About the middle of January, I began an expedition into the utan, as the Malays call the great jungles of Borneo, first going up the river half a day and from there striking inland toward the north. If circumstances proved favourable, I intended to travel as far as Bengara, about twelve days' trip for a Dayak with a light burden to carry. In case of unfavourable weather and too much delay in getting fresh provisions, I felt that I should be satisfied in penetrating well into a region not before visited by whites, where I might succeed in coming into contact with the shy nomads, called Punans, known to roam there in limited numbers. To this end I had taken along one of the Sultan's petty officials, a so-called raja, who exercised more or less control over the Punans. This man, evidently half Malay and half Dayak, and as nude as the rest, demanded to be waited upon by the other natives, who even had to put up his hair. He was lazy; he would not be a raja if he were not. If he were on the move one day, he would sleep most of the next.

Among my twenty-two Kayans was an efficient and reliable man called Banglan, the sub-chief of Kaburau, who was alert and intelligent. He had only one hand, the result of a valorous fight with a crocodile, by which his prahu (native boat) had been attacked one day at dawn in a small tributary of the river. The animal actually upset the prahu and killed his two companions, in trying to save whom with no weapon but his bare hands, he lost one in the struggle. In their contact with the crocodiles the Dayaks show a fortitude almost beyond belief. A Dutch doctor once treated a man who had been dragged under water, but had the presence of mind to press a thumb into each eye of the reptile. He was badly mangled, but recovered.

As long as we remained at a low altitude camping out was not an unalloyed pleasure, because the tormenting gnats were exasperating, and at night the humidity was great, making the bed and everything else damp. The atmosphere was heavy and filled with the odor of decaying vegetable matter never before disturbed. In the morning at five o'clock, my hour for rising, there was considerable chill in the air. It was difficult to see a star here and there through the tall trees and dense undergrowth that surrounded us as closely as the walls of a cave.

The stagnant atmosphere and dark environment, which the sun's rays vainly attempted to penetrate, began to have a depressing effect on my spirits. After a couple of nights spent thus, a longing for sunshine came over me and I decided to stay one day, make a clearing, dry our belongings, and put up a shelter in which to leave some of our baggage; all of which could not be carried up the hills.

I told the raja and Banglan that I wanted the sun to shine into the camp, and the men immediately set to work with cheerful alacrity. The Dayaks have no rivals in their ability to make a tree fall in the desired direction. First, by carefully sighting the trunk, they ascertain the most feasible way for the tree to fall, then they chop at the base with native axes, sometimes four men working, two and two in unison. In a remarkably brief time it begins to weaken, the top making slight forward movements which are followed by a final sharp report announcing the end of their labour.

Quickly noting that they were masters in their craft, I permitted them to fell forest giants in close proximity to our tents, some of which landed but half a metre distant. Immense specimens in their fall brought down thickets of creepers and smaller growths which produced big openings, so we succeeded in making quite a sunny camp in the dark jungle.

Since that experience I have made it an invariable rule in my travels to cut a small clearing before putting up my tent in the jungle. Sometimes the felling of one or two trees will ameliorate the situation immeasurably, admitting fresh air and sunlight, and there is little difficulty about it when one is accompanied by such able and willing men as the Dayaks. For their own use when travelling they make simple shelters as night approaches, because they dislike to get wet. The material is always close at hand. Slender straight poles are quickly cut and brought in to make frame-work for a shed, the floor of which is about half a metre above ground. The roof is made of big leaves, and in less than an hour they are comfortably at home in one or more sheds, grouped around fires on the flimsy floor.

It is a curious fact that one can always manage to make a fire in these damp woods; a petroleum burner is not essential. The natives always know where to go to find something dry that will burn; as for the white man's cook, he usually improves upon the situation by soaking the wood in petroleum, which is one of the valuable articles of equipment. Often in the jungle, when slightly preparing the ground for erecting the tent, phosphorescent lights from decayed vegetable matter shone in innumerable spots, as if a powerful lamp were throwing its light through a grating.

In ascending the hills it was surprising how soon the aspect of the vegetation changed. The camp we were just leaving was only about a metre above the Kayan River, so we probably were not more than twenty-odd metres above sea-level. Twenty metres more, and the jungle vegetation was thinner even at that short distance. Trees, some of them magnificent specimens of hard wood, began to assert themselves. Above 100 metres elevation it was not at all difficult to make one's way through the jungle, even if we had not had a slight Punan path to follow. It is easier than to ascend the coast range of northeast Queensland under 18 S.L., where the lawyer palms are very troublesome. Making a light clearing one evening we opened the view to a couple of tall trees called in Malay, palapak, raising their crowns high above the rest; this is one of the trees from which the natives make their boats. The trunk is very tall and much thicker near the ground.

Reaching a height of 500 metres, the ground began to be slippery with yellow mud, but the jungle impeded one less than the thickets around Lenox, Massachusetts, in the United States. Toward the south of our camp here, the hill had an incline of 45 degrees or less, and one hardwood tree that we felled travelled downward for a distance of 150 metres. A pleasant soft breeze blew for about ten minutes, for the first time on our journey, and the afternoon was wonderfully cool.

A Kayan messenger here arrived from the kampong, bringing a package which contained my mail, obligingly sent me by the controleur. The package made a profound impression on the Dayaks as well as on the Chinese interpreter, all of whom crowded around my tent to observe what would follow. I went elsewhere for a little while, but it was of no avail. They were waiting to see the contents, so I took my chair outside, opened and read my mail, closely watched all the time by a wondering crowd.

None of our attendant natives had been in this part of the country before except a Punan, now adopted into the Kayan tribe, who knew it long ago and his memory at times seemed dimmed. Fresh tracks of rhinoceros and bear were seen and tapirs are known to exist among these beautiful wooded hills. Chonggat succeeded in shooting an exceedingly rare squirrel with a large bushy tail. We finally made camp on top of a hill 674 metres in height which we called kampong Gunong.

The Dayaks helped me to construct a small shed with a fireplace inside where I could dry my wet clothing, towels, etc. Of their own initiative they also put up around the tent some peculiar Dayak ornamentations in the shape of long spirals of wood shavings hung on to the end of poles or trees which they planted in the ground. The same kind of decorations are used at the great festivals, and when a gentle wind set them in motion they had quite a cheerful, almost festive appearance.

Every morning, almost punctually at five o'clock, the gibbons or long-armed, man-like apes, began their loud chatter in the tree-tops, more suggestive of the calls of birds than of animals. They are shy, but become very tame in confinement and show much affection. A wah-wah, as the animal is called in this part of the world, will throw his arms around the neck of his master, and is even more human in his behaviour than the orang-utan, from which he differs in temperament, being more vivacious and inclined to mischief. In a kampong I once saw a young gibbon repeatedly descend into a narrow inclosure to tease a large pig confined there. The latter, although three or four times as large, seemed entirely at his mercy and was submissive and frightened, even when his ears were pulled by the wah-wah. During my travels in the jungle of Borneo, few were the days in which I was not summoned to rise by the call of the wah-wah, well-nigh as reliable as an alarm clock.

My stay here was protracted much longer than I expected on account of rain and fog, which rendered photographing difficult; one or the other prevailed almost continuously. Frequently sunlight seemed approaching, but before I could procure and arrange my camera it had vanished, and light splashes of rain sounded on my tent. This was trying, but one cannot expect every advantage in the tropics, which are so beautiful most of the year that I, for one, gladly put up with the discomforts of a wet season.

Rain-storms came from the north and northeast; from our high point of view, one could see them approaching and hear the noise of the rain on the top of the jungle many minutes before they arrived. A few times, especially at night, we had storms that lasted for hours, reaching sometimes a velocity of eighty kilometres an hour. The trees of the jungle are naturally not exposed to the force of the wind, standing all together, so those surrounding our clearing seemed helpless, deprived of their usual support. Some smaller ones, apparently of soft wood, which had been left on the clearing, were broken, and the green leaves went flying about. On one occasion at dusk Banglan stood a long time watching for any suspicious-looking tree that might threaten to fall over the camp. Torrents of rain fell during the night and we could barely keep dry within our tents. The rain was more persistent here in the vicinity of the lower Kayan than in any other part of Borneo during my two years of travel through that country.

White-tailed, wattled pheasants (lobiophasis), rare in the museums, were very numerous here. This beautiful bird has a snow-white tail and its head is adorned with four cobalt-blue appendages, two above and two underneath the head. The Dayaks caught this and other birds alive in snares, which they are expert in constructing. I kept one alive for many days, and it soon became tame. It was a handsome, brave bird, and I was sorry one day to find it dead from want of proper nourishment, the Dayaks having been unable to find sufficient rain-worms for it.

The beautiful small deer, kidyang, was secured several times. Its meat is the best of all game in Borneo, although the Kayans look upon it with disfavour. When making new fields for rice-planting, if such an animal should appear, the ground is immediately abandoned.

Scarcely fifty metres below the top of the hill was our water supply, consisting of a scanty amount of running water, which stopped now and then to form tiny pools, and to my astonishment the Dayaks one day brought from these some very small fish which I preserved in alcohol. Naturally the water swells much in time of rain, but still it seems odd that such small fish could reach so high a point.

Many insects were about at night. Longicornes scratched underneath my bed, and moths hovered about my American hurricane lamp hanging outside the tent-door. Leeches also entered the tent and seemed to have a predilection for the tin cans in which my provisions and other things were stored. In the dim lamplight I could sometimes see the uncanny shadows of their bodies on the canvas, raised and stretched to an incredible height, moving their upper parts quickly to all sides before proceeding on their "forward march." To some people, myself included, their bite is poisonous, and on the lower part of the legs produces wounds that may take weeks to cure.

One day native honey was brought in, which had been found in a hollow tree. It was sweet, but thin, and had no pronounced flavour. A few minutes after the honey had been left on a plate in my tent there arrived a number of large yellow hornets, quite harmless apparently, but persevering in their eagerness to feast upon the honey. During the foggy afternoon they gathered in increased numbers and were driven off with difficulty. The temporary removal of the plate failed to diminish their persistence until finally, at dusk, they disappeared, only to return again in the morning, bringing others much larger in size and more vicious in aspect, and the remaining sweet was consumed with incredible rapidity; in less than two hours a considerable quantity of the honey in the comb as well as liquid was finished by no great number of hornets.

Later several species of ants found their way into my provision boxes. A large one, dark-gray, almost black, in colour, more than a centimetre long, was very fond of sweet things. According to the Malays, if irritated it is able to sting painfully, but in spite of its formidable appearance it is timid and easily turned away, so for a long time I put up with its activities, though gradually these ants got to be a nuisance by walking into my cup, which they sometimes filled, or into my drinking-water. Another species, much smaller, which also was fond of sugar, pretended to be dead when discovered. One day at ten o'clock in the morning, I observed two of the big ants, which I had come to look upon as peaceful, in violent combat outside my tent. A large number of very tiny ones were busily attaching themselves to legs and antennae of both fighters, who did not, however, greatly mind the small fellows, which were repeatedly shaken off as the pair moved along in deadly grip.

One of the combatants clasped his nippers firmly around one leg of the other, which for several hours struggled in vain to get free. A small ant was hanging on to one of the victor's antennae, but disappeared after a couple of hours. Under a magnifying-glass I could see that each fighter had lost a leg. I placed the end of a stick against the legs of the one that was kept in this merciless vice, and he immediately attached himself to it. As I lifted the stick up he held on by one leg, supporting in this way both his own weight and that of his antagonist. Finally, they ceased to move about, but did not separate in spite of two heavy showers in the afternoon, and at four o'clock they were still maintaining their relative positions; but next morning they and the other ants had disappeared.