2013-01-14

back on track...

Two months of travel have passed already...it's a kind of blur...although we've been keeping up with facebook, posting photos and short travel updates (if you'd like to take a look, please search for Anja Light) - we haven't been stable enough around an internet cafe to be able to update the blog...my apologies!
I've been keeping some notes - so I'll slowly begin to post them here - though it may take longer to include photos...
For me, the most emotional and moving and reaffirming experience has been to revisit Sarawak. To my surprise, our journey went quite well - not only were we able to reconnect with the Penan and campaigners in the ongoing struggle for the forests, but we were able to introduce our dear Slow friend Keibo Oiwa to the people and forest of Sarawak, Borneo. Our prayer continues to protect these forests and support these people who have never given up...

So, here is the first of the notes I have kept...more to come very soon...



Sarawak
Heart thumping at immigration - the officer slowly processes our passports - we're in.
It's surreal. So many, many years ago I left this place. And with so many visions of being turned back at the final outpost. But perhaps it has been years since our activities have been considered a threat - the tide of destruction,exploitation so strong that nothing can hold it back...
Trying to be so secret means that it has been almost impossible to really prepare our movements from here, but we find a hotel and arrange to meet one of the key campaigners here.
There's not much good news. Basically the logging dwindled during the mid 90's as the timber ran out and there was more and more conversion to palm oil. Now there's around a million ha of a projected 3 million - the same goes for timber plantations.
But the word on everyone's lips in this area now is the series of massive dams that is set to inundate vast areas of forest and people's homelands. SAM works to document people's traditional claims to the lands using GPS systems for court challenges. Penan groups blockade the roads and have had some 'success' in claiming more compensation.
The Cheif  Minister's name is still sacrosanct and  no one dares to utter the truth of his most blatant profiteering over the past 30 years.
Miri is a large town now - logging company offices dotted around the business district, palatial houses dotting the outskirts - the gap between the rich and poor like a chasm...
We took a taxi to the beach ( I wanted ti show the kids where I had buried my passport) - the water was brown and bubbly but that didn't deter the many people who had also come down to enjoy the sunset and an evening meal in the many food stands be the shore.
We managed to arrange a visit upriver - starting with a horror drive to Marudi. Nine of us plus the driver and our luggage squeezed into a 4 wheel drive on a mud track through 2 hours of oil palm. The jolting aggravated my toothache and I spent of the way in agony! It seemed appropriate somehow...it matched the pain in my heart to come back to a place so ravaged...
We decided to avoid the car if we could and opted for a river trip to the next stop of Long Lama where we to meet with the car to go further up river. As we arrived after our 4 hour journey the rain came, monsoon rain and our car didn't make it - so another night in a Borneo jungle frontier town...
We shelter from the rain in a small restaurant where the ubiquitous TV blares out MTV ... globalisation is well and truly here - people have all but lost control of their destinies...

We find out that our car is stuck in a flash flood caused by the downpour..we are stuck in L Lama for the night.
We do the rounds looking for a place to stay...it really is a frontier town and the best place has seen many better days!

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