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Out of the woods


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.

During my time in Borneo I filled two journals with notes, and a backpack with books about Bornean nature, history, and culture. I took more than 6000 pictures. I met beautiful people. I interviewed friends and colleagues old and new, each with their own views on modern-day Borneo, its nature and how to protect it, its economy and how to develop it, its cultures, and how to make all this co-exist and flourish. It is time to put some order in all this material and share it.
Certainly the writing style will be affected in comparison to when I was writing “on the run”, in brief moments stolen from the challenges of being on the road. As I write on a real computer with a real keyboard, sitting at a tidy desk, perhaps there will be less typos (I hope), but the narration might come across as less fresh and crispy. I will do my best to take the best from both situations, keeping the writing vivid as it is when it is done on the road, but also spending more time developing thoughts and impressions. I leave it to my readers to judge the result.
A lot has happened since my last bit of writing, right after I arrived to Bario. I managed to complete my mission, that consisted in the crossing of Borneo east to west. The original plan was to cross the island on foot. Eventually I considered myself satisfied with crossing it overland, which proved challenging enough. It included disheartening moments of waiting, some promising but wrong attempts at finding a way through, and, once the right way was found, many kilometres by foot, motorbike, truck, longboat, and ferry. My way took me from the city of Miri, on the west coast, sat by the South China Sea, to Tarakan, on the east coast, where the Kayan Riven meets the Strait of Makassar.
You already followed me almost midway, to the remote village of Bario. What will follow is the story of what happened next.
Sit back, get a cup of coffee. I am about to take you back to the tropical forests of Borneo.