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Full Circle

Day 111: Nanga Sumpa

Nanga Sumpa, Malaysia 
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Enjoying a head-hunting joke with the longhouse chief and another elder.
Michael Palin - Full Circle'Mr Masing has arrived?' I ask eagerly.

Denis lifts his pork-pie hat, rubs his forehead and shakes his head.

'Fishermen,' he says. 'Big day.'

No sooner has that noise died away than an unearthly snarling roar emanates from the depths of the jungle, culminating in a shrill, angry whine, a crash and silence. 'Chainsaw,' says Denis. 'Sago palms. For the feast. Big day.'

From across the bridge, beside the longhouse, comes a chorus of terrified, trumpeting squeals.

'Pigs?' I ask, getting the hang of this. 'For the feast?'

Denis nods cheerfully.

'That's right.'

'Big day!' we say in chorus.

By the time I'm up and out two or three pigs have already been killed and chopped up into pieces which are being carefully laid on a log fire by a half-dozen Iban in shorts and T-shirts, who are already enjoying the benefits of a bottle of palm wine. Once the pieces are lightly scorched they are carried down to the water, scrubbed clean of any remaining hair or dirt before being further dissected and taken back to the fire. At the same time glutinous rice is being cooked inside lengths of bamboo. Dogs prowl hopefully.
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  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 111
  • Country/sea: Malaysia
  • Place: Nanga Sumpa
  • Book page no: 159

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