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Full Circle

Day 109: Kuching to Nanga Sumpa

Batang Ai Reservoir, Malaysia 
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Intrepid explorer, with Denis and the camera tripod, heads for the interior.
Michael Palin - Full CircleAlarm wakes me at six. Lie for a while and listen to the rain that I have heard coming and going, rising and falling in intensity throughout the night. It's settled now into a sheer ceaseless downpour.

The rain was certainly my friend last night, putting a premature end to a poolside karaoke party just below my window. Repeated, unsuccessful attempts to hit the high note of 'The Great Pretender' were plunging me into terminal despair. This morning I'm not so sure about it. In two hours' time we shall be out in the downpour, making our way out of Kuching, up river and into the interior. Headhunter country.

2.30 p.m. On the Batang Ai Reservoir, a hundred and seventy-five miles south-east of Kuching, close to the border between Sarawak and Kalimantan (the Indonesian half of Borneo). The rain-clouds hang in a long, windswept grey veil across the coast. Where we are the skies are clear blue, and slopes covered with palm oil and pepper plantations stretch in bright green patterns across the low hills.

We are on the edge of the great inhospitable interior of Borneo. To the south lie hundreds of square miles of swamp, to the north and east, range after range of precipitous, densely-forested mountains. It is one of the secret places of the world. Unless you know the jungle tracks and the difficult, unpredictable rivers there is no way in by land - no roads or railways, only the loggers' trails, where no one but the loggers are welcome.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 109
  • Country/sea: Malaysia
  • Place: Batang Ai Reservoir
  • Book page no: 153

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