AT NINE o'clock one June morning an open fifteen-hundredweight turned from the camp gates and set the heavy tread of its tyres north along the coast road. The sweat on Brian's face was soon fanned dry by its speed and, one of six, he leaned against the side and took off his bush hat, felt his short fair hair jerking in the wind. He'd been up since five, checking maps, building up the contents of his pack, and stowing the compass where it wasn't likely to smash or get wet. Shaded under the palms, the long cookhouse went back to sleep after they had eaten and clobbered out.
He'd thought this day would never come, but now that the powerful rasping lorry engine roared them along towards Gunong Barat he was relaxed, hardly excited at all. Instead, strangely enough, when blue and cloud-reflecting paddy fields fanned out richly eastwards, thoughts and memories of Nottingham pushed into his mind and this dwelling on the past damped the intoxication he'd always expected to feel. He was puzzled, but grunted and lit a fag, bending under the backboard to escape the wind. Pauline