Ba'Kelalan expedition with mondial 4x4

LE CIE DU RAID in Sarawak   Page 1

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part 1 in Kuching


I have done the road to Ba'Kelalan before and it seemed like the Good Lord always smiled on me on my trips. Yes, Ba'Kelalan is a Spiritual place and I consider it both a Spiritual and an off road pilgrim destination.

The well maintained trail before Long Semadoh

But here I am bogged on Blouie's belly (my Hilux) in meter deep mud. I sit tight (what else can I do?) and wait for Labo to back Lapis (his Hilux) to tow me out of this mud pit. I actually planned for a softer off road trip going in the 'dry' season but 'dry' is a half truth because it had not rained (except for  little shower at the regatta in Limbang) on our trip. This trail to Ba'Kelalan however had just seen the end of two weeks of rains that made our raid perfect.

Well bogged and waiting for Lapis to recover me

The whole purpose of the trip was to show Philippe Grielen of Mondial 4X4 Magazine (from France) the variations of off road trails in Borneo. This was day 3 of our drive and to cut to the chase, I'll relieve you of our drive from Kuching and scouting the timber roads around Bintulu and Mukah - except to say that due to a small technical glitch on one of our 8 Malaysia-Brunei border crossings, we arrived Lawas late and could not make the planned drive to Merarap hotsprings resort.

Changing tyres in Lawas - deterrent against the pain that the trail will inflict on us.

What a blessing in disguise it was because it enabled us to hook up with Labo, our long 4x4 buddy and for him to give us the low down on the latest conditions. "I'll arrange for you to rent a set of tyres" was the second thing Labo said after the usual greetings. "Sakit kalau pakai ini (it will be painful if you use your mud terrain)". "Must use the Ba'Kelalan special".

Going into the high country, low clouds and cool temperature

Whether you like it or not, mud is synonymous with off roading in Borneo 90% of the time. The reminder 10% belongs to the drought season that turns dirt track into asphalt like highways. Someone says that mud has a Byzantine like structure- where there are structures at different levels and variations of the same stuff from beginning to end. Tyres are the most important tool to survive the mud and slapped onto a standard Hilux, it made for one of the hundred Hiluxes plying this Camel Trophy like route.

That's Labo in Lapis (his fully prepared Hilux)

Philippe was driving a Daihatsu Feroza, named Flying Lemur and it only contained passengers Pascal (his wife) and son Pierre. All their luggage were carried on Blouie. It had pretty aggressive looking Bridgestone Desert Dweller MTs. A pretty standard car except for the 3" suspension lift. With Blouie, we formed a convoy with Labo in Lapis leading the way.

Now Labo's rig is a Borneo Safari media car and has proven itself. It's only one of the three vehicles that can be driven to Ba'Kelalan in the most extreme conditions. It has 35" Simex Centipedes, body lift, an added turbo and a Warn XP 9000 winch.

The first obstacle out from Long Sukang

Labo stopped at Long Sukang (a village along the way) and we stopped there to visit too. I surveyed the road entering into the village and saw that this was our first SS (Special stage aka obstacle). On the way out, I was surprised to find that the Lemur made it up easily. I climbed the slippery and steep slopes in low and found that I could also get up there without any problems.

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