Fairchild Tropical Garden Expedition aboard the Cheng Ho 1939-1940
FEBRUARY 1940
 
 
 
 
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MARCH 1940
 
 
 
 
 
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APRIL 1940
 
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MAY 1940
 
 
 
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MAY 1940
25

Bacan Island, Indonesia

Written by Edward Beckwith on Saturday, May 25, 1940

Giant Pandanus on Bacan Island, Indonesia.
Giant Pandanus on Bacan Island, Indonesia. Photographed by Edward Beckwith.
Hugo Curran and Edward Beckwith on Bacan Island
Hugo Curran and Edward Beckwith on Bacan Island. Photographed by David Fairchild.
Coastal forest on Bacan Island
Coastal forest on Bacan Island. Photographed by Edward Beckwith.
Cycad on islet along shore of Bacan Island
Cycad on islet along shore of Bacan Island. Photographed by David Fairchild.
David, Hugo, and I went off in the large launch specimen hunting on Bacan. David was at last on Bacan, the island that he had read and heard so much about, and had looked forward to for so long. We landed near some native houses, engaged two natives to come along and started on a trail inland. There was a group of large Pandans near the trail which were larger than any that David or Hugo had seen. I photographed them thoroughly after Hugo and the natives had cleared the jungle of everything in the way. We then continued upward for some time, David holding on to Hugo’s belt from behind for support. Nothing more appeared of particular interest. David sat down to rest and we talked at ease in a way which was not possible when Anne and Marian were along. He said he would like to return and die here, and seemed depressed over world conditions.

After returning to the beach we followed the shore in both directions without finding anything more remarkable than a pair of large lizards over two feet long.

We stopped at the native house where there were several women and children and David made them presents of tobacco and toy balloons, which pleased the parents as much as the children.

The launch came back but was unable to come all the way in on account of the shallow beach. David went out to it in a small native prau. On account of the outrigger on the prau it was difficult to come close enough for him to get aboard. He ended by getting wet and being hauled aboard by Ah Gun and Hugo. The natives watched the proceedings from shore and I have seldom seen such hilarity. Some of them were unable to sit up on the beach from laughing. The sight of big David, all in white, being hauled into the launch was something to make anyone laugh.

As we started back we saw Marian and Anne on shore hunting for shells. They had Ah Fook and the small launch.

A storm was coming up as we reached the Cheng Ho.

At lunch Anne was greatly incensed at David; first because he had not asked her if she wanted to go along this morning and 2nd, because he had not stopped with the large launch to offer a tow as the large launch was much faster and would have gotten them back sooner.

After lunch a heavy rain started and continued on and off till 5.

We have used up half our supply of fresh water and cannot get more until we reach Zamboanga and can come up to the dock there, unless rain can be collected from the awning. Anne became very active in trying to devise ways to collect all the water possible and got me to help her. This was a worthy object but she went so far as to change the setting of the awning over the chart table on the upper deck so that there was danger of getting the charts wet. Kilkenney refused to help and was in a constant argument with her. He was more incensed than I have seen him on the whole trip, while Anne was in a good humor and filled with activity. He told me he was going to do just as little as possible from now on.

One time at our last anchorage he suddenly held forth in the dining room to Hugo, Fenton and I: “One damned woman trying to dictate to everyone and tell them what to do.”  He then went out alone to a beach on one of the small islands and relaxed in the sun all afternoon.

Through Anne’s activities we collected so much rain water that all tanks, all bathtubs and every receptacle on board that would hold water was filled. She succeeds in accomplishing things, but her manner is so unpleasant that she creates dislikes everywhere.

She had been more pleasant to me than the others and told me this afternoon that my pipe did not smell as badly as it used to.

At 5 Anne asked me to go ashore with her and Marian to the Chinese store to select some material for a shirt she proposed to make for me. Nearly everyone, or in fact everyone, has come in for one of these shirts which are rather ill fitting but colorful. This is my second. We selected a batik at the store which was not only a very large price but was so beautiful in design that I hated to see it made into a shirt. I therefore suggested that as it was so large she exchange it with me for one of the sarongs I had already bought and make me a shirt out of that! She readily consented, and is now making me a shirt of a light green color. She says that these shirts are to improve the men’s appearance at the dinner table!

David, Ted, and I discussed the advisability of leaving here tomorrow and decided to sail in the morning for a small port on Halmahera. Ted thought it a good policy to keep moving to prevent our whereabouts becoming known. Anne wanted to stay another day to go and see the large Pandans but was over ruled and did not insist.

 

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