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An anthropological diary... with a detour to Penan and Batek

Updated: Jan 4

by Lye Tuck-Po

Originally posted in my old blog, on March 14 2009 03:15:00 AM

It's been a long day of intensive work. I must have worked late last night too: restless sleep, then woke up at 11:30! Straight to work. Reading one main text, digitally; consulting another, a thick book, which sits next to the laptop. I'm not reading to relax. It's all for research and fieldwork: I'm collecting useful notes and observations, drawing up research questions, compiling a field vocabulary. Took a break to photograph the mists rolling off the mountains [below]. Around 4:30 I cycled to town, thinking it was time for lunch and to shop for dinner. Lunch at 4:30! Ran into some friends; whiled away an hour over tea and chat. Back home; back to work. It's enjoyable; the material is fascinating; I'm focused and concentrated. But my shoulders are aching. Break time again...

Mists rising from hilltops, Kuala Kubu Bahru, Malaysia, 13/4/2009
Mists rising from hilltops, Kuala Kubu Bahru, Malaysia, 13/4/2009

I checked my photos. The ethnographic context I was working on was the Penan of Sarawak. The "thick book next to the laptop" I was consulting was Peter Brosius' unpublished manuscript "The Penan of the Belaga district: considerations for development", an excellent resource that I still turn to from time to time. I was living in Kuala Kubu Bahru at the time. Over a year later I moved to Penang and started my teaching career. Above was one of the photos I mentioned in the diary excerpt. It's a little green but never mind. The Batek have a wonderful word for "mists rising" - yim-yɛm. For when the mists are covering the peaks (as in this photo), their word is sərəluʔ. I knew the first word, yim-yɛm, from before but just learnt the second word - sərəluʔ. You never stop learning in the field.
Here's another photo I took while strolling around, admiring my neighbours' floricultural skills:
I travelled a lot that year. It was good to come home to my little den in Kuala Kubu Bahru and just work. Take photos of the neighbours'. Cycle out to town for shopping and meals. See friends. Relax.


Brosius, J. Peter. 1987. The Penan of the Belaga district: considerations for development.

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Dec 16, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Nice. Keep them coming.

Dec 16, 2023
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