Sunday, November 01, 2015

Anthony Bourdain's ‘Parts Unknown’ Borneo: Just the One-Liners

The 21 best lines from Anthony Bourdain's trip to Borneo.

"When I first went up this river, I was sick with love," Anthony Bourdain says in the opening seconds of Parts Unknown's journey to Borneo, the third-largest island in the world and home to the Skrang River, where Bourdain finds himself getting reflective. "The bad kind. The fist-around-your-heart kind…. it followed me upriver, all the way."

In this stunning episode of the CNN travelogue, Bourdain arrives to his destination with a deeper spiritual quest than usual, vaguely referencing a Borneo trip 10 years earlier that proved formative. "I was in this nowhere land between previous life and whatever came next," Bourdain says of his 2005 Borneo excursion. "[Now] I'm retracing my steps to see if it still hurts."

But it's not all pain. Before heading to the island, Bourdain enjoys a meal in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur with even more zeal than usual, dotting his commentary with gleeful exclamation points.

He fulfills a 10-year-old promise by visiting an Iban tribe and paying respects to his former guide — with lots and lots of alcohol. And in two separate look-away-if-you're-squeamish scenes, Bourdain gets a traditional Bornean tattoo on his chest (which involves bamboo clubs meeting sharp needles) and also kills a pig in a Gawai festival ritual. Here now, the top 21 quotes from the episode:

1) On the in-flight entertainment: "I've been on a plane for... I don't know. It was long. Very long. I saw, like, five Mark Wahlberg films."

2) On delicious distractions: "I don't want to get all heavy and philosophical at this point, but why I'm here, what my mission is, what I expect to find — basically retracing my steps and all that — we'll talk about that later. But right now: noodles!"

3) On Malaysia's popular noodle dish: "Char kway teow, bitches! Look at that greasy, fatty... yes. Come to daddy. I'm a bad man."

4) To a plate of black pepper crab: "Reveal yourself to me, my love."

5) On groovy inspirations: "Ten years ago, at his shop Borneo Ink, Eddie David tattooed me with an Iban-style ouroboros. A symbol of a snake eating its own tail. Life, death, the eternal ebb and flow. I think I was going through a hippie phase."