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Stranger In The Forest On Foot Across Borneo

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Autor:   •  January 5, 2011  •  2,490 Words (10 Pages)  •  418 Views

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Stranger in the Forest

On Foot Across Borneo

By Eric Hansen

The book is basically about the author, Eric, going across Borneo with guides and then when he makes it to the end he turns around and goes back by himself which is real dangerous when the people believe there is a ghost that kills pregnant women and also he doesn’t really know his way.

In Chapter one, differences between our culture and theirs is that they carry a machete, “parang” and it is the universal tool of the people of upriver communities. They have tattoos on their arms and legs. Mr. Das thought he was safe from crocodiles with a hook tattoo he had. Houses are built above the ground for cooling and ventilation and garbage disposal. The people celebrate the people who died in the last six months in August. The hostess of the party was topless. People were hitting each other on the head with a live rooster. Sometimes the people rub pig mess in other people’s faces. One guy cut his hair for the first time since the passing of a relative and another person used soap the first time in four months. At the party a person started going berserk and they tied him up and when he calmed down they let him go.

In chapter two the people wear brass weights in ears for beauty. The Penans don’t like the sun and are shy have little personal contact. People went to church 3 times daily. Priceless family heirlooms such as dream beads, charms and old headhunting swords were thrown in the rivers or burned because of their magical power to cure sickness and control weather or bring good luck on the hunt. Special beads interpret dreams and divine the future. Outward expression of anger or displeasure is considered in Sarawak to be the ultimate in bad manners. It is wrong to hunt crocodiles unless they attack first.

Penans walk in a single file they can’t walk side by side because that’s how they walk in the jungle.

In chapter three, the Penan used the bark off of a kayu bujan panas was placed in the attic of a new long house would ward off evil spirits and a small piece carried as a charm would keep poisonous snakes away. They would make tea from the bark and the tea is giving to Malay women after childbirth. Before Christian burials the dead were placed in wooden coffins and allowed to rot on the longhouse porch. Holes were punched in the bottom of the coffins and bamboo poles were inserted to allow for drainage. It was considered an expression of love and respect to put up with the stench of putrefying flesh. Each day at noon kayu udjung panas would be burned to scare away the spirit, the departed soul, and it was hoped some of the frightful smell. When Eric was getting tired, the tribe repeated the word hati, which means liver; it means emotional center of body as the heart is for Westerners. John and Tingang fixed Eric cuts with sakali-olo a leaf chewed to a paste and smeared on the skin to stanch the flow of blood and prevent infection sometimes moss was used. Deep cuts were treated with a root that

was first roasted on the fire for five minutes then frayed with edge of knife. This preparation was placed on the cut with a leaf and held in place with thin strips of bark. John and Tingang thought Eric was using “obat” magic/medicine to grow his mustache because they couldn’t grow one. You have to watch out for red caterpillars because the hairs on them would go in the septic wound. John told the story of how the Penan came from. There was a hole in the tree and another tree with branches and wind blew and man and woman saw it and imitated the trees because the branches were going in the hole. To tell where a person has been there were messages on a stick that was sticking up from the ground. The Penan had their own jungle talk to avoid scaring the wildlife and to conceal messages from strangers. They use relay whistling. They carried blow darts. They have a solo dance called ngajat. They wear red, white, and blue loincloth at the night party. Then the females got up and danced and then after they finished their regular dance they started to dance dirty.

In chapter four we learned that during World War II paratrooper landed and the Kelabit tribe wanted to know if the white men was human. An Irau is a big party to show unlimited hospitality and what you bring to the party people will remember down the road. Use to last two to three days but since Christian missionary, it now ends before midnight on the first day. Debt from a grandfather is passed on to the grandson. You can ask for something else besides what you owe. During an Irau, the Kelabits have official names for their National Identity cards but change their names frequently. The missionaries were passing songbooks to the Penan, but they can’t read. They would pray out loud different prayers at the same time. Once Eric made it to the border of

Kalimantan, Pedera Ulan said he must obtain a “surat jalan” walking letter show it to the first headman and he will write you a new letter so you won’t travel as a stranger. Guides from headman are responsible for you. People in the center of Borneo have long memories and any local who violates the code of village hospitality can expect his family and their descendents to bear the guilt of his actions. Pedera Ulan told Eric about “Elmu hitam” the practice of black magic and certain people with “sakit hati” sick livers/bad hearts can cause illness be sending a “pisau” knife through the air over any distance. It enters the victim’s body, and he or she gradually weakens over several months and dies. People from the Mahakam River, can send a “djarum” needle, splinter of wood from the ironwood tree, or a “tulang” bone through the air. These objects can also be hidden on the footpaths. They painlessly enter the foot, and a lingering illness and death follow. Only a “parang” machete from the local iron ore can kill a practitioner of “black magic”. Saying goodbye and thank you is not in the Penan behavior.

In chapter five we learned that if Eric was caught with shotgun shells at the border, he could have received a year in jail for each shotgun shell. He had the shotgun shells as money. Indonesian government encourages that all problems on the village level be brought to, “kepala adapt”, the headman; instead of imposing a set of modern laws. People believe that if a decision is not reached quickly, bad feelings

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