February 1st 1984

posted in: The way back | 1
The “square” at Long Bedian

After breakfast, we strolled up to the timber camp, a couple of kms above the town.  Our friend from yesterday, who is apparently a surveyor with them (tho’ a junior one, we discovered) had told us they had a camp 25 kms or so up into the hills, + from there it was just 3 or 4 kms to a Punan village.  We hoped to obtain a ride up there, so took our bag with us, tho’ we did leave some of the bulkier items we didn’t need, including the camera, very much dead weight at the moment.  The camp wasn’t very far at all, tho’ the road was very muddy.  The news when we arrived there was dispiriting however – when we asked for the Camp Manager, it seemed we had missed him by half an hour or so: he had gone (yes, you’ve guessed it) to Camp Layun, the camp we wanted to get to.  Had we missed our only chance?  We could only wait + see.  The people there were very kind, they provided us with the most excellent coffee, + we whiled away the morning in conversation + handicrafts, Val tackling some beadwork, + me knotting another bracelet.  Come lunchtime, there was an even bigger treat, when we were given lunch.  It was a splendid Chinese meal, with 3 different types of fresh vegetables with meat.  Why on earth Tamala Camp makes do with tinned spam when they are on the main Baram supply-line I have no idea.

During the afternoon, Mr Forones, the Camp Manager, returned.  He too was very welcoming, but on finding out our intention he confused us greatly by first denying he had been to Camp Layun, + then saying the road was impassable.  Later, the story changed, especially when we discovered from his Chief Surveyor that they had been there, + by the end of the day it seemed likely we would be able to get a ride up there in the morning.  I don’t know whether he misunderstood our request, or deliberately misled us for some reason, but the end result ws satisfying.  Mr Forones was a Filipino, + as such was scornful of the merits of the Malaysian people.  In particular, he commented on their lack of ability in English (even tho’ it is not their official language.)  This is odd, because altho’ his own English is good in some respects (words such as malingering, productivity + briefing were all part of his working vocabulary) his intonation was most peculiar, + he seemed almost incapable of understanding us.  Sample conversation – Mr F “My daughter is at university.”  C – “Really, what does she study?”  Mr F – “Who?”  We did, however, struggle thro’ a conversation, + he turned out to be a nice man, if a little too much like Yopi.  Unlike Yopi, however, he had the great ability to leave us alone.

In the evening, another fine Chinese meal, again with chopsticks, with which we coped surprisingly well.  And afterwards, to celebrate the New Year, tangerines + beer.  I made the mistake, during the meal, of trying to start a conversation, but that does not seem to be the Chinese way – that’s heads down, + shovel.  After we had done enough of our social duty, Val + I headed to the TV room.  I guarded it carefully on TV Brunei all evening, + finally received my just reward in the form of an English football match, Spurs v Fulham in the Cup.  It would be one of the few games I knew the result of (2-0 to Spurs) but I’ll clutch at straws from home, + enjoyed watching it nonetheless.

A guest room of sorts had been prepared for us, in case of early departure in the morning, but regrettably our night was disturbed by a distressing incident.  We were both dozing when Val was awoken by a hand on her tit.  She shouted + struck out, but to no avail.  I sat up to see a figure disappearing quickly out the door.  Our own fault partly for not locking ourselves in, I suppose, but upsetting all the same.  Just a physical manifestation of the verbal abuse the males of Islam subject all women to.  Bastards.

Have to exercise some care with mt anti-Islamic sentiments, ascribing toi all the bad intentions of a couple, but it was an upsetting incident all the same. Rather a nothing day, leavened by some fine food, but, courtesy the dodgy camera, no very relevant photo.

  1. Pamela Blair

    I’ve had similar experiences to Val’s. Once, in Tabriz, Iran, Don, the fellow I was traveling with and I were invited to spend the night at a young man’s house, whose parents were away. We were sleeping on the floor with some young guys we’d met, zipped inside our sleeping bags, when one of the young guys stuck his hand in my crotch, even though Don was sleeping right next to me! One word from Don sent him packing to the other side of the room. After several similar experiences, I came to understand that the attitude of men was “it’s worth a try,” and if it doesn’t work out, no problem. I never had anyone actually force themselves on me, whether I was traveling with a male or alone.

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