I hitched a ride on a motorbike to Long Umung, and from there I joined two kids, Boso and Inki, who were walking back to their home in Wa’ Yangun. Soon the sunny, hot plains were behind us and the forest welcomed us with its shade. The sounds of the forest, after a few days without hearing them, felt dense and mixed with the heavy, humid air, in a sort of strange synesthesia. We walked for four hours on a path so good that it reminded me of some European trails, only at times ruined by the passage of water buffalo and motorbikes that somebody managed to push up the steep slopes.
Wa’ Yangun was a little village in the hills, on the fringe of the virgin forest. It was a Lundayah village, like all the others on the Indonesian part of the Kelabit Highlands. Their language, I was told, was similar to that of the Kelabit, their neighbours on the Malaysian side of the border. Wa’ Yangun was the village of origin of Ali’s wife, and they gave me a letter of reference for Yusia Padan, Ali’s brother-in-law. Yusia was the local teacher, he did not speak any english, but after reading the letter he promptly offered me a bed in his house. Continue reading “The waiting game”