Kyoto

        The mystical oni is prevalent in Japanese children’s stories, usually as a way to scare kids straight. Adventure Travel Kyoto is shedding a new light on this folklore and developing a new hiking route in the countryside of Kyoto.
    • Summer
      • the nomad pasche family

        The World is Our Playground

        The Pasche family has been cycling and living out of a tent in remote corners of the planet for the past 13 years on four continents spanning 50 countries.
        adventure travel world summit in hokkaido

        Adventure Travel World Summit in Hokkaido

        The ATTA will host their first Adventure Travel World Summit in Asia in Hokkaido, Japan. We caught up with ATTA Director Shannon Stowell to find out more about the adventure travel industry and how it continues to grow and evolve.
        mead brewing in japan

        The Sweet Secrets of Brewing Mead

        Wander into the world of mead brewing and find yourself immersed in a fascinating journey spanning centuries and continents.
        the knights in white lycra

        The Knights in White Lycra

        Each year a group of cyclists head to the deep north towards Tohoku’s vast rice fields and coastal trails to help transform the lives of neglected children.
        sea to table yamagata

        Sea to Table in Yamagata

        An unforgettable way to intimately explore the Shonai Region in Yamagata is a culinary experience bringing bounty of the sea straight to your table.
    • Autumn
    • Winter
      • camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
        ainu tour daniel moore outdoor japan hokkaido

        Heritage Hunting in Hokkaido

        Travelers venturing beyond Hokkaido's popular winter resorts will discover a land with a rich cultural and natural history, a proud indigenous people and a community striving to preserve their heritage.
        shizukuishi skiing snowboarding outdoor japan

        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
    • Near Tokyo
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Near Kyoto
      • Kumano’s Path Less Traveled

        A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

        Protecting the Sacred Trees of Koya-san

        Within the misty mountains of Japan's Kii Peninsula, Koya-san (Mt. Koya), stands as a sacred realm of tranquility, history, and spiritual significance. This awe-inspiring mountain has been revered for centuries and is home to a unique collection of trees known as the rokuboku, or The Six Trees of Koya-san.
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • River and Lake
      • ainu tour daniel moore outdoor japan hokkaido

        Heritage Hunting in Hokka...

        Travelers venturing beyond Hokkaido's popular winter resorts will discover a land with a rich cultural and natural history, a proud indigenous people and a community striving to preserve their heritage.
        getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Snow and Ice
      • camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
        shizukuishi skiing snowboarding outdoor japan

        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
        togari onsen outdoor japan

        Northern Shinshu’s Secret Stash

        A weak yen, revenge travel, and excellent ski conditions have led to high demand, booking out popular resorts like Hakuba and Nozawa Onsen this year. Fortunately, lesser-known gems like Togari Onsen, near Nozawa Onsen and Madarao, offer charming alternatives for powder seekers.
    • Travel
      • Okinawa’s Blue Zone —A Lifestyle for Longevity...

        Dan Buettner’s bestseller, “Blue Zones,” which was also adapted into a hit series on Netflix, identifies five regions with a high number of centenarians. One of these zones is Yambaru, in the north of Okinawa Island. A rich cultural and natural heritage remain in this region, holding the secret to the longevity of the communities living there.

        Kumano’s Path Less Traveled

        A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

        Okinawa Forest Adventure

        Holiday-goers lounging on Onna’s white sand beaches are no doubt unaware of what’s going on high in the jungle as creatures climb above the forest canopy and zip or swing from tower to tower. Curious travelers will discover a new side of Okinawa’s tropical paradise if they take the leap into a Forest Adventure.

        Ryukyu’s Mountain Turtles – Interview wi...

        Okinawa attracts hordes of travelers to its sandy beaches and warm, clear water with divers and snorkelers often posting images of the majestic local sea turtles. The interior forest and rivers, however, are home to another Okinawa turtle also in need of protection—the small, reclusive, but equally beautiful, yamagame.

        Protecting the Sacred Trees of Koya-san

        Within the misty mountains of Japan's Kii Peninsula, Koya-san (Mt. Koya), stands as a sacred realm of tranquility, history, and spiritual significance. This awe-inspiring mountain has been revered for centuries and is home to a unique collection of trees known as the rokuboku, or The Six Trees of Koya-san.
    • Food and Drinks
      • Okinawa’s Blue Zone —A Lifestyle for Longevity...

        Dan Buettner’s bestseller, “Blue Zones,” which was also adapted into a hit series on Netflix, identifies five regions with a high number of centenarians. One of these zones is Yambaru, in the north of Okinawa Island. A rich cultural and natural heritage remain in this region, holding the secret to the longevity of the communities living there.

        Kumano’s Path Less Traveled

        A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

        Okinawa Forest Adventure

        Holiday-goers lounging on Onna’s white sand beaches are no doubt unaware of what’s going on high in the jungle as creatures climb above the forest canopy and zip or swing from tower to tower. Curious travelers will discover a new side of Okinawa’s tropical paradise if they take the leap into a Forest Adventure.

        Ryukyu’s Mountain Turtles – Interview wi...

        Okinawa attracts hordes of travelers to its sandy beaches and warm, clear water with divers and snorkelers often posting images of the majestic local sea turtles. The interior forest and rivers, however, are home to another Okinawa turtle also in need of protection—the small, reclusive, but equally beautiful, yamagame.

        Protecting the Sacred Trees of Koya-san

        Within the misty mountains of Japan's Kii Peninsula, Koya-san (Mt. Koya), stands as a sacred realm of tranquility, history, and spiritual significance. This awe-inspiring mountain has been revered for centuries and is home to a unique collection of trees known as the rokuboku, or The Six Trees of Koya-san.
    • Races and Events
      • sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.

        Winter News and Notes

        Check out the latest news and winter events held at ski resorts all over Japan in 2024!
        dd4d brewing

        DD4D Brewing

        In nearly e...

Sarawak Blues

Approximately 600 kilometers from Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur, among the vast equatorial rainforests of Borneo in the state of Sarawak, lies the capital of Kuching. The Sarawak River flows through the city where I traveled to visit an old friend years and test its waters.

Speaking swiftly, Kenny Lin suggested, “I got a hold of my younger brother’s Jet-ski and, since you’re leaving the day after tomorrow, why don’t we take a cruise down river tomorrow to check conditions? What do you think?”

I had already begun to regret the decision I was being forced to make. “Why did I bring this up?” I thought. “And how am I going to get out of it?”

I mentioned wanting to kayak down river, but leaving the small village to head to the river mouth on an obnoxiously loud, gas spewing, oil dripping Jet-ski was not what I had planned. My mind raced as I considered my reply. Why doesn’t he understand? If he wants to really go through with this, then perhaps I should just drop the whole idea.

I had contacted an old friend, Kelvin Tam, living in Kuching right in the heart of Borneo’s equatorial rainforests. My plan was to bring a folding kayak from Japan and paddle the length of the Sarawak, which flows through the middle of the city but starts in the village of Panenpat near the border with Indonesia.

According to Kelvin, the road to the village was more than his Honda could handle, but he suggested asking his friend Kenny, who worked at a car factory and had a four-wheel drive vehicle, to take me there.

“There’s not a car like this in Sarawak, maybe in all of Borneo,” bragged Kenny as he cut the engine on his Toyota jeep with waist-high tires. Even though he said “four-wheel drive,” I wasn’t expecting this monster.

“Is this really necessary?” I thought. When in Rome, right? I figured I might as well trust him, although this was before he started in with his Jet-ski plan.

Fortunately, though, things changed the next day as Kenny told me his brother informed him the upstream areas were too shallow for Jet-skis. I was happy to hear my desire to leisurely enjoy the sights along the river wouldn’t be ruined by a sneak peak on a Jet-ski.

I put together the kayak on one of Panenpat’s sandbars, packing my sleeping bag, stove and assorted camping gear along with food and a considerable amount of drinking water. Kenny had to get back to work, and so he and two of his fellow Kuching Jeep Club members hit the road, leaving me alone on the quiet banks of the Sarawak. After some effort, I finished packing the canoe and made final preparations.

I floated the kayak into the water and began my paddle from Panenpat’s small sandbar with playful excitement and a pleasantly cool wind. The clear water revealed the grains of sand sparkling in hues of gold as they floated with the stream. From the trees masking the sky, I heard the calls of tropical birds and, after I passed several rapids, the next village came into view.

Through the center of this unmapped village a large wooden bridge extended high above the water and crossed to the other side. Along the riverside children played in the water. Adults riding in longboats looked curiously at my kayak and kindly asked from where I was paddling.

According to the map, there were 15 villages I would pass on the way to Kuching, each echoing with the sounds of children playing along the river’s banks. As I was leaving each village those sounds faded, and I made my way deeper into the forest where only the trickling of water and screeches of birds could be heard. As the sun began to set, I brought my kayak up onto the banks just downstream from Cambon (village) Boyan and set up my tent.

I was preparing dinner on the dry riverbed and had just placed the pot on the portable stove when two dark-skinned men wearing T-shirts paddled in from upstream without a sound. They bobbed up and down as they worked their oars and, although no pleasantries were exchanged, I thought I noticed the man in front turn his squinted white eyes toward me. The forest was already dark and, as I looked down to check if the water was boiling, the two men disappeared into the darkness. Was it was a dream or reality? I still don’t know.

That night I would also face some adversity. I was fast asleep contently wrapped in my sleeping bag, when I awoke to the sound of water lapping at the sides of the tent. The river tide had risen, and water was coming in under the tent. My first reaction was, “What the @!#&!” I unzipped the tent and made my way outside in my underwear.

Perhaps as a result of an afternoon squall, the tent was now in the water and the small riverbank grew even smaller. I pulled the tent and kayak up to what little dry ground was left and spent the next half-hour simply staring at the river flowing by.

A long afternoon on the languid weekend


The next morning I made my way back into the jungle’s mist. The rising water the night before had quickly subdued, and I was fortunately able to fall back asleep.

“Hey! Where are you going? Better watch out for alligators!” yelled a kid standing on the shoreline near a small settlement, his words making me slightly uncomfortable.

“Stupid kid, quit fooling around. I already know there are no gators around here,” I thought to myself, though wondering that maybe what I had heard from the park official wasn’t right.

After I passed through several more rapids, the waters of the Sarawak began to grow cloudy and the current slowed. At this point I began to take note of the unusual features along the tropical river, such as the bamboo fences along the river at Cambon Danoo.

Then there was Cambon Boyan, nestled in the forest, and Cambon Git where people busily worked gathering raw materials for building new homes.

After making my way past the many young children playing in the river near Cambon Batun, I found sets of thrilling rapids awaited. Halfway through I made camp for the second night, then passed on he third day through Bakitan, a town where loud speakers blasting an Islamic call to prayer sent ripples through the placid water.

The river passed under the steel bridge connecting Kuching’s airport, outside the city center, to Bau. It eventually met up with large tributaries and became wider and cloudier. With no riverbanks on which to rest, I was forced to paddle the rest of the way to Kuching. The humidity and heat as well as the slowing of the current and expanding river width forced me to put some effort into paddling, and I quickly finished the remaining drinking water.

I passed under a first, then a second bridge strangely absent of the sounds of children playing. By 4 in the afternoon I had come to the Kuching waterfront with its walls of concrete, uncomplimentary to the river’s beauty.

The next day I met up with my old friend Kelvin as well as Kenny, who had taken me to Panenpat, and Jimmy who was studying Japanese. We headed for a recently popular Mexican restaurant where I recapped my stories from the trip over some beers and thanked them all for making my trip a success as we shared a hearty, “Cheers!”

[novo-map id=2 individual=”yes”]

Outdoor Japan logo tree

Related

Latest posts

Okinawa’s Blue Zone —A Li...

Dan Buettner’s bestseller, “Blue Zones,” which was also adapted into a hit series on Netflix, identifies five regions with a high number of centenarians. One of these zones is Yambaru, in the north of Okinawa Island. A rich cultural and natural heritage remain in this region, holding the secret to the longevity of the communities living there.

Kumano’s Path Less ...

A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

Okinawa Forest Adventure

Holiday-goers lounging on Onna’s white sand beaches are no doubt unaware of what’s going on high in the jungle as creatures climb above the forest canopy and zip or swing from tower to tower. Curious travelers will discover a new side of Okinawa’s tropical paradise if they take the leap into a Forest Adventure.

Categories