Have you been to Sri Aman – the quaint riverine town famous for being THE spot to witness a natural phenomenon known as the benak?
If your answer’s “no”, this August will be the right time to head on over there, with the Pesta Benak or Tidal Bore Festival promising more thrills and spills. A “benak” or tidal bore occurs when huge bodies of water rush upriver against the current, forming tidal waves as high as three metres.
Arrive a day or two early to explore Sri Aman Division and all the attractions it has to offer – Batang Ai National Park being one of them. In Sri Aman town itself, you can explore a piece of history from the Colonial era. Located just by the Batang Lupar river, Fort Alice was built by Rajah Charles Brooke in 1864 as a defensive structure. Restored to its former splendour, it now houses artefacts from its glory days.
Pesta Benak is Sri Aman’s biggest attraction, drawing in visitors from as far as Australia, the UK and the United States to the town’s Batang Lupar Riverine Park. Rows upon rows of stalls will be set up, where vendors will offer food, drinks, handicrafts, everyday products and so much more. There will be exhibition booths where visitors get to view photo displays and other exhibits. Activities like beauty pageant, muscleman contest and singing competition keep the visitors occupied when there’s nothing happening out on the water.
The chief attractions at Pesta Benak are the water activities. This festival will see the Batang Lupar abuzz with activities – jet skis cut through the water, kayakers slowly make their way along the river and surfers on the ready. When the tide comes, everyone gathers to the edge of the water to witness this very rare occurrence while surfers and kayakers take the opportunity to ride Sri Aman’s famed river waves.
At the end of the festival, perhaps you can make it a point to go to some of the local shops along the waterfront for some food. Sri Aman’s Satay Mee is a must-try, so is their cha kueh near the wet market.
For more information, contact the Tourism Task Group of Sri Aman and the Sri Aman Resident Office at +6083 323366, 323377, 323388 or visit sriamanro.gov.my or pestabenaksriaman.