The Murungs, as seen here for the first time, are rather shy, dark-complexioned, somewhat short and strongly set people. They are not ugly, though their mouths always seem ungainly. The next day we arrived at a Malay kampong, Muara Topu, which is less attractive on account of its lack of cleanliness and its pretense of being civilised.
After leaving Muara Tewe we passed many small kampongs which were less attractive than those at the lower part of the river. The farther one proceeds the more inhabited are the banks. In this vicinity, eleven years previously, a violent Malay revolution which had lasted two years was finally suppressed. As usual, the revolt was headed by a pretender to the sultanate.
We had 5,000 kilograms of provisions on board, chiefly rice and dried fish, all stored in tin cans carefully closed with solder. There were also numerous packages containing various necessary articles, the assorting of which would be more conveniently done in Puruk Tjahu. We also brought furniture for a new pasang-grahan in Muara Tewe, but the steamer could have taken much more.
As if to give point to the concluding remarks, a Russian man-of-war visited Muara and Brunai early in 1887, and shewed considerable interest in the coal mines. The fairest way, perhaps, of giving my readers an idea of what Brunai was and what it is, will be by quoting first from the description of the Italian PIGAFETTA, who was there in 1521, and then from that of my friend the late Mr.
In the Brunai Sultanate, with which we are at present concerned, coal occurs abundantly in the Brunai river and elsewhere, but it is only at present worked by Mr. COWIE and his partners at Muara, at the mouth of the Brunai river Muara, indeed, signifying in Malay a river's mouth. The Revd.
A feeling of peace and contentment possessed me. "I do not think I shall miss even the newspapers," I find written in my diary. On approaching Muara Tewe we saw low mountains for the first time, and here the river becomes narrower and deeper, though even at the last-named place it is 350 metres wide.
At Muara Tewe, where we had to make a stay of two days, the doctor of the garrison said that in the case of the common species of wild pigs the full-grown ones are always light in hue. Doctor Tjon Akieh, who came here from Surinam, had some amusing monkeys, a native bear, tamer than most cats, and a very quiet deer.
In the dry season when the river is low two or three hundred Dayaks and Malays gather here to wash gold, coming even as far as from Muara Tewe. The gold mixed with silver is made into bracelets, wristlets, or breastplates by these natives. The lieutenant had been unable to secure more than sixteen men, all Malays, which was insufficient for the six prahus we had bought.
They are often altered into a kind of chert. At Muara there is an outcrop of coal seams twenty, twenty-five and twenty-six feet thick. The coal is of excellent quality, quite bitumenised, and not brittle. The beds are being worked by private enterprise. I saw no fossils, but the beds and the coal reminded me much of the older Australian coals along the Hunter river. The mines are of great value.
The goods intended for Passummah are conveyed to a place called Muara Mulang, which is performed in fourteen days, and from thence by land to the borders of that country is only one day's journey. This being situated beyond the district where the pepper flourishes their returns are chiefly made in pulas twine, raw silk in its roughest state, and elephants' teeth.