The pigs were
then hauled on top of a fire built in a pit in the ground; and they were left
there until each animal swelled up to a puffy mass—blackened and odoriferous.
They were then crudely carved with razor-sharp knives made from thin pieces of
bamboo. The heat of the sun at noontime, the fires, the smoke and the stench of
burning flesh was terrific.
After the meal
Ray asked the natives to sing again, hoping to catch it on a beat-up tape
recorder he had hauled up from the valley. They started feebly, but soon worked
themselves into a frenzy and sang in some amazing primitive harmony,
accompanying themselves on their drums. I was sitting down and they began to
close in, partly out of curiosity and partly from excite-man;. They were almost
on top of us, and all I could see were hundreds of big, black horny feet and
the blunt ends of the ceremonial spears—a really creepy feeling. It was an
experience I shall never forget.
13: Armed with a bottle of malaria pills, box lunches, a bit of English reading
matter and instructions from Doc (Dr. Edwin Pyle) not to drink anything but
bottled water, Ray and I arrived at the large train station in Bangkok. We were
going north to visit the teak forests and photograph the elephant herds working
the huge logs.
We were on our
way from 6 p.m. one night till 5 p.m. the next, being hauled along by a
Japanese wood-burning engine.
After 24 hours on
the train, we arrived at Chiangmai and learned that there were elephants
definitely working some 86 kilometers south of the city. We rode down, believe
it or not, in a taxi, and the first thing we saw when we arrived at the camp
was an elephant tied to a tree. As we walked to meet the Siamese foreman, we
counted 14 more. To our amazement the foreman announced that he would have four
of them hitched up in the noon sun to work so we could take pictures. What a
Yankee had gone on to Singapore, where Ray and I joined her after a long series
of train rides, the last aboard a Malayan train that took 24 hours going
through some territory that was partially held by Communist guerrillas.
bristled with well-armed British troops. As we rode along in the night, our
train was protected by a "pilot train," or armored rail car that
preceded us by about 500 yards, sweeping the track with light, looking for
possible derailments and mines. It's funny how calm I felt. Actually, though,
when you are this close to danger, you rarely think about it.
Bali, Oct. 10:
This place is difficult to describe for, like Tahiti, Bali is an
"atmosphere," or a way of life, that is almost impossible to put into
words. From the brilliant, sunbaked seashore to the great plateau area of
terraced rice fields, and the chill mountain resort where we had to wear
sweaters and socks to bed, Bali is almost totally unspoiled.
The natives here
believe strongly in reincarnation, and we were fortunate in seeing one of the
biggest cremations in years. When a Balinese dies, his body is buried until
someone really important also dies. This may be years later, but the bones are
exhumed to be burned with "the important person" in order to save the
soul from the devil properly. In the ceremony we saw there were about 50
mourners. Each carried a package about the size of a ham, containing the
remains of their deceased. The bones were wrapped in white and decorated with
Chinese coins and bits of colored paper. As a small group of men did a wild
dance, brandishing staffs and singing to the weird music of the clanking
orchestra, the long line filed to the end of a tall, flimsy ramp, where the
bundles were passed, bucket-brigade fashion, to the top of a high pagodalike
structure. Both ramp and pagoda were then raised up on the shoulders of many
men and borne down a narrow path toward the cremation site, swaying as the
bearers began to run with them, screaming and shouting, while two men high up
on the pagoda wailed and threw rice over the crowd. We stepped back to avoid
being trampled. Dodd Harris jumped just in time to avoid being hit by an arm
that had fallen out of one of the bundles as the tall pagoda became more and
lined up once more, received their bundles again and put them inside the many
wooden effigies of bulls lined up in the center of the cremation site. Then
they lit the fire. They burned everything—effigies, bodies, pagoda and mounting
platform, and the spirit of gaiety increased as they stood back and cheered.
Almost nothing survived the flames except the skeletons of the wooden bulls
which remained standing, though charred and black.