Brunei - why do you confuse me?

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Brunei - why do you confuse me?

Postby Hunter » Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:30 pm

I got back from Brunei a few weeks ago. Odd place. Never felt so confused about a country before. It was cool to visit and a very safe place to be if you're into that for a short term trip (no major adventures this time as I had my new wife with me). It was a great time BUT I couldn't figure it out. It was like the place had no identity. It had it's water village - which is actually very organised and well setup. It had its museum that was pretty much JUST about the Sultan and not the country. It had it's ONE major shopping centre that was half closed. And it had it's boat taxis and what not. It also had quite a few abandoned buidings throughout the city; Houses, apartments and large what looked like shopping complexes that had never reached the 'lets paint the concrete walls with paint' stage.

No alcohol was allowed ANYWHERE, the law is very clear on that. Although, there was the odd chinese place for expats where you can ask for 'special tea' which was basically cheap Malaysian beer. This is not unusual to me as I've been to a few other nations with similar laws but I really noticed it this time as I think pubs and bars would have been the only place to mingle with the locals. Other countries have had people hanging around sipping tea ready to talk to any foreigner or anyone willing to say hi. But I saw no opportunities as such. The locals were very friendly people and quite polite but I just had no opportunity to 'really' meet them. Strange....

Quite a wealthy nation too all thanks to black water

Anyone else been there? What were your experiences and thoughts on the Sultans country?
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Re: Brunei - why do you confuse me?

Postby Woodsman » Sat Dec 15, 2012 1:09 am

I wish, I bid on a project there a couple years back & did not get it. I
Researched the hell out of the country before I submitted my bid & your experience parallels my research almost perfectly. I have a some ideas regarding your description & will share them via pvt MSG if you want to discuss. Vlindsay has been there, hopefully she'll chime in shortly.
Life is short. Eat, Drink & Be Merry!
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Re: Brunei - why do you confuse me?

Postby Ultra Swain » Sat Dec 15, 2012 4:51 am

Been thinking about trying to score an invite to the British tracking school there but haven't actually been to Brunei. I have spent a ton of time on Borneo. I even got married there years ago. Prefer it to peninsular Malaysia and way more than Indo. I spent most of my time with the Iban and really enjoyed it. They are a bit more standoffish than the Thais or the Karen. Way less officious than the Malays. I am sure none of this helps.
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Re: Brunei - why do you confuse me?

Postby ReptilianKittenEater » Sat Dec 15, 2012 1:46 pm

I was in Limbang, Malaysia once and made a half hearted attempt to make a quick scoot over to Brunei. There were lots of boats that came from Brunei to Limbang for people wanting to pick up liquor. However anyone I asked did not know how to get back from Brunei to Limbang the same day.
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Re: Brunei - why do you confuse me?

Postby buffybot_in_beirut » Sat Dec 15, 2012 4:04 pm

I liked Brunei. It shows what other oil-rich mini-states could be if they tried a little harder. Or actually make that "tried a little less" - less arrogant, less artificial, less generic, less hunting for superlatives. Yes it's a bit boring but Brunei accepts it and doesn't try to mask it with Dubaiesque, clownish efforts. It's nowhere as expensive as everyone thinks if you make some efforts to save money (take public transport, eat at night markets). People (includings the nationals) are kind, polite and refreshingly low-key un-snobbish (Qatar, are you listening?). Strict Islam may be the norm, but it's not visibly oppressive, in-your-face like in Wahabi Gulf shitholes. It's pretty and green, no desert anywhere, and the only sand is on the beach. Lots of tourists fly between Europe and Australasia on Royal Air Brunei and may squeeze in a guided tour of a few hours during transit, but my verdict is that you would not regret spending a couple of days there.
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Re: Brunei - why do you confuse me?

Postby Hunter » Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:46 am

Woodsman wrote:I have a some ideas regarding your description & will share them via pvt MSG if you want to discuss

Fire away!!

Ultra Swain wrote:I am sure none of this helps

Very interesting though. Can I ask why you've been in Borneo a lot? PM if need be, I'm interested in hearing about the place and not from the eyes of a 'tourist' or google's description

buffybot_in_beirut wrote:I liked Brunei. It shows what other oil-rich mini-states could be if they tried a little harder. Or actually make that "tried a little less" - less arrogant, less artificial, less generic, less hunting for superlatives. Yes it's a bit boring but Brunei accepts it and doesn't try to mask it with Dubaiesque, clownish efforts. It's nowhere as expensive as everyone thinks if you make some efforts to save money (take public transport, eat at night markets). People (includings the nationals) are kind, polite and refreshingly low-key un-snobbish (Qatar, are you listening?). Strict Islam may be the norm, but it's not visibly oppressive, in-your-face like in Wahabi Gulf shitholes. It's pretty and green, no desert anywhere, and the only sand is on the beach. Lots of tourists fly between Europe and Australasia on Royal Air Brunei and may squeeze in a guided tour of a few hours during transit, but my verdict is that you would not regret spending a couple of days there.


I'm totally with you on that. I think this is why the place confused me as my ignorant expectations did not match up with what I saw. I.e, their wealth but lack of wealth and bells and whistles. They certainly are a genuine acting nation - they are far from pretending to be something that they are not
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Re: Brunei - why do you confuse me?

Postby Ultra Swain » Sun Dec 16, 2012 8:11 am

I ended up in Borneo because I had business in Malaysia and dealing with the racist Chinese bureaucrats on the mainland was getting me nowhere. So I flew to Kuching and dealt with the Iban folks working at the ministry office in Sarawak. It was a breeze, loved it there made friends was getting married anyway and we ended up having an Iban ceremony in a friends village up the Skrang River. I am kind of a jungle freak and the 150 million year old rainforest is a mind blower. I had time to kill and was bored in Thailand, had no desire to hang out in Penang or KL or any other place I had been in SEA. I wasn't doing anything exciting work wise just waiting for paperwork and my job to start in the states. And the food, the best meal I ever had was there.
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Re: Brunei - why do you confuse me?

Postby vagabond » Sun Dec 23, 2012 2:36 am

Sarawak was pretty sweet and I second the Iban being great people. I usually try and visit new places but seeing a bit more of Malaysian Borneo is def on my list of somewhere to get back to.
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