Outfitted with a pair of ratty sand shoes and a knapsack full of trade goods, Eric Hansen set off to cross the rainforest of Borneo, one of the last places on earth largely untouched by Western civilization. For seven months Hansen hunted wild pig, gathered roots, and lived among tribes whose longhouses were still decorated with the headhunting swords of their ancestors, completing one of the great adventures of our time.
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'Stranger in the Forest' (1988) is Eric Hansen's remarkable 5 month trip across Borneo in 1982. The book is something of a minor classic among adventure literature, being both modern in style and reminiscent of a Victorian explorer charting blank spots on the map. It was ranked #50 in National Geographic's 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time. Hansen set off into the jungle with almost nothing except good heath, trade goods and the optimism that locals would help him through. Along the way he becomes increasingly native going from one improbable adventure after the next. We learn about the geography, flora and fauna and most of all the fun-loving people, former head-hunting nomadic hunter-gatherers known as the Penan. In 2014, Borneo is a darker story about the destruction of the forest and the Penan people, but Hansen was there just before the palm plantations and dams. He was able to record and celebrate some of the last of the ancient ecosystems and culture of Borneo, the book is a gateway to the world's third largest island as it existed not long ago.