I recall reading an account by a Western traveler to Siam who noted that there were crocodiles in the rivers, but that since Buddhist monks performed rituals to appease them, they did not harm the people who bathed in the river.

In Borneo the situation was apparently different. In the 1920s, for instance, American adventure writer E. Alexander Powell recorded the following information about crocodiles in Borneo:

The crocodile obtains its meals by the simple expedient of lying motionless just beneath the surface of a pool where the natives are accustomed to bathe or where they go for water. The unsuspecting brown girl trips jauntily down to the river-bank to fill her amphora – usually a battered Standard Oil tin. As she bends over the stream there comes without the slightest warning the lightning swish of a scaly tail, a scream, the crunch of monster jaws, a widening eddy, a scarlet stain overspreading the surface of the water – and there is one less inhabitant of Borneo.

But instead of proceeding to devour its victim then and there, the crocodile carries the body up a convent creek, where it has the self-control to leave it until it is sufficiently gamey to satisfy its palate. For the crocodile, like the hunter, does not like freshly killed meat. Hence, the crocodile swimming up-stream with a native in its mouth is by no means an uncommon sight in Bornean rivers.

“But it is a quick death,” as an Englishman whom I met in Borneo philosophically observed. “They don’t play with you as a cat plays with a mouse – they just hold you under the water until you are drowned.”

[E. Alexander Powell, Where the Strange Trails go Down: Sulu, Borneo, Celebes, Bali, Java, Sumatra, Straits Settlements, Malay States, Siam, Cambodia, Annam, Cochin-China (New York : C. Scribner’s Sons, 1921), 107-108.]

In light of these comments, I found the following entry in the Sarawak Gazette for April 1, 1895 remarkable:

“On the 28th of February a girl of about 17 or 18 years of age, Boloh by name, went down early in the morning to bathe at the landing place in front of her mother’s house at Sejejak; she had no sooner entered the water than she was sized (i.e., seized) by a crocodile by the elbow and hand. The landing stage was moored with posts and to one of these Boloh clung with her other hand; her cries for help attracted several men to the spot and the beast becoming scared let go his hold. The girl was severely lacerated by the sharp teeth of the crocodile.”

Boloh was tough!! You go girl!!