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Just married, my husband whisked me off to Miri on the Island of Borneo where I lived in a palace and was waited on by servants.

 

For the wives of oil field workers life was one round of shopping, bridge, golf and tennis. For the most part, children are at boarding schools back home - paid for by the company and husbands are on rigs in the South China Sea, so for women, life is one big social whirl! We didn't even have to clean up after ourselves. Why should we? Like Curly Locks in the old nursery rhyme: thou shall not wash dishes nor yet feed the swine, we never lifted a finger - our amahs took care of all the household chores.

 

An amah is the Asian name for a servant. All my married friends, had amahs, most of them were older Malaysian women who worked 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for a pittance. Back then in the 90's the going rate was MR$250 a month. Converted to Aussie dollars, that's about 35c an hour.Wives of men earning $10,000 a month plus free house, free car, free utilities, first class flights home for holidays and school fees paid for, at the best and most expensive schools, saw nothing wrong with this. As Mary-Grace from Calvary (not her real name), said to me,'They don't need much. I mean how much is a bag of rice."

 

The women who worked for ex-pats weren't complaining. They knew they had it good compared to the foreign girls who worked for the locals. The Chinese family who lived next-door to Mary Grace employed a Filipino. The first thing they did when she arrived was confiscate her passport so she couldn't runaway. Sleeping in a cupboard under the stairs - poky, stuffy,without a window and filled with the family's clutter, her duties went beyond housework and baby sitting - the male of the household took it as a given that she would sleep with him.

 

Not that the locals were the only ones to enjoy their amah's favours. Hundreds of single men and married men, (temporarily available), flocked to the oil town. I noticed their amahs were always the beauties, the delicate, ultra feminine Iban girls, straight from the jungle longhouses.

 

A lot of these men formed relationships with their amahs and, many of them married.and took their sweethearts back home. But, others, just used them as pretty playthings and forgot about them when their contracts were finished.

 

For three years, I was the only ex-pat, in my circle of friends, who didn't have an amah until I employed Jelimah ...

 

 

* * *

 

Borneo, the third largest island in the world, is a land of steamy, rain-sodden jungles and home to the Dayaks, fierce tribes who worshiped pagan gods and spirits and whose name is synonymous with headhunting. But Jelimah, a thoroughly modern Dayak Miss, had turned her back on the centuries old tribal way of life for the bright lights of Miri. a boom town, where a pretty girl could live in a house like a palace, and wear a different dress every day, not made with cloth she'd woven herself but purchased from glitzy shops crammed with jewels, creams and perfumes, shops with every delight imaginable to make her beautiful for the parties where she'd laugh and dance all night.

 

Jelimah was in a shop when my partner first met her - but serving, not buying. An assistant in a dry cleaners, she had swapped the steamy jungle for an even steamier environment and communal life in the longhouse for a cramped dormitory above the shop, shared with a dozen other starry-eyed wannabes.

 

There was no plumbing or power laid on in the jungle village in the back blocks of Sarawak, where every drop of water for drinking and cooking was drawn from the river. From as long as she could remember, it had been Jelimah's responsibility to fill the family's water pots at the riverbank and tote them back to the longhouse on stilts where she lived, at the end of a steep and winding jungle track.

 

She didn't have to go as far for drinking water in her new home- just as far as the toilet. The only available water for washing and drinking was scooped from the cistern - the water tank that flushes and fills the toilet.

 

Paranoid about coming down with dysentery or, ... worse, from the moment I'd arrived in Miri, I boiled our drinking water for three minutes, always said an emphatic no to ice and only drank Coke from cans. I was appalled when my partner recounted how Jelimah was living. Even now, I shudder at the thought of dipping a cup into a slimy tank and I was easily persuaded to offer her a job as a live-in amah.

 

For both of us it must have been equally mind blowing. At the time, I felt I was doing something special by opening up my home to her. Heck it was a palace ... so different to what I was used to in Perth. I supposed the deprived jungle girl thought she was in heaven. I mean, it wasn't as if she had anything to do. Apart from some token dusting and sweeping, I continued to do 99% of the household chores. Some people have a way with servants. Not me! For the best part of a month, I *****-footed round Jelimah treating her like a young relative I'd never met, over here on holiday who required entertaining.

 

How wrong can you be.? Jelimah wasn't happy and I now think she would have left her gilded cage sooner if she hadn't set her sights on entering a beauty pageant and needed a sponsor. I didn't hesitate and for the next six weeks everything took a backseat to winning Miss Miri.

 

Entering the Dayak beauty pageant was something of a family tradition. Jelimah's aunt has come first, years back and she was keen to follow in the legendary beauty queen's footsteps. The competition was only open to Dayaks. Dayak is a collective name for the indigenous people of Sarawak. However, it isn't a tribe - like Europeans, Dayaks come from many different tribes, each with its own distinctive culture, customs and language. Iban, Kelabit, Bidayuh, Kenyah and Penan are some of the tribes living in the jungles surrounding Miri.

 

Jelimah was an Iban the most populous and well known of the tribes. Her long house was situated in the back blocks of Kuching, the state capital. She told me she was one of 24 children. I didn't believe her at first. I mean, I have a friend whose mother gave birth to a baker's dozen and my partner has eight siblings. But 24!! Come on ... It turned out it was all true. Multiple births ran in the family- several sets of twins and triplets had swelled the juvenile ranks.

 

Jelimah never said anything to me about multiple births bringing misfortune. Be-Be told me. Be-Be was another Iban amah that I got to know; our partners worked together. She told me that her tribe believed that malevolent spirits were responsible for multiple births and that they brought bad luck. She said," It's what we believe. It's not just the family who'll suffer. The whole village will be harmed.Rice won't grow, there won't be any wild pigs to hunt, people will get sick and young women will give birth to dead babies."

 

A triplet herself, she was lucky to survive. Immediately after Be-Be and her siblings were born, they were abandoned outside a convent. Compassion was in short supply. Brought up as servants to the nuns, they were beaten for the smallest transgression and often went hungry. They weren't taught to read or write but that wasn't unusual. I doubt that they'd have fared any better in the education department in their village. However they would, I am sure, have been given the most basic of gifts - a name. Instead the nuns referred to them as A, B and C. Isn't that simply awful.

 

At least the nuns didn't break Be-Be's spirit because she did escape. How the friendless and penniless girl made it to Miri I don't know. But arrive there she did and found work too - in a bakery where she caught the eye of a Canadian Driller. Taking him up on his job offer - he was on the lookout for an amah, an intimate relationship developed. They have now been together for more than 15 years. Things worked out well for this Iban Cinderella. I hope A and C are happy too! But who knows they may still be confined to a life of thankless servitude in the jungle convent.

 

 

* * *

 

I?m not a big believer in fate. I lean toward: ?I am the captain of my ship and the master of my destiny? philosophy but sometimes, it seems like fate is determined to wreck your dreams. Take the day of the beauty pageant - everything that could go wrong went wrong, starting with a burst water pipe in the upstairs bathroom.

I had intended driving Jelimah to the beauty parlour ? she was having the works, hair, make-up and nails. Later the plan was to collect her after she?d morphed into a beauty queen but I had a flood on my hands, soon to be followed by another, because Jelimah turned on the waterworks too.

 

Sending Jelimah still weeping off in a cab, I spent a frustrating hour trying to find a plumber who understood English. By now water, was dripping through the ceiling into the living room below. Fortunately, the floor was tiled. Alas, that wasn?t the case upstairs. The bathroom was fitted with a thick Wilton carpet, mulberry, and the exact shade of the commercial-size spa and wall tiles.

 

It was dusk and I was still mopping up after the plumber and hoping the landlord wouldn?t blame me when Jelimah, exquisite in heavy Asian makeup her long glossy hair piled on top of her head, secured by jewelled clips, returned. She was accompanied by a stranger, a cousin skilled in the art of folding the traditional kebaya, the intricate blouse, dress worn by Dayak women. The girls disappeared into the bedroom. Their tinkling laughter came to an abrupt halt when ten minutes later the power went off.

 

Power black outs were a part of life in Miri and I was prepared. I found the candles and gave two to Jelimah. Deep channels in her inch thick make-up wouldn?t do and she bravely held back tears that sparkled in her brilliant eyes, I must admit I?d have cried too if I?d have had to get ready a big night in the dark.

 

I never have been keen on driving at night and Mary-Grace, an ex-pat like me was just as eager to cheer on Jelimah. She picked us up about seven in her car. The power was still off. ?But that doesn?t mean it will be off in Krokop too,? I reassured Jelimah, with a confidence I was far from feeling, considering the way our luck was running.

 

As expected, the building was in darkness. We parted company, Mary- Grace and I to a gloomy, stifling hall, Jelimah to hot and airless cramped upstairs room, where the humidity played havoc with the entrants? makeup and hair dos. It was 2 hours before the lights came back on.

 

Surprise! The beauty pageant wasn?t the only entertainment provided. The main event was preceded by a Malaysian song contest. It went on interminably. Possibly I would have enjoyed it more if there?d been a selection of songs; instead I sat through at least twenty presentations of the same song ? in Bahasa.

 

It was midnight before the pageant began. All the girls were utterly gorgeous, none more so than Jelimah. She didn?t win though and yes, there were tears. Jelimah insisted the contest was fixed. Maybe she was right, the winner was no prettier than the other girls but she did have the advantage of being the judge?s niece.

 

To crown off a catastrophic night - when Mary-Grace and I got back to the car, (Jelimah had gone to a night club with a party of friends and was spared this final calamity), the lights had been left on and the battery was as flat as a pancake.Two blondes 3.00 am in the wildest part of the wild, wild East and not another ex-pat to be found. We walked back to the hall. Luckily, the manager was still packing up and he generously drove us back to Pujat.

 

Next morning Jelimah told me she was quitting and she was in a hurry; her friends were waiting in the car. ?Have you got another job,? I asked, hovering as she packed? Although I felt slighted, after all I?d treated her more like a daughter than a servant, I didn?t begrudge her bettering herself

?Yes,? she replied. ?I?ve got my old job back at the dry cleaners.'

How sharper it is than a serpent?s tooth to have a thankless child!

 

 

* * *

 

Lots of children have never used public transport and a ride on a bus or a train for many preschoolers is exciting and more newsworthy than a flight on Virgin or QANTAS. It?s worth mentioning here that I was fourteen when I went up in a plane for the first time. We were about to emigrate to Australia and my father paid out a pound, in the old currency, for a five minute trip over Morecombe Bay.

 

I don?t know what type of plane but it looked like a Tiger Moth. It was certainly of that vintage. In 1959 air travel was beyond the means of working class families but entrepreneurs (possibly ex- wartime pilots that had survived the Battle of Britain), had snapped up RAF planes. The short trips they offered were a thrilling alternative to donkey rides on the sands at Blackpool, Southport and Morecombe.

 

The extravagant treat was unlooked for. Horse mad I would have preferred a ride on one of the donkeys. But I wasn?t consulted. Assisted migrants (ten pound poms), we were bound for a brave new and, what, I now think my father thought, was a backward world. I have never forgotten him telling us to make the most of the opportunity. We?d never get the chance to go up in a plane again. My father died three years before the birth of his great-granddaughter, Molly. He?d be amazed by the blasé attitude to air travel of a 4 year old frequent flyer.

 

But I digress - when I accompanied my partner, Cole to Miri, for the first time for years, I found myself without a car and with hours and hours of time on my hands. Before he went to work the first day, he warned me never, ever to go into Miri on my own. I think he felt confident that I had no alternative than to stay put because, like many non-users of public transport, it never entered his head that I would hop on a bus.

In the five years that I spent in Miri, I never saw another ex-pat on the bus with the result that I became somewhat of a local celebrity. I never had to stand, someone was always ready to give up their seat to me and strangers would regularly offer to pay my fare

 

One incident that stands out in my memory was a conversation with a fellow passenger. The tribal Dayak told me about life in his longhouse, stories about a world that is disappearing as fast as the jungle that once covered the entire island of Borneo. Just before his stop, he asked me if I would like to see an image of his tribe?s old king and he took the medallion he was wearing from around his neck.

 

It was with great reverence, he handed me the ornament. Immediately, I recognized Edward V11?s head on the drilled half-crown, (two shillings and sixpence in the old currency). When I was a child it was still common to receive old coins, particularly pennies with the heads of former monarchs. Edward the V11 coins were rare but not as rare as his mother Queen Victoria. I was surprised I?d expected the King to be a Malaysian sultan or one of the White Rajahs, the Brookes, an English dynasty that founded and ruled the Kingdom of Sarawak from 1841 to 1946.

When I handed back the medallion, I told him that Edward had also been my king too and the former head-hunter swelled with pride to learn that the king of Sarawak had once ruled over England. How did I know my new friend had taken a head? Well he didn?t tell me, he didn?t need to. His fingers were covered with tattoos known as tegulan. Each tattoo corresponded with the taking of a human head.

 

You meet the most interesting people on public transport.

 

 

* * *

 

 

It was to be expected that we would socialize with Bryn (not his real name). When you're living in a foreign country you gravitate to your own countrymen and there weren?t a lot of Australian?s living in Miri. Like 90% of the men working in the oil town, Bryn worked for Shell but he was an entrepreneur from way back and it wasn?t long before he opened his own bar.

 

In the 90?s you couldn?t open a business in Miri without taking on a Bumiputra partner. Bumiputra is the Malaysian term for the indigenous people of Malaysia, the Dayaks. It means son of the land but it was a daughter of the land that Bryn took on as his Bumiputra partner.

Already a victim, Rosie had been deserted by her husband and she was struggling to bring up six children without any financial assistance from her ex or the government. In Dayak culture the family bond is strong and when Bryn offered Rosie a job, as his live-in amah, her sister offered to look after the children.

 

Although Bryn had a wife and family back in Australia, it wasn?t long before he and Rosie were in a relationship. Imagine how she felt when Bryn told her about his plans to open a bar and offered her a partnership. For a poor uneducated woman with no prospects but a life of drudgery, it must have been like winning first prize in a lottery.

Once a cheat always a cheat and it wasn?t long before Bryn was cheating on Rosie. When she went back to her longhouse for Gawai (the Dayak harvest festival), Bryn took off for the duty free island of Labuan with Flora, a pretty young barmaid. The last thing Rosie did, before she set off in happy ignorance for a re-union with her children was to take in the large box addressed to Bryn that she found on the veranda.

 

A week later when Bryn returned the whole house ponged, blood had seeped from the box, dripped from the table and pooled on the floor. Someone had sent Bryn the severed head of a pig minus one ear. When he was a teenager Bryn had come off a motorbike and he?d lost his outer ear. You didn?t need to be Einstein to figure out who the pig represented!

That evening my partner and I went to Bryn?s for a few drinks and he told us about finding the pig?s head and showed us the blood-stained note he?d discovered at the bottom of the box. It warned him that if he continued playing around with Muslim women there?d be another head in a box and it also would only have one ear.

 

Unlike the guy in 'The Godfather' who woke up with a horse's head in bed beside him, Bryn seemed unfazed. Anyone, with any sense, would have got out of town. I mean this was the wild, wild East and I?d heard stories of ex-pats who had accidentally run down a child being hacked to death by the relatives.

 

I don?t know what else Bryn did to get on the wrong side of the locals but on two occasions gangsters broke into the premises and broke up the place. Maybe he had refused to pay protection money. Any way word got round. Work colleagues, frightened for their safety stopped patronizing the bar. Bills mounted up and Bryn did a runner leaving poor old Rosie with all the debts.

 

Last thing I heard Bryn had talked himself into a $300,000 job in Nigeria.

 

 

* * *

 

When I first went to live in Miri on the Island of Borneo, there were none of the modern shopping centers or department stores that I was used to back home in Australia. There were plenty of strange little shops selling everything from plastic Buddhas to 100 year old eggs to tiger balm and, at first, I?d been as intrigued as any Western tourist but after two years I?d started to dream of endless supermarkets, extensive malls, trendy boutiques and major departmental stores.

 

 

Kuala Belait (KB), the second largest city in Brunei was only 120kms away and I went there regularly to buy Diet Coke which you couldn?t get in Miri but mainly to renew my tourist visa. You see my visa was only good for a month but that was never a problem because we lived close to the border between Malaysia and Brunei. Every time I returned from my regular monthly shopping expedition in KB, the Malaysian immigration officers would extend my visa for another 4 weeks hence the attraction. But while the supermarket stocked more Western food lines, what was on offer in the local shops, in the way of fashion, make-up and accessories, was on par with Miri.

 

Members of my bridge group talked about Yohannes, a world class store in Bandar Seri Begawin (BSB), the capital of Brunei and home to the Sultan, then the richest man in the world. Yohannes sold everything you?d expect to find in a world-class store like Harrods or Macey?s. I was in dire need of a shopping fix and my friend, Clare felt the same. When she suggested we take a trip to BSB, I jumped at the chance.

 

BSB was another 120 kms further than KB - too far for a day trip. But, with both our partners working on a rig in the South China Sea for another fortnight, we were fancy free. As excited as schoolgirls, we set off for Brunei.It took a lot longer than we?d thought to travel 240kms. There was always a long wait for the ferry ride across the Belait, the river that divides Brunei and Malaysia and rather, than waiting in turn, many of the locals just pushed in.That day it was worse than usual and when we eventually reached the immigration station on the Malaysian side of the border, it was closed.

 

Generally immigration stations close for two hours between 12 and 2. As a result, we didn?t get to BSB until after five.Not to be deterred from our mission, we booked into the hotel, dumped our bags, asked for directions and set out on our quest. The concierge told us that the quickest route was through Kampong Ayer (the Water Village).

 

About 39,000 people live in ramshackle wooden shanties built on stilts in the river. It's a well-known tourist attraction but as I looked around, I noticed we were were the only foreigners. As we walked along a complex web of waterways, the sun was setting and I felt a twinge of uneasiness. It might look quaint and picturesque by daylight, but something told me this was not the pace for two blonds to be walking unattended in the dark. Clare felt the same and we both, agreed to come back in a taxi.

 

 

By now, it was dark and the neighborhood was deserted. In the distance, we could see the bright red letters of Yohannes? neon sign. Leaving the Kampong we walked toward the beacon, feeling discouraged because it still seemed miles away. Just ahead we could dimly see a field. It may have been a soccer pitch or some kind of playing field, but it was too dark to see if there were goal posts.

?What do we do now?? asked Clare, looking dubiously at the wide drainage ditch between the road and the field.

 

It was obviously going to add another 30 minutes to our journey if we walked around the perimeter of the field and I replied, ?We jump.?

 

Now Clare and I made an odd couple. For a start Clare, 15 years younger, is tall, fit and athletic while I?m short and haven?t exercised since I left school in 1960. Wouldn't you think, if anyone was going to fall in the brink, it would have been me? But I cleared the filthy ditch with inches to spare. Clare wasn?t so lucky.

 

I helped her out but her legs were caked with foul-smelling mud. Ploughing on in silence, you can't blame Clare for not seeing the funny side, we cut across the field and ten minutes later, rolled up at the entrance of a very impressive building. The washroom was near the entry and very posh ? no wonder - the Sultan?s wives and daughters shopped at Yohannes.

Clare had her leg in the wash basin and was attempting to scrape off the excrement when in walked three princesses in luxurious, silk robes like something out of an Arabian Night?s dream. Sooo embarrassing!!

Luckily, there was a telephone box handy. I phoned every taxi company in the directory. All the numbers rang out. A passerby, when questioned, told us taxis in BSB only operated until 4pm, no kidding!

 

Despite the mishap (my word choice, not Clare's), we'd been luckier than we deserved. Walking back would really have been pushing the envelope. I phoned the hotel, explained the situation and within half an hour we were back in our room. The last thing Clare said to me before turning out the light was that she?d never go anywhere with me again.

 

 

* * *

 

 

Tatts are hot, the trendy 'in' accessory but you may be surprised to know that for the Dayaks, the Indigenous people of Borneo, a tattoo ismore than a fashion statement, it is a badge of honour. In Miri, you could recognize headhunters, (warriors not human resource scouts), by their tattoos. Like notches etched into gunslingers' pistols, the fingers of headhunters are tattooed with mythical creatures known as tegulan. Each tattoo corresponds with the taking of a human head. As a westerner, it was hard for me to understand the attraction but I learnt that Dayaks believe the soul lives in the head and when beheaded, their victim's status, strength, skill and power is transferred to their slayer.

 

 

I saw a number of elderly tribesmen with tegulan on the streets of Miri but, it wasn't until I visited a jungle longhouse with ancient human heads tied up with rattan hanging in bunches from the rafters, that I saw tribal women with tattoos. Young women with the skill to produce cloth, mats and baskets are much sought after. The talented ones are tattooed. Easily identified they can pick and choose from their suitors. But more importantly a tatoo is the equivslent to a free pass to the afterlife.

 

 

Traditionally, Dayaks believe that only the souls of men and women with hand tattoos - symbols of their success at headhunting and weaving are able to cross the River of the Dead where they are reunited with their ancestors. The unworthy, the ones without tattoos, are cast into the river by Maligang, the malevolent guardian of the bridge where they are devoured by Paton, a giant catfish. Head hunting was banned in the 19th century but it proved difficult to eradicate. One can't help but wonder if it doesn't continue deep in the forbidding rain forests because I have seen Dayak men with both hands covered with tegulan and, in their ears ornaments made from the beak of the helmetted- hornbill, carved to resemble the canine tooth of a tiger-cat. Indisputable proof, they have taken heads.

 

 

* * *

Does anything supernatural actually exist? Around fourteen years of age, like most teens, I started to question the beliefs and values that I had swallowed without chewing. Blind faith was the first casualty. Now, over fifty years on, though I endorse Christian ethics and morality, I remain a committed atheist and so I was skeptical when Joyce, an ex-pat from the UK whom I got to know when I was living in Borneo, told me that she was living in fear of a malevolent bomah. A bomah is the Malaysian term for a medicine man or witch doctor, the equivalent of a tribal shaman. Like shamans, bomahs are supposedly blessed with the gift to communicate with the spirits of the deceased and to intercede on behalf of the living.

 

 

In times gone by Dayaks, the Indigenous tribes of Borneo were ancestor worshipers who lived in fear of offending the vengeful spirits that surrounded them. Headhunting, the taking a human head, was the chief way of appeasing and gaining the goodwill of ancient spirits but they also consulted bomahs when their gifts failed to satisfy their ancestors' insatiable appetite for human sacrifice.

 

Today, while many Dayaks have abandoned their longhouses in favour of city life, they continue to consult Bomahs. Revered because of their affiliation with the supernatural and the occult, bomahs allegedly possess the gifts of prophecy and healing but are feared because, sometimes they use their supernatural powers to harm individuals who have injured or offended them.

 

I was absolutely certain that paranormal or supernatural phenomena didn't exist and said as much

when Joyce told me that a bomah had warned her that if she didn't give him a thousand ringgit, (a ringgit is a Malaysian dollar), he would put an evil spell on her. I couldn't believe that she could take such rubbish seriously. "Tell him that you'll curse him back," I told her jokingly, like Roger, one of the characters in The White Amah. who refused to give his amah, Rubiah money to pay a bomah to release her from a spell. Mocking her beliefs, he called her an ignorant little jungle bunny. His arrogant response mirrored my own dismissive attitude to non-western doctrine.

 

Writing gives one the opportunity to reflect on personal experiences and when I constructed Roger as indifferent and unresponsive to unfamiliar ideas, I was having a dig at my own closed attitude. Maybe ... just maybe, there's more in heaven and on earth than we can ever know, as someone considerably wiser than I remarked around five hundred years ago.

 

 

* * *

 

In a few hours, my son, Duncan and his partner, Jaine will be arriving home after taking delivery of a yacht and sailing it from Surfer's Paradise to Fremantle with minimal knowledge of seafaring and things nautical. From the sound of it the journey was uneventful, which is a bad thing in a way, because we learn more from a **** good scare than from parental warnings. But, I have to admit that I'm no shining example.

 

It's been some time since some friends and I set sail from Labuan, a small island off the coast of Borneo for a few hours fishing in the South China Sea. It was a perfect day. The sky was cloudless, the azure sea was smooth and sparkling and there's nothing, absolutely nothing better than flying through the foam with a wave creaming the ledge of the boat.

 

We dropped the sea anchor about thirty kilometres west of the island and that's when we remembered that we'd forgotten to bring any bait. It looked like we'd have to forget about fishing but then we spotted another vessel. My partner took off his shirt and waved it madly and the smack changed directions.

 

Soon the ramshackle, leaky old craft was bobbing up and down alongside. None of us could speak Bahasa and so we used gestures and mime to explain that we wanted to buy a fish. The twenty ringgit identified us as wealthy tourists, ripe for the taking, and within minutes the single solitary fishing boat had swelled to a mini armada.

 

A month before a group of pirates had killed a fisherman and taken his boat but we knew nothing of that. The authorities had a policy of suppressing information about the explosion of piracy and we had no idea that we were courting danger.

 

Unlike the the four American tourists on a world tour who were hijacked and killed by pirates in the Indian Sea in February, we came out of the incident poorer but unscathed. However, I now realize that we were lucky not to have been taken hostage. The large sums paid out in ransom money is encouraging more and more poor Filipino and Indonesians to exchange their fishing nets for AK-47's, RPG's and semi-automatic pistols with the result that two ships a week are being hijacked.

 

So while there's nothing absolutely nothing better than messing about in boats ... perhaps, it's wiser to stay at home!

 

It is estimated that there are approximately 100 tribes still living as hunter gathers, mainly in Brazil, Peru, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. Like the villagers in my novel "The White Amah' these stone-age people are in grave danger of being forced off their land by multi-national timber logging companies that plunder and destroy the precious environmental habitat and centuries old way of life.

 

Ann Massey

 

 

http://www.annmasseyauthor.net/

 

Author of:

The White Amah, a mystery set against the backdrop of the timber logging industry in Malaysia. Sample or purchase:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1456578065

 

The Biocide Conspiracy, a Young Adult thriller that sweeps readers into the world of biowarfare. Sample or purchase;

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1456503367

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Jun 7, 2018 8:59 AM Farrukhnawaz    says:

Its hard to to so but making adjustment with partner may get the life move in heaven. Good try to reveal the real life. Prize bond draws