Inner Trip: Borneo’s Jungle Spirits Eye Revenge

The traveller heads for the interior of Borneo. Their destination is Belaga, 100km northeast of Kapit along the Ranjang River. It is a small place, accessible only by water. The traveller, picturing themselves as some kind of new Livingstone, becomes excited at the thought of rainforest isolation. They take their seat in the river craft, unaware of the whispering man behind them. 

The landscape is alien to them, as is the atmosphere. Their neighbour notices their perplexion. ‘This is the river, it’s important to us,’ says the newcomer, their eyes gleaming with an intelligence far in advance of the traveller’s. They motion toward the rainforest, brooding impassively as the river churns at its feet.

‘Spirits live in the jungle,’ continues the monologue. ‘There are strange currents here. They are unhappy.’ Logging operations run wild in Borneo and the traveller recalls the devastation wrought around Kapit. Acres of verdant forest, lost forever to the whims of development.

‘Ghosts have been here a long time. They have power. You see them, you understand. They will not let things change,’ the newcomer states, a quiet defiance imbuing her words with the quality of steel.

The traveller, indulging in a reverie of dark jungles, ancient folklore and an unknowable quest, wonders what form of revenge lurks in Belaga.

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