Fairchild Tropical Garden Expedition aboard the Cheng Ho 1939-1940
MARCH 1940
 
 
 
 
 
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APRIL 1940
 
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MAY 1940
 
 
 
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JUNE 1940
 
 
 
 
 
 
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JUN 1940
9

Toetoehoe and Morotai, north Halmahera, Indonesia

Written by Edward Beckwith on Sunday, June 9, 1940

Morotai Island, Indonesia
Morotai Island, Indonesia. Photographed in 2002 from the Space Shuttle Columbia, STS-109.
Coast of Morotai Island, Indonesia
Coast of Morotai Island, Indonesia. Date and photographer unknown. Provided by Tropenmuseum of the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT).
The natives kept the drums going all night and I heard them still at 6 A.M. I was looking forward to going ashore and taking some pictures of the picturesque village and perhaps the dancing but David wanted me to go with him in the large launch for an all day trip which included the village of Wayabula about five miles distant. Everyone went except Ted including two natives from the latter village who said they could arrange for a native dance there.

We had been out a short time when we met a prau with an official in white going towards the junk. He hailed us and came alongside, insisting on coming aboard. He said he was the District officer of Wayabula and wished to see the papers on the boat. We first took him to the town where we went to his office and answered a great many questions. His attitude was one of suspicion. He refused to allow us to go to one of the small islands for lunch and shell hunting and insisted on our returning with him to the boat so that he could see our clearance papers. Since the clearance papers issued at Ambon said that we were “under strict orders to proceed at once to the Philippines without stopping at Batjan or any other port,” the situation was rather embarrassing, especially as Kilkenney, who had stayed aboard, could not be warned that he was coming. As he got into the launch two others jumped aboard with him. Anne ordered them out, but the official insisted on their coming along.

On the way, Fenton who always does the wrong thing under such circumstances, started to take a picture. The official stopped him and said it was forbidden. I felt very uncomfortable about the films in the boat and as soon as we got on board, had them all in the bilge with my most important cameras while the official examined the papers.

Kilkenney did not show him our clearance papers and told him that none were needed in going from Ambon to the Philippines. He accepted this ruse and apparently did not know any better. Ted showed him the instructions from the commander at Ambon, which did not say that we must not stop at any other port. He seemed satisfied but said that we must leave immediately unless we reported first to the Controlleur at Gelo, 40 miles away on the Halmahera coast, and that none of us could go ashore in the meantime. Ted got mad but Anne told him we would leave early tomorrow morning. Ted claimed that this mean official had no authority to make such restrictions, but both Anne and David overruled him. Anne said we were not in a position to become indignant, which was true. Before the official left, Anne got him to agree to get a boy to go in our launch to collect shells and bring them to the boat this afternoon. He did not wish to do this but did not like to refuse.

David was quite tired out when he had gone. I felt much relieved as the officer might have held us here until he could get instructions and I was concerned particularly about developed and undeveloped films, many of which are of the islands.

After this second incident I think that Anne is ready to make for the Philippines as soon as possible. She asked me if I thought we should stop anywhere on the way. As a matter of fact, Zamboanga is 480 miles, which is quite a stretch without a stop and I think we should make a final port in the Dutch Talaud Islands.

Hugo started early for the mountains and we told the official he was still ashore. There was nothing to be done but wait for him to return. He came at about 6 and reported that the island was not interesting botanically and the jungle very difficult to get through, with no trails. One of the natives who went with him was very much exhausted. Hugo did not seem in the least tired.

Everyone wore very highly colored garments at dinner, Hugo and Fenton with variegated orange and green shirts which Anne has lately completed. Ted wore one of Anne’s productions and around his neck a white collar and black bow tie. Everyone was in a very good humor.

I was in my sleeping bag on deck at about 10 P.M. when a very hard rain came up. Anne became very active arranging the irrigation system to catch it and called to me to help her, but I pretended to be asleep and Hugo did most of the work. When Anne takes a nap in the afternoon she gives strict orders for no one to make any noise but she does not hesitate to wake anyone up when she wants something done.

 

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