Tuesday 24 November 2009. It was decided we’d drive back to the Sungai Lambai to have a look at the Tangsi Empat Falls.Tangsi means jail and Empat means four. But as in many Indonesian words they are said swopped around in English – so Four Jail Falls. This beastly drop consists of a top drop which is probably runnable, followed by an in between rapid and then the final drop. The final was the one we wanted to look at.

The river had dropped since we had first descended the section above the falls and it looked like an awful far way to fall in not very aerated water. Not surprisingly, only Andrew and Hugh wanted to run this drop so they climbed into their boats and paddled to the base of the drop, inspecting it again. The back of the falls lands on rock and the drop is believed to be rather shallow too. Eventually they hiked out and drove up to get above the falls and get down to the middle pool. They scouted a bit and you could see them talking and eventually Andrew decided to fire it up. He paddled down over the bony lip with speed and projected a touch away from the falls, leaning forward to get his nose down. On touchdown his paddle hit his lip but he was ok and in good working order. Job very well done! He had first descended the bottom drop of the Tangsi Empat, a drop of about 16m high.

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A view of the Tangsi Empat West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_2000_E1_PADDLES copyThey’re about 16m high. Hugh’s paddle is 2 metres I’m quite sure as he’s 6’6” tall.

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Andrew and Hugh checking it out. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_2154_E1 copyAndrew getting out for a closer look.

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Next up was Hugh. He false charged the lip two or three times but eventually went. It wasn’t the prettiest of runs and I think he took almost no stroke at the lip. The boat dropped down and rotated heart stoppingly as he landed with a huge thud on his edge and disappeared for a bit. The boat surfaced upside down and I think we all held our breaths but eventually a hand surfaced and then Andrew managed to reach him. Hugh’s deck had blown but he remained in the boat and amazingly was ok. People have paralysed themselves on waterfalls only 3 metres high so we were very relieved to see Mr. Du Preez in excellent working order! Well done for firing up that drop. I wonder when the top drop will be claimed by some other crazy in the years to come, definitely not me.

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Andrew Kellett and the big drop behind him. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_2185_E1 copyAndrew’s lip. Ouch. Otherwise no other injury, not bad!

Sumatra 09 CK 00 (749)_E1_CR copyHugh walking out from the waterfall. Photo by Celliers Kruger. (Celliers’ camera) 

With that we packed up and headed to another river, the Batang Suliti. Unfortunately it was desperately low but looked like it would have provided us with an awesome ride had there been water. There hadn’t been rain for over a week now and this river wasn’t going to be taken yet. Hugh decided to do a bit of kayak school for the Indonesian guys and go through some strokes so above a weir he did exactly that. After that we drove back to the house and went to drink some beer. Celliers played another game of chess against the shop owner while we carried on sipping some delicious beers. We then returned home for supper and the film crew from the national television was there. The following day we were to paddle the last rapid of the Batang Sangir while they would film us.

West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_2011_E1 copyThe taxi’s are pretty extreme there.

IMG_1385_E1_CR copyAnother view. Photo by Andrew Kellett. (Andrew’s camera)

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Hugh (foreground) and Andrew at the back. Photo by Celliers Kruger. (Celliers’ camera) Sumatra 09 CK 00 (761)_E1_CR copyTaxi, the the max!!! Photo by Celliers Kruger. (Celliers’ camera)   

Sumatra 09 CK 00 (751)_E1_CR copyClockwise from bottom left: Agus, Puji, Adrian and Andrew eating another super lunch. Photo by Celliers Kruger. (Celliers’ camera)

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Taking boats off for some kayak school as the next river was too low. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_2018_E1 copy

A man collecting gravel and loading it into his truck. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_2019_E1 copy

The might Mount Kerinci in the background. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_2026_E1 copy

Next to the Suliti. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_2032_E1_CR copyJohnny, our driver, and me. I’m on the right :-)

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Back home. Home sweet home. It was always good to get back here. Photo by Andrew Kellett. (Andrew’s camera) IMG_1406_E1_CR copy

Arriving back home. Photo by Andrew Kellett. (Andrew’s camera)  IMG_1428_E1_CR copyLocal kids loving the attention. Photo by Andrew Kellett. (Andrew’s camera)

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Cute, look at little Lucky :) West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_2035_E1_CR copy

My new friend, Lucky.  West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_2037_E1_CR copyLucky also getting his supper.

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Me and one of the son’s of the shop owner. Photo by Hugh du Preez.IMG_1433_E1_CR copy

Hugh and the owners son. Cute little dude. IMG_1436_E1_CR copy

Hugh (left) and me on the right enjoying a beer in a pool hall. Photo by Andrew Kellett.  IMG_1442_E1_CR copyHugh about to sink another one while Puji looks on. A really fun evening.     

We left again for more beer while Celliers went back for more chess. Somehow, we ended up at what seemed like a private house but with three pool tables inside. We paid only 15 000 per hour here while at the other pool hall we were being ripped off at 25 000 an hour, which I think is still less than 2 US Dollars an hour. Luckily there was no beer available at this pool place as the celebrations of Hugh and Andrews drop had started early enough. That night Andrew, Hugh and I played against our Indonesian kayaks members and at last Andrew and I were on a winning team. Do you think it was Hugh? Maybe. We won all four or five games that we played. Later on we walked home and got into bed at 00:15. It had been a good day. I wondered what the following day would bring as our trip moved to the remaining few days of our time in paradise.

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