Thoughts On a Heart Pumping Kayak Ride in TarlacThursday, November 10, 2011
October 23 4:20 PM
The current sure is getting stronger and it's pulling our small 2-passenger kayak quickly downstream. I must hold to my oar. This thing is expensive and I can't afford to lose it. One quick look at my guide and I saw he was paddling even faster. I realized he was suddenly unsmiling and intent on steering our little vessel into the right direction. The sound of falling water is getting louder and louder! I tugged on my life vest to make sure it was secured. I'm getting ready for the wildest ride of my life!
In the beginning...
October 22 10:35AM
Just arrived at Rapid Stream Whitewater facility in San Jose Tarlac. Whitewater kaying? In Tarlac? Who knew? It seemed as odd as packing a pair of bikinis for a trip to the mountains! It's my first time to try whitewater kayaking. I have no clue what to expect. The Rapid Stream crew were so friendly and accommodating that all we needed were welcome banner signs!
Jay, our instructor just got us through the basics of kayaking. Useful stuff like how to use a paddle (yes, there are certain technicalities), using the safety equipment and how to make sure you survive if manage to fall off your kayak. Note to self: pull you legs up to keep them from bumping into rocks in the event of a kayak flipover. This was only level 1-2 rapids. I'm sure I'll survive. Right?
Streeeeetch! Carmela, our local host just got us all to do exercises to prepare for a day of kayaking. My muscles hurt. Must get back in shape.
We're on a jeep that will bring us upstream at the starting point. This life vest is giving me a major wedgie. Safety or comfort? Hmmm...
Fasten your seat belts...
Woohoo! We're actually in the water! I made sure I got the front seat to a wild ride. It's great that we all get a guide in our kayak. Plus we didn't have more than 3 people in each boat. Ready... Get set.. Go!
What a rush! Every time our kayak went downstream I would get really excited! I paddled harder than ever. This was much more fun than I thought!
My arms hurt. There are parts of the river that are still and deep. I need to paddle harder. Paddling is a lot of work!
Christian, the co-owner of Rapidstream just showed me a cool technique on paddling. I was huffing and puffing hard and he took pity on me. His advice: instead of using your left arm when rowing to the left, push the oar with your right arm in a punching motion. Punch to the right, now punch to the left. Repeat! Wow! That made paddling much much easier. 1-2-1-2!
Taking a break. By jumping off rocks into the river! I'm a bit scared to jump into the jagged rocks. But Jay, our guide, holds my hand and jumps into the cold water with me. Refreshing!
Here come the wild rapids! Christian stops us and gives us a brief warning. The next turn will be a tough one. We may get caught in the reeds or take a tumble because of the sharp and narrow turn. We need to paddle faster than the downstream current. Breathing harder now.
Our turn to go! We paddle as hard as we can. We didn't turn over and made it! Everyone did! Oh, except our videographer Russel. Their kayak flips over in midstream. But they quickly recovered.
We're going surfing! Yes- paddle surfing that is! We pass through a fast section of the rapids. Then turned the boat back and paddled upstream- against the current! The goal is to stay in the same place for as long as you can before a wave pushes you off. Did I mention that my arms are about to fall off at this point? But our guide is so competitive! He kept trying to steer us in the direction of the rapids. I paddled so hard and laughed even harder. This is fun!
We got back to the starting point in one piece! What a ride! We have a big lunch of rice and tilapia in banana leaves. Delicious! Level 3-4 is coming up tomorrow in Mayantoc, Tarlac. I wonder if it's much wilder...
October 23 3:10PM
Next Level Rapids
Ohmylawrd! The first leg and it's the scariest one yet! Picture this: the drop is almost vertical. There are sharp, narrow turns and jagged rocks that glisten invitingly in the sun. The water just flowed so fast and hard! I can imagine how a kayak can easily flip and get swallowed up by the river.
Brian, the co-owner of Rapid Stream makes a wise decision to let the passengers skip this drop. Only the guides would ride it out. We got on after the first rapids. And what a wise decision it was. Most kayaks flipped over. But the team was experienced and recovered quickly without a hitch. Safety is a major concern for them.
We slip over the dam! We paddle so hard to get through. Our kayak makes a swift whoosh and we're back in the river.
Hold on for Dear Life!
They weren't kidding when they said this was level 4. More rapids to get through! It's even more exciting and faster than the first river ride! I scream my lungs out after each downstream fall.
The current sure is getting stronger and it's pulling our small 2-passenger kayak quickly downstream. I must hold to my oar. This thing is expensive and I can't afford to lose it. One quick look at my guide and I saw he was paddling even faster. I realized he was suddenly unsmiling and intent on steering our little vessel into the right direction. The sound of falling water is getting louder and louder! I tug on my life vest to make sure it's still secure. Getting ready for the wildest ride of my life!
We made it to the other side! I'm still alive! I was breathing hard and suddenly made a count of all the kayaks and friends who got back. All 10 of us were there! We had all survived the wildest ride of our lives!
Watch this video for a quick preview of our Whitewater Kayaking adventure:
If you want to go on a heart pumping whitewater kayaking adventure yourself, Rapid Stream in San Jose, Tarlac is only 2 hours away from Manila. You can book your trip through their facebook page. The cost is 1,800 per person and you can ask about their group discounts. You can take a bus from Manila to Tarlac City and get picked up for a minimal extra charge. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
There's more to Tarlac!
Whitewater rafting isn't the only thing that wowed us about Tarlac. We went cliff-jumping, trekking and swimming all in one weekend! We met so many wonderful people like the crew of Rapid Stream, the Vice-Mayor of Tarlac, Venus Tomas, and the local girls who introduced them all: The Prado Sisters Carmela and Diana whom we first met during Travel Talks. Check out this video to preview what else we were up to in Tarlac. I'm writing about that on my next post!
Smitten by Tarlac,
Sole Sister Lois
All videos and photographs are courtesy of Russel Patalinghog. Check out his work here or follow him on Twitter: @russelcp.
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