Not long after this the river started to become a lot larger. The jungle walls closed in and became more vertical and in places over a hundred metres high. Portaging didn’t look possible and I began to get nervous. We had been on the water a long time and the possibility of running out of light was becoming quite real. We didn’t scout any of the rapid and just plunged down, sometimes swopping over who would probe the next rapid. I remember one long rapid as it dropped down and into a right hand bend. Andrew made the eddy after a quick roll and I wondered how this one would turn out. He got out to video and down we went. As I dropped into a river wide hole I disappeared, taking two strokes to get out, luckily. Shew, glad we didn’t have more water! It’s a pity that we didn’t take many photos here, but we didn’t know how far we still had to go and the light was bad anyway. The idea of sleeping out here in the jungle unprepared didn’t appeal to any of us.

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Me (left) and Andrew (right). This is the rapid right at the lunch stop we had and the one the wild boar must have swum down… Photo by Celliers Kruger – Celliers’ camera. Sumatra 09 CK 00 (334)_E1_CR copy

Adrian Tregoning at the lunch stop. Photo by Celliers Kruger – Celliers’ camera.  Sumatra 09 CK 00 (350)_E1_CR copyAndrew throwing a coconut to Hugh in his boat. See it? This was our lunch stop. The wild boar climbed out exactly behind where the coconut is flying. Photo by Celliers Kruger – Celliers’ camera. 


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Hugh on a rapid just before lunch. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_0913_E1 copy

Celliers on the same rapid. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_0918_E1 copy West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_0922_E1 copy

And Toto too. Good fun. Watch the rocks!  West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_0926_E1 copy

Randomly on the Batang Liki. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_0945_E1 copy

Rapid at our lunch spot with Puji in the front. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_0951_E1 copyMe at lunch – happy man. Photo by Celliers Kruger. 

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Agus on the outside bend. Photo by Andrew Kellett – Andrew’s camera. IMG_0687_E1_CR copy

Hugh cruising past a very ugly strainer. Photo by Andrew Kellett – Andrew’s camera.  IMG_0689_E1_CR copy

Another rapid further down. As you can see, the Liki was gaining a lot of volume! Photo by Andrew Kellett – Andrew’s camera.  IMG_0691_E1_CR copy

Celliers enjoying the fluffy water. Photo by Andrew Kellett – Andrew’s camera.  IMG_0693_E1_CR copy

Celliers just past a super ugly spot. See the logs on the right? Photo by Andrew Kellett – Andrew’s camera.  IMG_0699_E1_CR copy

A fisherman casting his net. Photo by Andrew Kellett – Andrew’s camera.  IMG_0706_E1_CR copy

Me in the front with Celliers just behind. Photo by Andrew Kellett – Andrew’s camera.  IMG_0710_E1_CR copyHugh about to enter a hole…Photo by Andrew Kellett – Andrew’s camera. 

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Under a bridge which we encountered. This was close to the road. Then the river dropped into a cool little gorge afterwards. Photo by Celliers Kruger – Celliers’ camera. Sumatra 09 CK 00 (357)_E1_CR copyHugh on another fun rapid. Photo by Celliers Kruger – Celliers’ camera.

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Celliers further down. It was getting really fun. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_0975_E1 copy

Andrew playing in a hole. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_0979_E1 copy

The Batang Liki. What a beautiful river… West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_0992_E1 copy

Andrew Kellett with a sweet boof. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_1000_E1 copy

Agus finishing off the rapid easily. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_1002_E1 copy

Puji punching a hole with style.  West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_1004_E1 copyLooking down from the rapid pictured above. Pure heaven, right?

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Andrew cruising through yet another rapid. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_1018_E1 copy

Agus on the same rapid. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_1023_E1 copy

Take out. My gear. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_1024_E1 copySelf portrait. Great day!!!   

After some really awesome rapids and world class scenery, we made the take out. It was 16:30 then. The take out was the put in we had used the previous day. Two first descents on the Batang Liki in two days, very nice. This one had taken about six hours to complete.

We drove back and I was felt really good. It had been another excellent day. Back at home we got crumbed, fried banana, which was really excellent, and then dinner consisted of chicken, rice and some leafy vegetables. We then went out to this one little shop and drank five of these Anker beers between the four of us. Getting hold of cold beers is not very easy here. Of course most people are Muslim so alcohol is not available in every store of course. But surprisingly, it’s not that hard to get hold of. Even Celliers had a little beer, breaking his tradition of one beer per year! Things were looking up! We wondered off deeper into the village and came across a place where we could play pool. It was crowded with men playing cards at these tables and I believe they pay an hourly rate to enjoy their spots. We too, paid an hourly rate for the table. It wasn’t expensive but later in the trip we found a place a fair amount cheaper.

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From left: Hugh, Celliers and Andrew. This is outside the shop where we bought the beer.West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_1029_E1 copy

Chilling out opposite the shop. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_1030_E1_CR copy

Me and one of the Anker beers. Good stuff. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_1038_E1_CR copyHugh, he loves kids.

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Andrew and I (left). Team Cape Town!  West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_1044_E1_CR copy

Hugh and Celliers (right). Team Free State! West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_1050_E1 copyAndrew sending another home.

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Hugh breaking. Photo by Andrew Kellett – Andrew’s camera. IMG_0750_E1_CR copyMe sinking more, I think! Photo by Andrew Kellett – Andrew’s camera.


In the end, Andrew and I lost. Oh well…  West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_1055_E1 copy

My mullet friend. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_1059_E1 copy

Some chaps playing cards. Quite different to games played in the western world - not a drop of alcohol to be seen. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_1061_E1 copyBilly (left) and Hugh eating chips with a chilli sauce late at night – still hot.   

The owner was a classic looking chap with a huge mullet hair style. You know the type - business in the front, party at the back. Gotta love it! He brought out some hectic coffees, or so I was told because I haven’t had a cup since 1997 but the others at least enjoyed it. After waiting a long while he produced some beers (which were warm) but then a short while later a large jug and ice. We were in business. Andrew and I represented Cape Town and Celliers and Hugh represented the boring province of the Free State. Celliers had never played pool before but said he knew angles. I thought this would be an easy victory. In the end, Celliers turned out to be a pool shark and caned Andrew and I solidly. It was embarrassing to us but at least we have better rivers in Cape Town so deep down we are still happier, victorious or not. Eventually we walked home, in the rain. It had been a glorious day and ended off really well. I sat with Hugh on the steps at the house and chatted for a while afterwards. Life was good here.

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Photography by: Adrian Tregoning. Unless otherwise stated.
All Words by: Adrian Tregoning.