compiled and introduced by Victor T. King
The Best of Borneo Travel is just that, a fascinating collection of colorful travel notes by Westerners--from those who first visited this Indonesian island-nation in the the sixteenth century to writers still enthralled by Borneo today. Through the eyes of these European explorers, merchants, administrators, and adventurers we see the kinds of images that captivated the popular imagination of Europe, as well as the stereotypes that developed regarding Borneo's "exotic" peoples and cultures. We witness first-hand the wonders of the equatorial rainforest: animals such as the orang utan, the beautiful flowers and trees that abound along the rivers and rapids, majestic mountains like Kinabalu, sacred to the Borneans. And in some of the nineteenth century accounts we see a reflection of the prevailing social Darwinism of the period--the "natural" assertion of Western political, military, and economic superiority over the "Wild Men of Borneo."<br> Nevertheless, many travelers to Borneo writing here remarked on the wealth and cultural sophistication of the native peoples, and after the first flush of colonialism, the accounts returning to Europe become more balanced--while the interest in the new and strange continues, it is tempered with descriptions of people that are, as people are everywhere, "just like us."