Friday, August 12, 2011

Exploring Borneo (without leaving home)

I’ve been burying myself under a pile of books. And today I can’t wait to tell you about one of them. It’s a travel book (a genre I normally don’t read) and was recommended way back in 2008 by the friendly lady at Borneo Books. However, having already spent a small fortune at her store, I couldn’t add the book to my cart. Anyway, I found a copy at the library recently.

I liked it so much and I’m urging you to read it, too!
 Why I liked it?

1. It’s rolling-on-the-floor funny.

2. It tells me something I’m interested in. There’re lots of references to birds, butterflies, snakes and other wildlife but lots of birds in particular.

3. I learned a great deal about the natives of Sarawak and their cultures—I knew zero before—the Iban, Kenyah, Kayan, etc and the Ukit whom I’ve never heard of.

4. The author mentions about old customs  “ as delightful and exciting and sensible as nyayap, the secret night visiting of young men to the sleeping places of young girls”—and new developments, including: “There is new diseases here. Your spear it rots. You go to hospital, they look at your spear, you take medicine. We have a word for this diseases. I not know it in English. We Iban, in our language, we call it syphilis”… (as described by Leon, an Iban, who went on the upriver expedition with the writer.)

5. The book tickles my curiosity—my want-to-know itch-- about evolution and the migration of mankind. There’s even an excerpt from Darlington’s The Evolution of Man and Society.
6. It made me aware that the people in the remote parts of Sarawak, areas reachable only by many days’ worth of tortuous boat journey, suffer the same fate as Sabahans who live deep in the jungles or up remote hills accessible only through miles of footpaths. They live as their forefathers must have lived 200 years ago. No hospital, no doctor, no modern medicines and a cut could lead to gangrene to needless death.

6. There’s even an impressive bibliography at the end.
So if you like your reading materials high on the humour, with a good dash of local culture, a pinch of history and loads of nature, this book is for you! Cheers!


  1. Thanks for the recommended and nice to meet you at the writing workshop.

  2. Hi Charles! Thanks for visiting. I hope you found the book. It was a pleasure meeting you. Good luck with your writing and hoping to meet you at the next workshop!