Michael's Dispatches

Rifle and Pistol Club


19 April 2009

Brunei, Borneo Island

Monday morning I plan to visit some natives in a jungle in Borneo.  They still hunt using blowguns and poison darts, I’m told.  And their ancestors were headhunters.   The Iban are said to be very friendly these days, but make no mistake: Borneo is wild country.

So Sunday evening, I headed for a walk on a short jungle path in town to practice with some new camera gear that I bought in Malaysia for use in Afghanistan.  That’s when this man came walking by.  Check out the T-shirt.  Borneo is about as far from Florida as you can go without using a space rocket.  Like the other folks I’ve been meeting here, this gentleman was very pleasant and allowed me to make a photo.  He said he’d never been to Florida.

Coincidentally, there was an article in a local paper today about two men who were caught with firearms and ammunition.  The sentences include a caning and two long prison sentences.  If we had laws like this in the United States, I’d probably get several life sentences.  At least I’d be locked up with a lot of my friends.

And caning is a serious beating.  As with Singapore, crime is vanishingly low in Brunei.  Especially so compared to the crime that many of us experience in the United States.  The real world provides copious thought-fodder.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Max · 12 years ago
    I too travel there often and once walked into a bar and saw a guy with a t-shirt saying "So many beers, so little time... Brainard, MN". I was remarkably surprised, since I'm from MN. He too, had never been to where his shirt spoke.

    Miri, Malaysia is nearly a 2nd home, having been there on at least 15 trips, some lasting 6 weeks. The people there are wonderful. But DO BEHAVE, I've seen caning demonstrations and you DO NOT want to experience that!

  • This commment is unpublished.
    Don · 12 years ago
    First, Say hello to King Louie for me in Borneo (remember Jungle Book?)

    Saw some information that is interesting on Fox News with Huckabee - The United States of America has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the prision population in the world. So provide us some insight on that one. They also announced on ABC and Fox news that Atlanta now appears to be a major hub for Mexican Drug Cartel staging and distribution. The POTUS seemed to have painted himself into a corner where the only answer to the Drug Problem and gun running along with money laundering is "law and order" enforcement. I do not know how it can be otherwise. It will get interesting.

    Don to Yon
  • This commment is unpublished.
    C · 12 years ago
    Hello Michael, been a reader of your articles since the beginning of the Iraq war and your articles have provided me with some valuable insights about the world. I'm from Borneo Island and I'm glad that you decided to visit that forgotten corner of the world, if you have time you should visit North Borneo (Northern State of Sabah, Malaysia). Home to the tallest mountain on the Island and there is also a head hunter museum housing 4 skulls collected from a Dusun warrior a long time ago. Hope to read more interesting articles soon.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    RonF · 12 years ago
    A number of years ago National Geographic did a story on Peru. They had a picture of 5 Shining Path guerillas. These were stone killers, wearing clothes that looked like they'd lived in them the last few days, but their AK-47's looked in very good shape. They had bandanas over their faces to conceal their identities. But one of them was wearing a Chicago Bulls hat. Me, I thought it would make a great advertising poster for the Bulls' marketing efforts.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    F.T. Eyre · 12 years ago
    Are you returning to Iraq?
    There are a number of U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Projects that I think you'd find of interest.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Valerie · 12 years ago
    It goes without saying....these people have been disarmed and have not means to protect themselves. Need I say more......

    God forbid we allow ourselves to be legislated our of our constitutional right to bear arms...and God please see we are smart enough to prevent the coniving methods of the Obama administration and our "leaders" in congress. The only thing I've seen transparant in this new administration....is the back door approach intended to dismantle our rights to protect ourselves....meanwhile leaving us and our country wide open to people who wish us nothing but animosity free flowing over our porous borders.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Larry Sullivan · 12 years ago
    Gun laws not withstanding. I was in Borneo weeks ago. It was great. I can not recommend it enough. I met a guide who teached jungle survival tom British SF and some American SF. He was one of the most interesting people I have ever met. Be sure to get down to the Dunum Valley, the wildlife is incredible. My only warning would be to watch out for the bird watchers, they can eb pretty ,militant.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    JJ · 12 years ago
    Feel free to stop by for a chat if you have the chance.
    Jai 1 RGR!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Solomon2 · 12 years ago
    I'm not surprised about the T-shirt. I don't suppose most Americans think much about where our used clothes go. Sometimes we sell them on eBay, sometimes we donate them to charity - or we think that's what we're doing. The reality is that much of them end up as ship's ballast on return trips to third-world countries where they end up on the backs of fine young fellows like this one. I know of one fellow in the business, a multi-millionaire based out of - you guessed it! - Jacksonville, Florida.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    BK · 12 years ago
    Mike, I bet he certainly has been to Florida... it's the gunshine state ya know! I bet he went onto a gun store, filled out a 447 , got an NICS check to get that T-shirt legally. He's just lying to you b/c he thinks you might be onto him for smuggling 90% of the guns into Mexico!

    ...or maybe I'm wrong and it was a T-shirt straw purchase?

    Damn the NRA, we need to reinstate the ban on US assault T-shirts b/c they harm innocent Borneoans!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Southrider · 12 years ago
    Oh yeah, I remember him. I shoot at GRPC and, as best I recall, he first got pissed when he found out his blow gun didn't make 'major power factor' for IPSC. A week later he showed up at the IDPA match and couldn't fit it in the 'box'.

    As he clearly doesn't weigh enough to hang out with the cowboy action guys, guess he went back to the island.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    gus · 12 years ago
    very thought provoking & more so... it sure is ironic!!!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jenda · 12 years ago
    Ironic that this story comes directly after Joe Galloway's Torture Is Wrong story in the previous edition. I hate to go all French deconstructionist on you, but all punishment is abusive. Caning would be considered torture in the USA, but it seems to work even though it, unlike waterboarding, kills people occasionally, and I'd prefer a stiff caning to a six month prison sentence.

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