Twice Travelled Trip

I've been back two weeks from my jaunt through south east Asia. Somewhat steadier on my feet than I was, though I still can't unblock my ears. This was no pleasure trip ... this was work: I was looking for the concluding section of the book I've been writing this year, which has the same (working) title as this weblog. Strange thing to do, in a way, since I deliberately made minimal preparations and so had very little idea what I might encounter. I did however have a mental checklist of things I hoped I might find, questions I might be able to answer, places I might get to see. From that point of view it was a success; from the serendipitous point of view too: there was enough of the unexpected, the bizarre and the moving to keep me interested, nay, fascinated. Now I'm writing it all down, or all that I think is worth relating, mentally travelling again the route I took physically just a short time ago. And yet it all seems oddly distant, as if it happened in another time from that I live in now.

The coincidence which pleased me most was the announcement of the discovery of little people on Flores just as I was about to go there: a friend emailed me in Bali with the news. But the counter-chorus of sceptics has already begun. An eminent Indonesian archaeologist is quoted in today's paper as saying he believes the skeletons may be those of modern humans. Well, they could be; Adam, the anthropologist I met on the flight from Labuanbajo to Denpasar, hinted as much when he said the local people in that part of Flores are also very small. It is peculiar though, the way 'science', which has spent so long insisting upon the irrationality of world-wide beliefs in little people, is so quick to claim credit for their (re)discovery when it happens. Why didn't they believe us? Because there was no proof, of course. But ... proof? What is that?

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