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Full Circle

Day 110: Nanga Sumpa, Sarawak

Nanga Sumpa, Malaysia 
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Waterfall in the jungle. Sarawak/Kalimantan border.
Michael Palin - Full CircleHowever, our boatmen are pleased today to have caught a rare semas - the Sarawak state fish - and at lunchtime we pull the boats up onto a stony beach and a fire is made and the fish eaten with rice and a fresh-made sambal, a spicy condiment consisting of onion, garlic, peppers, limes, dried shrimp, chillies, soya sauce and other delicacies pounded together in a chunky granite mortar. Big, brightly-coloured butterflies - coffee brown, primrose yellow, malachite green - flutter about in the patches of sunlight.

A lot of the older men have tattoos. Denis tells me that because of the old tradition that tattoos be done away from the longhouse, they have become the mark of a gentleman who has travelled, someone who has seen the world. 'Good sign to women, too,' he assures me, grinning.

After lunch is finished we press on, past the last house on the river and into a no man's land. We reach a waterfall that plunges out of the jungle and stop, strip off and bathe. The day has turned humid and it's wonderfully refreshing to be so thoroughly doused. Completely forget about leeches, and fortunately they forget about me.

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  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 110
  • Country/sea: Malaysia
  • Place: Nanga Sumpa
  • Book page no: 157

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