Early start as I wanted to catch a high speed ferry up the river to Kapit, some 126 km away. According to what I had read the trip should take around 3 hours, hence I needed to catch a ferry around 7 am so as to have some time to explore Kapit.
The ferries are long thin bullet shaped boats with powerful engines that push them up the river at 30 mph (50 kph), on the return trip they do 35 mph (56 kph), and the return trip takes 2 hours 30 minutes. The boats have three classes onboard, first or VIP, business, and coach, with first class coasting RM30 (£6, $9) one way.
The first class cabin was a bit basic but very comfortable, with an exceptionally strong aircon on the outward trip (I wish I had brought a fleece or jumper with me, and towards the end of the trip to Kapit I had to leave the cabin as it was too cold). The aircon also causes all the windows to mist up on the outside so the views are pretty limited. However, even when the windows were mist free (the condensation burns off every time the sun comes out) it was still difficult to see things as the windows are highly scratched (this was true of both boats I caught), and so it is not great for ‘sightseeing’. The cabin also had a TV, on which they show films. Basically, these boats are functional and are used for ferrying people and goods around, they are not really for tourists to go sightseeing.
There was no safety briefing on either trip. Were there life vests under my seat? I assume so…. I did see some on a wall.
As we left Sibu, Sarawak, and headed up the river the left hand bank was full of industry – factories, and shipyards, for the first 15 to 20 min. The righthand bank seemed to be mostly jungle with occasional houses and some abandoned factories. As we headed further up the river we passed under two major road bridges in the first 35 mins, and after the second bridge there seemed to be some farming along the banks and signs of settlements. Later on in the trip both banks had a number of longhouses visible as well as loading areas for the logging industry.
The river was very flat, so there was no, or very little, rocking on the boat. There was quite a lot of floating debris coming down the river, ranging from small sticks and large logs.
About 90 minutes in to the trip, the river started to narrow, and the mobile phone signal was finally lost.
As we neared Song (2 hours after leaving Sibu), the first and only stop, the mobile phone signal came back, briefly. I have no idea if it is possible to break the journey at Song. I guess you would have to buy a ticket that was Sibu to Song, and then Song to Sibu.
From Song it was another hour to Kapit.