Summary of the previous episodes: I found my way from Miri to Bario across the forest by truck, boat and on foot. Not content, once in Bario I involved my new kelabit friends Julian and Philippe in a suffer-fest to reopen the trail to the mythical mountain of Batu Lawi. After that my body and mind were so worn out that I took a break and flew back to Miri to pull myself together and decide the next steps: give up or carry on? Go big or go home? Are you dying to find out what I chose? Read on and find out [spoiler alert: I carried on]. Continue reading “From Bario across the border”
When I undertook my crossing of Borneo, I set Bario as a minimum goal. I said to myself, “If I fail to walk across Borneo, I must at least reach the Kelabit highlands. I must at least reach Bario overland”. Looking forwards from Miri, from Marudi, from Long Lellang, there were so many uncertainties on my way that, in my mind, Bario became a destination rather than just a stage on my way towards the east coast. But then, in between of all the “there’s no way to Bario”, “The forest is too thick”, “there are no walking paths anymore”, “just go back to Miri and take an airplane” that people kept telling me along the way, there were also those that would say “boleh, boleh (‘it can be done’), go to this place, ask for this guy, he can find you a guide”. Once I embraced the unspoken bornean philosophy that eventually things always work out, once things started spinning in the right direction, the distance from Bario kept shortening at a steady pace. Continue reading “Intermezzo (to bail or not to bail?)”
I would like to spend some more words on Bario and its inhabitants.
Continue reading “Bario, or a Bornean Shangri-La”
On my arrival to Bario I realized how much the forest had worn me out. For the first time in days my skin was dry and warmed by the sun, instead of wet in dew and perspiration and overheated by the walking. Walking around Bario’s few but tidy road, my feet could lay flat and stable instead of balancing on slippery roots and rock edges or sinking into mud. I told myself it was time for a rest, and yet, over few “rest” days I explored the surrounding of Bario, climbing Prayer Mountain and visiting some waterfalls hidden in the jungle that surrounds the village’s well-groomed rice fields. These leisurely activities allowed me to reload my batteries and keep my restlessness in check. But as energy came back, so did the longing for being on the road.
Only then I found out of Batu Lawi.
I have not updated this blog in a while. At some point during the trip I simply got fed up of transcribing my notes on the 4” screen of my smartphone, and then having to hunt the rare, wobbly wifi spots on my way to upload my pieces on the internet. I was in the middle of the Bornean forests, after all. I carried on taking notes with the good old pen and paper, with the intention of working on them and publishing them online at a later time. Now that I am back in Europe, that time has come.
Bario is close. First we find six limestone monolites, three on each side of the trail, disposed to create a sort of corridor. Ukau points and say: “Batu Lungun”.
Continue reading “Bario”
Day five in the forest is long, and full of surprises.
Continue reading “Even Penan get lost sometimes”
Fourth day on the trail. Perhaps we’ll get to Bario tomorrow, perhaps not. I don’t really worry about it. On one hand I begin to feel the tiredness, I realize it from my walking pace slowing down more and earlier during the day than it did in the past days. On the other hand I am now used to the weight of the backpack, and I am not in a rush for leaving the forest and the company of my silent guides.
Continue reading “Christmas in the forest”
On our first day, Ukau, Luat and I leave Long Sabai at 08:30, walk along Sungai Badat until we meet Sungai Tutoh, and set camp near its banks around 16:00. It is a breaking-in day for me.