(Book Recommendation: Herman Hesse/The Glass Bead Game)
The last couple of weeks have passed in a blur, I’ve been buzzing around on a ridiculous pink motorbike, surfing at sunrise and then working all day following leads and distractions, moving all my stuff from house to house through rice fields and past endless gamelan drenched temples. Turns out I was probably suffering from hypochondria rather than dengue and after a couple of days bathing in cold water I started feeling much better.
I’m up in the mountains now, been swimming in the freezing mountain streams and dozing off on the rocks in the sunshine. At the moment I’m sitting in front of my little cabin looking out over the paddy fields that stretch all the way down to the ocean on the horizon. I’ve got all my notebooks laid out in front of me, trying to piece together a logistics plan for the Bajau Project.
I’m still trying to decide where to start; the choices are South Philippines, Eastern Malay Borneo, Kalimantan or Sulawesi. There’s no shortage of leads – I have an Indonesian friend here in Bali who’s directly descended from the Bajau in Kalimantan, in fact her great great grandfather was the Raja Laut (king of the sea), and could apparently walk on water, then I met a woman in Raja Ampat who had worked with nomadic Bajau as part of her work for an NGO up in north Sulawesi and I also have a phone number (which apparently works once a month – seemingly at random) for a French guy called Ryan who has married a Bajau woman and settled in a Bajau community in South Sulawesi.
There are of course all sorts of complications, the south Philippines is very unstable at the moment and there’s sadly been quite a few murders of foreign journalists and aid workers recently, there’s also the problem of the Malaysian government’s rigid view of commercial documentary making, not just in terms of visas and fees but also in terms of censorship. I’m also planning to work with a videographer who’s currently in Singapore and very patiently waiting for the go ahead, plus I have another assignment in China which I really need to shoot first…
Odalan Ceremony, Buahan Village, Central Bali.
Read more instalments from James Morgan’s amazing photo diary here