The kapala cleared the way with his parang, and just before dusk we arrived at the balei, a large structure which the people had taken as a permanent abode, having no houses and possessing ladangs near by. Many fires were burning inside, round which the families had gathered cooking rice, and my entire party also easily found room. The kapala at once sent out five men to gather the necessary coolies for the continuance of our journey the following day.

The carriers were slow in coming, and while waiting in the morning I catalogued four baskets which my messenger had brought from Tappin and a few more which I was able to buy here. The woman from Tappin, who accompanied my man, was even better informed than Dongiyak. She knew designs with remarkable certainty, and it was gratifying to be able to confirm information gathered before, also in two instances to correct errors. Many of the designs seemed familiar to the men standing around, for they, too, without being asked, would sometimes indicate the meaning correctly.

This done, I again inspected the balei, accompanied by the kapala who himself was a blian; he and the others were perfectly willing to give any information about customs and beliefs, although equally unable to do so. The dancing space in the middle was rectangular, about eight metres long, lying nearly east and west. It was about thirty centimetres lower than the remainder of the floor, on which I counted nineteen small rooms, or rather stalls. In the middle of the dancing place was a large ornamental stand made of wood, twice as high as a man, from which were hanging great quantities of stripped palm leaves. From the western part of the stand protruded upward a long narrow plank, painted with simple curved designs representing nagah, the great antoh, shaped like a serpent and provided with four short curved fangs stretched forward. The people could not be induced to sell the effigy because it was not yet one year old.

The country was uneven and heavy for travelling, or, as the carriers expressed it, the land was sakit (Malay for "ill"). There were more mountain ranges than I expected, rather low, though one we got a fine view of two quite impressive mountains. Here and there on the distant hillsides ladangs were seen and solitary houses could be discerned. On our arrival in the first kampong we were hospitably offered six young cocoanuts, considered a great delicacy even among white people. Although I do not much appreciate the sweetish, almost flavourless water of this fruit, they proved very acceptable to my men, as the day was intensely hot for Borneo.

At the kampong Belimbing, by taking out on of the walls which were constructed like stiff mats, I obtained a good room in the pasang grahan, but the difficulty about getting men increased. The kapala, or pumbakal, as this official is called in these parts, was obliging and friendly, but he had slight authority and little energy. He personally brought the men by twos and threes, finally one by one, and he worked hard. When finally we were able to start, still a couple of men short, he asked to be excused from accompanying me further, to which I readily assented. There were too many pumbakals who graced the expedition with their presence. I believe we had four that day who successively led the procession, generally with good intentions to be of assistance, but, in accordance with their dignity, carrying little or nothing, and receiving the same payment as the rest. However, it must be conceded that their presence helped to make an impression on the next kampong which was expected to furnish another gang of carriers.

We managed to travel along, and finally reached the last Dayak kampong, Bayumbong, consisting of the balei and a small house. The balei was of limited proportions, dark, and uninviting, so I put up my tent, which was easily done as the pumbakal and men were friendly and helpful. All the carriers were, of course, anxious to return, but as they were engaged to go to Kandangan I told them they would have to continue, promising, however, to pay for two days instead of one and to give them all rice in the evening. These people are like children, and in dealing with them a determined but accommodating ruling is necessary.

The journey was less rough than before, though we still passed gulches over which bamboo poles afforded passage for a single file, and soon the road began to be level. It was not more than four or five hours' walk to Kandangan, but rain began to fall and the men each took a leaf from the numerous banana trees growing along the road with which to protect themselves. On approaching the village we found two sheds some distance apart which had been built conveniently over the road for the comfort of travelling "inlanders." As the downpour was steady I deemed it wise to stop under these shelters, on account of the natives, if for no other reason, as they are unwilling carriers in rain.

The house of a Malay official was near by, and after a few minutes he came forth in the rain, a servant bringing a chair which he offered to me. Feeling hungry, I inquired if bananas were purchasable, but without immediate result. He was naturally curious to know where I came from, and having been satisfied in that respect he went back to his house, soon returning with bananas and a cup of tea. Hearing that I had been three weeks without mail and was anxious to have news of the war, he also brought me two illustrated Malay periodicals published in Amsterdam. Alas! they were half a year old, but nevertheless, among the illustrations were some I had not seen before. This was a worthy Malay and not unduly forward - he was too well-mannered for that.

The rain having abated somewhat we soon found ourselves in Kandangan, where the curiosity of Malays and Chinese was aroused by our procession. Neither the assistant-resident nor the controleur were at home, but the former was expected next morning. Many Malays, big and little, gathered in front of the pasang grahan, where the man in charge could not be found, but a small boy started in search of him. After half-an-hour the rest of our party began to come in, and forty-five wet coolies with their damp burdens filled the ante-room of the pasang grahan, to the despair of the Malay custodian who belatedly appeared on the scene. Notwithstanding the unpleasantness of the crowded room I did not think it right to leave the poor carriers out in the rain, therefore had allowed them to remain. The burdens having been freed from the rattan and natural fibrous bands by which they had been carried, these wrappings - a load for two men - were disposed of by being thrown into the river. Gradually the place assumed an orderly aspect and Mr. Loing and I established ourselves in two quite comfortable rooms.

Through fortunate circumstances the assistant-resident, Mr. A.F. Meyer, was able to arrange to have our old acquaintance, the river-steamer Otto, to wait for us at Negara and take us to Bandjermasin. His wife had an interesting collection of live animals and birds from the surrounding country. She loved animals and possessed much power over them. A kitten of a wild cat of the jungle, obtained five days previously, was as tame as a domesticated specimen of the same age. She stroked the back of a hawk which was absolutely quiet without being tied or having its wings cut. He sat with his back toward us and as she stroked him merely turned his head, immediately resuming his former position. All the birds were in perfect plumage at that time, the month of November, and in fine condition.

We came to a number of beautiful rails, males and females, from the large marshes of the neighbourhood; the birds were busily running about, but at sight of her they stopped and emitted clacking notes. From the same marshes had been obtained many small brownish ducks with exquisitely shaded coats. The snake bird, with its long, straight, sharp beak and long, thin neck, she said was dangerous, and she teased him to thrust his head through the rails. Finally she took from a cage two musangs which were resting and pressed them against her chest. They were as tame as cats. It was curious to note that when walking they held their tails so that a loop was formed in the middle.

In Negara are many high-gabled houses, which I was told are Bandjermasin style; at all events, they form the original Malay architectural pattern in Borneo. The town is strongly Malay and famous for its boat-building. The gondola-like boats of ironwood that attract the attention of the stranger on his first visit to Bandjermasin, come from this place. Mosquitoes were troublesome in the surrounding marshes; nevertheless, I understand there is no malaria.

In this and similar sections in the vicinity of Bandjermasin it is noticeable that Malay women and girls whiten their faces on special occasions, doubtless in imitation of Chinese custom. The paint, called popor, is made from pulverised egg-shells mixed with water, and, for the finest quality, pigeons' egg-shells are utilised. Where there is much foreign influence Dayak women have adopted this fashion for festal occasions. At harvest time, when both Dayak and Malay women wear their best garments, the faces of the women and the little girls are painted.

My expedition of three weeks had proved successful mainly on account of the unexpectedly well-preserved knowledge of decorative designs which I encountered among the Bukits. Otherwise they are slowly but surely yielding to the Malay influence to which they have been exposed for hundreds of years. Only the comparative inaccessibility of the country has prevented their complete absorption.