This is Pak Uning Laut's boat. The haze sits heavy. We were heading to collect tourists from a turtle hatchery on the tip of the cape. At the tip of the cape there were no turtles there, only tourists
The stakes of experience occur in the immediate interstices of its coming to be, I read. Between these images and videos and stories are other stories that unfold other natures and the problems trying to capture something of this essence.
3. The underwater locations of coral reef restoration projects. The cemetery that smells of pandan. The rock that cries like a baby. A border that coincides with a mountain range.
We laugh in the background of repetition and difference. Supralittoral. And the sea air sinks into the paper.
Things emerge and re-emerge, between them are fine lines, ecologies, lines of dependence.
6. Alam overlap, intersect, exchange. Alam like a sponge draws in.
5. Pak Uning tells me a story about working at the turtle islands, monitoring female turtles which come in nightly to lay eggs. Riding in on each turtle are invisible antu laut, sea spirits - turtles are their horses - says Pak Uning. The antu cause trouble on the beach, kacau the human workers, pinching them poking them pushing them into holes, then disappear once the turtles leave. The antu come and go, are present, there and not there, spoken of and not. Bottom trawling nets, warming seas, silted run-off from plantations into rivers then into the sea, bleaching coral reefs - I ask Pak Uning if the antu are also affected. No, he laughs, they’re in a different alam.
A terrapin hatchery / migrant workers / Plantation societies / experimental conservation / theft and appropriation of labour / a turtle tag
we laugh, licking the knees of the mangrove trees
7. A story about semah rituals held by local Malay and indigenous Salako communities that took place at the turtle islands until the year 2000. The rituals involved a mock battle between communities, who would throw thousands of rotting turtle eggs at each other - one element of a wider ritual to appease antu laut and request the fertility and safe return of laying turtles to the beaches. Pak Uning tells me, it was always a windy day, no matter how good the weather was in the morning, the wind would always pick up when we arrived at the island. While the Malays performed doa selamat, the Salako would undertake nyemah offerings. A space where two neighbours could negotiate alongside each other across multiple alam. The practice was stopped in the year 2000, when the Forestry Department took over control of the turtle islands from the Museum and turtle conservation took singular precedence / no member of the public has set foot on the islands since.
hearts and minds, a cold war mantra re-appropriated as cosmopolitical strategy
7. The routes, irridescent and transitory as a rainbow, cross at all points the network of binary dynamics extended by the West. The result is a text that speaks of a critical coexistence of rhythms, a polyrhythmic ensemble whose central binary rhythm is decentered when the performer (writer/reader) and the text try to escape "in a certain kind of way."
(Antonio Benítez Rojo, The Repeating Island, p.28)
8. cooked and eaten a green turtle, a totally protected species carrying a maximum jail sentence of 5 years. There’s nothing wrong with eating a turtle, said a friend, there just aren’t enough turtles to go around
We laugh - supralittoral - and spit on the coastline. The trawling nets snort, the disoriented juvenile crabs titter, the sediment carries us to the corals, blotting out the sun. Laughing is divergence -
8. On the map, he marks the location of Karang Beranyut: the great manta ray with an island on her back that sometimes rises from the sea to save shipwrecked sailors. A friend of his capsized and spent days living off crabs from the rocky reef on the ray’s back. Like a rock in the ocean. When the rescue boat arrived, the manta ray retreated back beneath the waves, an island disappearing.
9. Sarawak Gazette March 31 1963 p.54-55
10. “There, while the old monk recited prayers and invocations, Her Royal Highness, daughter of the dreaded and mighty Sea Dragon King deity was released. As she went back into her own element she went into and out over the water three times, each time stretching out her royal neck to look hard and long at us. Then she sank away from sight and while we all repeated the “Lam Boo Oh Mee Toh Hood”, she disappeared to join the denizens of the deep.”
Our laughter ripples along the hulls of moored boats, resounds off the legs of an oil-rig, laps at the ports of Japan
9. river-flow, tide-flow, creek-flow