Having arranged various matters connected with the expedition, in the beginning of December we made our final start from Bandjermasin in the Otto, which the resident again courteously placed at my disposal. Our party was augmented by a military escort, under command of Onder-Lieutenant J. Van Dijl, consisting of one Javanese sergeant and six native soldiers, most of them Javanese. At midday the surface of the water was absolutely without a ripple, and the broad expanse of the river, ever winding in large curves, reflected the sky and the low jungle on either side with bewildering faithfulness. At night the stars were reflected in the water in the same extraordinary way.

In order to investigate a report from an otherwise reliable source about Dayaks "as white as Europeans, with coarse brown hair, and children with blue eyes," I made a stop at Rubea, two or three hours below Muara Tewe. It was a small and sad-looking kampong of thirteen families in many houses. Several children were seen, a little lighter of colour than usual, but their eyes were brown, and there was nothing specially remarkable about them nor the rest of the people whom the kapala called from the ladangs. Children lighter than the parents is a usual phenomenon in black and brown races. There was, however, one four-year-old boy conspicuous for his light hair and general blondness, who was different from the ordinary Dayak in frame and some of his movements; he was coarsely built, with thick limbs, big square head, and hands and feet strikingly large. There could be no doubt about his being a half-breed, neither face nor expression being Dayak. One hare-lipped woman and a child born blind were observed here. Other kampongs in the inland neighbourhood, mentioned in the same report, were not visited.

On our arrival at Puruk Tjahu the low water at first made it doubtful whether the Otto would be able to proceed further, but during the night it rose five metres, continued rising, and changed into a swollen river, as in springtime, carrying sticks and logs on its dirty reddish waters. After a foggy morning the sun came out and we had an enchanting day's journey, the movement of the ship producing a soft breeze of balmy air after the rainy night and morning. We passed a timber float stranded on high ground, with Malay men, women, and children who had been living there for weeks, waiting for the water to rise again as high as where it had left them. They evidently enjoyed the unusual sight of the steamer, and followed us attentively.

In the afternoon we arrived at Poru, a small, oppressively warm kampong, deserted but for an old man and one family, the others having gone to gather rattan in the utan. This was to be our starting-point, where our baggage would have to be put in convenient shape for travel in boat and overland, and where we hoped it might be possible to buy prahus and obtain men by searching the kampongs higher up the river. In this we were disappointed, so the lieutenant went back to Puruk Tjahu, in the neighbourhood of which are many kampongs, nearly all Malay, there as well as here. He took with him one soldier who had proved to have an obnoxious disease, leaving us with five for the expedition, which we deemed sufficient.

On Christmas day I bought from an old Dayak a large, ripe fruit called in Malay nangca (artocarpus integrifolia) of the jack fruit family. It is very common. Before maturing it is used as an every-day vegetable, which is boiled before eating. I was surprised to find that when fully ripe this fruit has an agreeable flavour of banana, but its contents being sticky it is difficult to eat. The sergeant, with the culinary ability of the Javanese, prepared for the holiday a kind of stew, called sambil goreng, which is made on the same principle as the Mexican variety, but decidedly superior. Besides the meat or fish, or whatever is used as the foundation, it contains eight ingredients and condiments, all indigenous except red pepper and onions.

In the ladangs is cultivated the maize plant, which just then was in condition to provide us with the coveted green corn, and carried my thoughts to America, whence the plant came. Maize is raised on a very limited scale, and, strange to say, higher up the river the season was already over. At Poru we tried in vain to secure a kind of gibbon that we heard almost daily on the other side of the river, emitting a loud cry but different from that of the ordinary wah-wah. Rajimin described it as being white about the head and having a pronounced kind of topknot.

As far as we had advanced up the Barito River, Malay influence was found to be supreme. The majority of the kampongs are peopled by Malays, Dayaks at times living in a separate section. This relation may continue at the lower courses of the tributaries, yielding to a Dayak population at the upper portions. In the kampongs, from our present camp, Poru, up to the Busang tributary, the population continues to be subject to strong Malay influence, the native tribes gradually relinquishing their customs, beliefs, and vernacular. But back from the river on either side the Dayak still easily holds his own.

The old kapala of Poru had an attractive eight-year-old granddaughter, of a singularly active and enterprising disposition, who always accompanied him. He called my attention to the fact that she wore a solid-looking gold bracelet around each wrist, a product of the country. In the dry season when the river is low two or three hundred Dayaks and Malays gather here to wash gold, coming even as far as from Muara Tewe. The gold mixed with silver is made into bracelets, wristlets, or breastplates by these natives.

The lieutenant had been unable to secure more than sixteen men, all Malays, which was insufficient for the six prahus we had bought. Therefore it became necessary to travel in relays, the lieutenant waiting in Poru until our men and prahus should return from Telok Djulo, for which kampong the rest of us started in late December.

After considerable rain the river was high but navigable, and two days' travel brought us to a rather attractive kampong situated on a ridge. Rajimin accompanied by Longko, the principal one of our Malays, went out in the evening to hunt deer, employing the approved Bornean method. With a lamp in the bow the prahu is paddled noiselessly along the river near the bank. Rusa, as a large species of deer are called, come to the water, and instead of being frightened are attracted by the light. Rajimin, who was of an emotional and nervous temperament, missed two plandoks and one rusa, Longko reported, and when he actually killed a rusa he became so excited that he upset the prahu.

We started before seven o'clock on a glorious morning, January first. On the river bank some trees, which did not appear to me to be indigenous, were covered with lovely flowers resembling hibiscus, some scarlet, some yellow. I had my men gather a small bunch, which for several hours proved attractive in the prosaic Malay prahu. The equatorial regions have not the abundance of beautiful flowers that is credited to them by popular belief. The graceful pitcher-plants ( nepenthes) are wonderful and so are many other extraordinary plant creations here, but they cannot be classed as beautiful flowers in the common acceptation of the word. There are superb flowers in Borneo, among them the finest in existence, orchids, begonias, etc., but on account of the character of their habitats, within a dense jungle, it is generally difficult to see them. The vast majority of orchids are small and inconspicuous, and in hunting for magnificent ones the best plan is to take natives along who will climb or cut down the trees on which they grow.

On the third day the river had become narrow and shallower, and early in the afternoon we arrived at Telok Djulo, a kampong of Ot-Danums interspersed with Malays. It is composed of many houses, forming one side of an irregular street, all surrounded with a low fence for the purpose of keeping pigs out. The storehouses recalled those of the Bulungan, with their wide wooden rings around the tops of the supporting pillars, to prevent mice from ascending. Outside of the fence near the jungle two water-buffaloes were always to be seen in the forenoon lying in a mud-pool; these we were warned against as being dangerous. These Dayaks, who are shy but very friendly, are said to have immigrated here over thirty years ago. They are mostly of medium size, the women stocky, with thick ankles, though otherwise their figures are quite good. The Ot-Danum men, like the Murungs, Siangs, and Katingans, place conspicuously on the calf of the leg a large tatu mark representing the full moon. When preparing to be photographed, men, women, and children decorate their chests with crudely made gold plates shaped nearly like a half moon and hanging one above another, generally five in number. One of the blians was a Malay.

Here we had to stay two weeks, while the remainder of our baggage was being brought up and until a new station for storing goods had been established in the jungle higher up the river. Rajimin had an attack of dysentery, and although his health improved he requested permission to return, which I readily granted notwithstanding his undeniable ability in skinning birds. He was afraid of the kihams, not a good shot, and so liable to lose his way in the jungle that I always had to have a Dayak accompany him. It is the drawback with all Javanese that, being unaccustomed to these great jungles, at first they easily get lost. Rajimin joined a few Malays in building a small float, on which they went down the river. Several Malays aspired to succeed him as taxidermist, but showed no aptitude. I then taught one of our Javanese soldiers who had expressed interest in the matter. Being painstaking and also a good shot, the new tokang burong (master of birds), the Malay designation for a taxidermist, gave satisfactory results in due time.

One day while I was taking anthropometric measurements, to which the Ot-Danums grudgingly submitted, one of them exhibited unusual agitation and actually wept. Inquiring the reason, I learned that his wife had jilted him for a Kapuas Dayak who, a couple of nights previously, when the injured man was out hunting wild pigs for me, had taken advantage of the husband's absence. Moreover, the night before, the rival had usurped his place a second time, compelling the husband to go elsewhere. The incident showed how Dayak ideas were yielding to Malay influence. He was in despair about it, and threatened to kill the intruder as well as himself, so I told the sergeant to strengthen the hands of the kapala. I could not prevent the woman's disloyalty to her husband, but the new attraction should not be allowed to stay in the house. This had the effect of making the intruder depart a few minutes later, though he did not go far away. The affair was settled in a most unexpected manner. The kapala being absent, his substitute,bonhomme mais borne, and probably influenced by her relatives, decided that the injured husband must pay damages f. 40 because he had vacated his room the night he went out hunting.

We procured one more prahu, but the difficulties of getting more men were very great, one reason being that the people had already begun to cut paddi. Though the new year so far brought us no rain, still the river of late had begun to run high on account of precipitation at its upper courses. High water does not always deter, but rapid rising or falling is fraught with risk. After several days' waiting the status of the water was considered safe, and, leaving three boatloads to be called for later, in the middle of January, we made a start and halted at a sand slope where the river ran narrow among low hills, two hundred metres below the first great kiham. Malay rattan gatherers, with four prahus, were already camped here awaiting a favourable opportunity to negotiate the kihams, and they too were going to make the attempt next morning. As the river might rise unexpectedly, we brought ashore only what was needed for the night.

Next day at half-past six o'clock we started, on a misty, fresh morning, and in a few minutes were within hearing of the roar of the rapids, an invigorating sound and an inspiring sight. The so-called Kiham Atas is one kilometre long. The left side of the river rises perpendicularly over the deep, narrow waters, the lower part bare, but most of it covered with picturesque vegetation, especially conspicuous being rows of sago palms. The prahus had to be dragged up along the opposite side between big stones. Only our instruments were carried overland, as we walked along a foot-path through delightful woods, and at nine o'clock the prahus had finished the ascent.

Not long afterward we approached the first of the four big kihams which still had to be passed and which are more difficult. Having been relieved of their loads the prahus were hauled, one at a time, around a big promontory situated just opposite a beautiful cascade that falls into the river on the mountainous side. Around the promontory the water forms treacherous currents. Above it eight or nine Malays pulled the rattan cable, which was three times as long as usual, and when the first prahu, one man inside, came into view from below, passing the promontory, it unexpectedly shot out into the middle of the river, and then, in an equally startling manner, turned into a back current. This rapidly carried it toward an almost invisible rock where Longko, who was an old hand on this river, had taken his stand among the waves and kept it from foundering. The Malays were pulling the rattan as fast as they could, running at times, but before the prahu could be hauled up to safety it still had to pass a hidden rock some distance out. It ran against this and made a disagreeable turn, but regained its balance.

The next one nearly turned over, and Mr. Demmini decided to take out the kinema camera, which was got in readiness to film the picturesque scene. In the meantime, in order to control the prahu from the side, a second rattan rope had been tied to the following one, thereby enabling the men to keep it from going too far out. This should have been done at the start, but the Malays always like to take their chances. Though the remaining prahus did not present such exciting spectacles, nevertheless the scene was uncommonly picturesque. After nine hours of heavy work, during most of which the men had kept running from stone to stone dragging rattan cables, we camped on a sand-ridge that ran out as a peninsula into the river. At one side was an inlet of calm, dark-coloured water into which, a hundred metres away, a tributary emptied itself into a lovely waterfall. A full moon rose over the enchanting landscape.

At half-past six in the morning we started for the next kiham, the so-called Kiham Mudang, where we arrived an hour later. This was the most impressive of all the rapids so far, the river flowing between narrow confines in a steady down-grade course, which at first sight seemed impossible of ascent. The river had fallen half a metre since the day before, and although most kihams are easier to pass at low water, this one was more difficult. The men, standing in water up to their arms, brought all the luggage ashore and carried it further up the river. Next the prahus were successfully pulled up, being kept as near land as possible and tossed like toys on the angry waves, and pushed in and out of small inlets between the big stones. In three hours we effected the passage and in the afternoon arrived at Tumbang Djuloi, a rather prettily situated kampong on a ridge along the river.

I was installed in a small house which was vacant at one end of the little village, the greater part of which is Malay. There were two houses belonging to Ot-Danums which I found locked with modern padlocks. Nearly all Malays and Dayaks were at the ladangs, where they spend most of their time, remaining over night. Coal, which is often found on the upper part of the Barito River, may be observed in the bank of the river in a layer two metres thick. It is of good quality, but at present cannot be utilised on account of the formidable obstacle to transportation presented by the kiham below.

Our Malays soon began to talk of returning, fifteen of the twenty-four men wanting to go home. Payment having been refused until the goods left below had been brought up, a settlement was reached and the necessary men, with the sergeant, departed for Telok Djulo. In the meantime we began to convey our belongings higher up the river, above the next kiham, where they were stored in the jungle and covered with a tent cloth.

After the arrival of the luggage which had been left behind, there was a universal clamour for returning home, the Malays professing great disinclination to proceeding through the difficult Busang country ahead of us. Even those from Puruk Tjahu, who had pledged themselves to continue to the end, backed out. Though wages were raised to f. 1.50 per day, only eight men remained. To this number we were able to add three Malays from the kampong. One was the Mohammedan guru (priest), another a mild-tempered Malay who always had bad luck, losing floats of rattan in the kihams, and therefore passed under the nickname of tokang karam (master of misfortune). The third was a strong, tall man with some Dayak blood, who was tatued. Djobing, as he was named, belonged to a camp of rattan workers up on the Busang, and decided to go at the last moment, no doubt utilising the occasion as a convenient way of returning.

I was glad to see him climb down the steep embankment, carrying in one hand a five-gallon tin, neatly painted, which had opening and cover at the long side, to which a handle was attached. Under the other arm he had the usual outfit of a travelling Malay, a mat, on which he slept at night and in which were wrapped a sheet and a few pieces of light clothing. His tin case was full of tobacco and brought forth disparaging remarks from the lieutenant, who was chary of the precious space in the prahus.

Having successfully passed the censor Djobing was assigned to my prahu, where he soon showed himself to be a very good man, as alert as a Dayak and not inclined to save himself trouble. He would jump into the water up to his neck to push and steer the prahu, or, in the fashion of the Dayaks and the best Malays, would place his strong back under and against it to help it off when grounded on a rock. When circumstances require quick action such men will dive under the prahu and put their backs to it from the other side.

There was little chance of more paddling, the prahus being poled or dragged by rattan, and many smaller kihams were passed. We entered the Busang River, which is barely thirty-five metres wide at its mouth, flowing through hilly country. The water was low at that time, but is liable to rise quickly, through rains, and as it has little opportunity for expansion at the sides the current flows with such violence that travel becomes impossible. The most difficult part of our journey lay before us, and the possibility of one or two, or even three months' delay on account of weather conditions is then taken as a matter of course by the natives, though I trusted to have better luck than that.