Shortly after my arrival in Tandjong Selor, fifty Dayaks, mostly Kenyahs, Oma Bakkah, and some Kayans, arrived from distant Apo Kayan on a trading expedition, and I considered this rather fortunate, as it would largely solve the difficult question of prahus and men for my journey up the river. The controleur and the Sultan also co-operated in assisting me to make a start, but when at last all seemed in readiness, the Malays allowed one of our prahus to drift away down toward the sea; after other similar delays I finally began my expedition up the Kayan River.

At the old pasang-grahan near Kaburau, I found that during our two weeks' absence surprising changes had taken place in the vegetation of the immediate surroundings. The narrow path leading from the river up the embankment was now closed by large plants in flower, one species looking like a kind of iris. The grass which we had left completely cut down had grown over twenty centimeters. (Three weeks later it was in bloom.) It was the month of March and several big trees in the surrounding jungle were covered with masses of white blossoms.

It is about 112 kilometres from Tandiong Selor to Long Pangian, our first halting-place, and, as the current of the river is not strong until the last day, the distance may be covered in four days. When low the Kayan River is light greenish-brown, but when high the colour changes to a muddy red-brown with a tinge of yellow. We used the dilapidated pasang-grahans as shelters, but one night we were obliged to camp on the river bank, so I had the tall, coarse grass cut down on the embankment, which was a few metres higher than the beach. Underneath the tall growth was another kind of grass, growing low and tangled like a mat, which could be disposed of by placing poles under it, lifting it and rolling it back, while at the same time the few roots attaching it to the ground were cut with swords. In less than fifteen minutes I had a safe place for my tent.

The Dayaks, however, who have little to concern them except their prahus, in which is left whatever baggage they may have, as usual slept in the prahus or on the stony beach. During the night the river rose a metre, and some of the men awoke in water. The Chinese mandur, notwithstanding my warnings, had tied his prahu carelessly, and in the middle of the night it drifted off, with lighted lamp and two Dayaks sleeping in it. Luckily some of the others soon discovered the accident and a rescuing party brought it back early in the morning. The "kitchen" had been moved up to my place, and in spite of rain and swollen river we all managed to get breakfast. I had a call from the chief of the near-by kampong, who spoke excellent Malay, and had visited New Guinea twice on Dutch expeditions, once with Doctor Lorenz. One characteristic of the climate which had impressed him much was the snow, which had been very cold for the feet. He was kind enough to send me a present of a young fowl, which was very acceptable.

Long Pangian is a small settlement where ten native soldiers are kept, under the command of a so-called posthouder, in this case a civilized Dayak from the South, who met us at the landing in an immaculate white suit and new tan shoes. It was warmer here toward the end of March than at Tandjong Selor, because there had not been much rain for a month. The soil was therefore hard, and in the middle of the day so heated that after a shower it remained as dry as before. A few Chinamen and Bugis who live here advance rice and dried fish to the Malays to provision expeditions into the utan which last two to three months, receiving in return rubber and damar. The Malays come from lower down on the river, and a good many of them leave their bones in the jungle, dying from beri-beri; others ill with the same disease are barely able to return to Long Pangian, but in three weeks those who do return usually recover sufficiently to walk about again by adopting a diet of katsjang idju, the famous green peas of the East Indies, which counteract the disease. The Malays mix native vegetables with them and thus make a kind of stew.

The rice traded in Borneo is of the ordinary polished variety, almost exclusively from Rangoon, and it is generally supposed that the polishing of the rice is the cause of this illness. The Dutch army in the East seems to have obtained good results by providing the so-called silver-fleeced rice to the soldiers. However, I was told that, in some localities at least, the order had to be rescinded, because the soldiers objected so strongly to that kind of rice. Later, on this same river, I personally experienced a swelling of the ankles, with an acceleration of the heart action, which, on my return to Java, was pronounced by a medical authority to be beri-beri. Without taking any medicine, but simply by the changed habits of life, with a variety of good food, the symptoms soon disappeared.

It is undoubtedly true that the use of polished rice is a cause of beri-beri, because the Dayaks, with their primitive methods of husking, never suffer from this disease, although rice is their staple food. Only on occasions when members of these tribes take part in expeditions to New Guinea, or are confined in prisons, and eat the rice offered of civilization, are they afflicted with this malady. In my own case I am inclined to think that my indisposition at the commencement of my travels in Borneo was largely due to the use of oatmeal from which the husks had been removed. Rolled oats is the proper food.

Modern research has established beyond doubt, that the outer layers of grains contain mineral salts and vitamines that are indispensable to human life. Facts prove that man, if confined to an exclusive diet of white bread, ultimately dies from malnutrition. Cereals which have been "refined" of their husks present a highly starchy food, and unless they are properly balanced by base-forming substances, trouble is sure to follow. Scurvy, beri-beri, and acidosis have been fatal to many expeditions, though these diseases no doubt can be avoided by a judicious selection of provisions that insure acid and base forming nutrition in the right proportion. [*]

[Footnote *: For an illuminating example of poorly balanced food, see Physical Culture Magazine, New York, for August, 1918, in which Mr. Alfred W. McCann describes the disaster to the Madeira-Mamore Railway Company in Brazil, when "four thousand men were literally starved to death on a white bread diet." In the July number may be found the same food expert's interesting manner of curing the crew of the German raider Kronprinz Wilhelm, which in April, 1915, put in at Newport News, in Virginia, with over a hundred men seriously stricken with acidosis. The crew had enjoyed an abundance of food from the ships they had raided and destroyed, but a mysterious disease, pronounced to be beri-beri, was crippling the crew. As the patients failed to respond to the usual treatment, the ship's chief surgeon consented to try the alkaline treatment which Mr. McCann suggested to him. The patients rapidly recovered on a diet consisting of fresh vegetable soup, potato-skin liquor, wheat bran, whole-wheat bread, egg yolks, whole milk, orange juice, and apples. No drugs were administered.

It may be added that Dr. Alfred Berg (in the same magazine, September, 1919) recounts the cure of an absolutely hopeless case of stomach trouble by the vegetable juice prepared according to McCann's formula. He has found the results gained by the use of this soup in diet "so remarkable as to be almost unbelievable."

The formula in question, as taken from McCann's article, is: "Boil cabbage, carrots, parsnips, spinich, onions, turnips together for two hours. Drain off liquor. Discard residue. Feed liquor as soup in generous quantities with unbuttered whole-wheat bread."]

As a precautionary measure during my further travels in Borneo I adopted the green peas of the Orient in my daily diet, and when properly cooked they suit my taste very well. Every day my native cook made a pot of katjang idju, to which I added as a flavour Liebig's extract, and when procurable different kinds of fresh vegetables such as the natives use. Almost any kind of preserved vegetables or meat, especially sausages, is compatible with this stew, which is capable of infinite variations. For a year and a half I used it every day, usually twice a day, without becoming tired of it, and this regimen undoubtedly was the reason why the symptoms of acidosis never reappeared.

I may add that besides this dish my main food was milk and biscuits, especially those made of whole wheat. In the tropics no milk will keep beyond a certain time limit unless it is sweetened, which renders it less wholesome. I found Nestle &Company's evaporated milk serviceable, but their sterilised natural milk is really excellent, though it is expensive on an expedition which at times has to depend on carriers, and in mountainous regions like New Guinea it would be impracticable to carry it. Under these conditions one is content to have the evaporated or the sweetened brand. Sterilised milk, although perhaps a luxury, is a permissible one when travelling by boat, but the fact that it remains sound only a limited time should be borne in mind. However, it helped me to resist the adverse conditions of travel in the equatorial regions, and to return to civilisation in prime physical condition. When I had opportunity I ate the rice of the Dayaks, which is not so well sifted of its husks, and is by far more palatable than the ordinary polished rice. I found the best biscuits to be Huntley and Palmer's College Brown, unsweetened.

As regards one's native companions, the Dayaks or Malays are quite satisfied as long as they get their full rations of rice and dried fish. This is the food they have always been accustomed to and their demands do not go further, although cocoanut-oil for frying the fish adds to their contentment. Katjang idju was usually given them if there was sugar enough to serve with it; they do not care for it unsweetened. I have dwelt at some length on the food question, because information on this subject may prove useful in case others are tempted to undertake journeys of exploration and research in the East Indies. To have the right kind of provisions is as important in the equatorial regions as in the arctic, and civilised humanity would be better off if there were a more general recognition of the fact that suitable food is the best medicine.

Our Dayaks from Apo Kayan, who had proved very satisfactory, left us at Long Pangian. They had to wait several days before their friends caught up with them, so they could continue their long journey. This party of Dayaks, after spending one month at home in gathering rubber, had travelled in five prahus, covered some distance on land by walking over the watershed, and then made five new prahus in which they had navigated the long distance to Tandjong Selor. Ten men had been able to make one prahu in four days, and these were solid good boats, not made of bark. Already these people had been three months on the road, and from here to their homes they estimated that at least one month would intervene, probably more.

The rubber which they had brought was sold for f. 2,500 to Hong Seng. They had also sold three rhinoceros horns, as well as stones from the gall-bladder and intestines of monkeys and the big porcupine, all valuable in the Chinese pharmacopoea. Each kilogram of rhino horn may fetch f. 140. These articles are dispensed for medical effect by scraping off a little, which is taken internally with water. On their return trip the Dayaks bring salt from the government's monopoly, gaudy cloths for the women, beads, ivory rings for bracelets and armlets, and also rice for the journey. Should the supply of rice become exhausted they eat native herbs.

At Long Pangian we were able to develop plates effectively by hauling clear and comparatively cool water from a spring fifteen or twenty minutes away. By allowing six cans (five-gallon oil tins) of water to stand over night, and developing from 4.30 next morning, we got very good results, though the water would show nearly 76 F. My kinematograph was out of order, and desiring to use it on my journey higher up the river, I decided to go again to Tandjong Selor in an endeavour to have it repaired. The delay was somewhat irritating, but as the trip down-stream consumed only two days, I started off in a small, swift boat kindly loaned to me by the posthouder. Fortunately Mr. J.A. Uljee, a Dutch engineer who was in town, possessed considerable mechanical talent: in a few days he succeeded in mending the apparatus temporarily.

As I was preparing to return, another party arrived from Apo Kayan. They were all Kenyahs, Oma Bakkah, who came in seven prahus, and proved so interesting that I postponed my journey one day. The government has put up a kind of lodging-house for visiting Dayaks, and the many fine implements and utensils which these men had brought with them made the interior look like a museum. Their beautiful carrying-baskets and other articles were standing in a continuous row around the walls. These Kenyahs did not seem to have been here before and were agreeable people with whom to deal. I have not, before nor since, seen such a tempting collection of the short sword of the Dayak which has grown to be almost a part of himself. In the northeast these famous swords are called mandau, but the designation parang is more extensively used, and I shall employ that name. One exceedingly fine one, belonging to the chief, I purchased for three sets of ivory rings, each set at fifteen florins, and one sarong. In the blacksmith's art the Dayaks have reached a higher level than the otherwise more advanced Malays and Javanese. There were three women in the party. One of the men was dressed as a woman and his hands were tatued. Though his voice was quite manly, there was something feminine about him and in appearance he was less robust than the others. According to my Chinese interpreter, who has travelled much, there are many such men in Apo Kayan.

I stopped over night at one of the Bugis settlements which have large pineapple plantations. Such delicious pineapples as those in northern Borneo, with an unusual abundance of juice and very slightly acid, I had never before tasted. A gigantic white rat, about the size of a rabbit, which had been caught working havoc with the pineapples, was offered me for sale alive. I afterward regretted that, owing to the great difficulty of transportation, I declined, as no doubt it was a rare, if not a new, species.

In the evening, on my return to Long Pangian, I went to bed in the old pasang-grahan which I occupied there. It consisted of a single large room and had an air of security, so for once I omitted to tuck the mosquito-net underneath me. But this was a mistake, for some animal bit me, and I was awakened by an intense pain on the left side of my head which became almost unbearable, then gradually subsided, and in two hours I slept again. I applied nothing to the affected area because of the impossibility of locating the bite. On the left side of my neck at the back soon developed two balls of moderate size which had not quite disappeared four years afterward. Next day I found a large dark-coloured spider which no doubt was the culprit. When chased it made long high jumps on the floor, but was finally captured. After that occurrence I paid strict attention to the mosquito-net, and when properly settled in my bed for the night I felt as safe against snakes or harmful smaller animals as if I were in a hotel in Europe.