‘Jackie Chan’ stunting at Sibu during Christmas

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SIBU  –  Residents of Sg Merah had a unique way of celebrating Christmas this year; they converged on Wong Nai Siong Historical Corridor along the river to see some daredevils diving 20 ft down into the river below just for the adrenalin rush.

Pandemonium of sorts broke loose that morning as frenzied cheers stalled traffic flow, prompting drivers to roll down their windows to catch a glimpse of the spine-chilling stunt fraught with dangers.

An ‘Ang Pau’ (red packet) dangled from the pole upped the ante as revellers were seen walking on a narrow and slippery wooden pole, before leaping high into the air to grab the cash prize, and holding on to it with all their might as they plunged into the river.

Dangers lurking in the fast flowing river and the risk of hitting their heads or bodies against the pole were furthest from their mind.

One by one, the participants tried their luck with some losing their balance on the pole and plunging into the river.

Tony William, 28, a logistic clerk from a hardware company here, was equipped with nothing more than courage and determination in this ‘Jackie Chan’ like stunt.

He was all smiles as he made no mistake in ‘ripping’ the red packet from the pole.

“It is amazing what your mind can do for a small fear factor. I knew then if I were to let fear (no matter how small) slip in, there was a high likelihood that I would have fallen from the pole and into the water even before nearing the target,” he said.

He added that even though the prize money was not much, he was thrilled by the excitement.

“This is certainly no child play as one needs to be a good swimmer when attempting such extreme activity.”

For the thousands of residents of Sg Merah – Sibu’s satellite town – the high intensity and eye catching event was indeed something out of the ordinary from the usual Christmas celebration.

By 9.30am huge a crowd was already swarming the whole place and snapping photographs became increasingly difficult as one had to fight for the best spot to get the best angle.

A boat was stationed close to the waterfront to pick up the participants and bring them to safety.

Amidst the excitement and anxiety, someone shouted from among the crowd that the water level was rising and the current had grown in strength.

In between the jump, a duck catching competition was slotted in to add to the merriment. Scores of revelers jumped from the waterfront to catch the ducks. Some of them were seen using flippers for speed.

Belang Birang, 35, who hails from Kapit, managed to catch two ducks but he was far from satisfied.

“Last year, I caught more. Anyway, this is a Christmas gift for my family to enjoy a good meal,” the hardware shop worker said.

Asked if he was afraid jumping from height and plunging into the deep river, he replied in the negative.

“On weekends, I will usually cast my net to catch fish here so, I am very familiar with the river,” he chuckled.

Santa Claus and Santarina were there giving out gifts to the crowd.

A participant broke the pole, abruptly ending the competition.  -theborneopost