BRUNEI    11 - 16 July 1997
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Fri 11th - Perth/Clear and 0°C.
Out to airport where Royal Brunei Airlines had a 5Kg carry-on limit, so we had to take things out that were precious out of my 13.7kg bag and Gail's 10kg bag and put them in as checked luggage. But then in Duty-Free I bought another 5Kg or so in J&B, Bacardi, Southern Comfort and Sheridans for Breezes. The in-flight screens indicated, at all times, the direction and distance to Mecca, for those who needed to know. Whole plane debarked and we stood in line for about 20 minutes before I realized that we were the only ones getting off at Bandar, Brunei so getting bags and clearance was easy. Simon and Fran were waiting for us at the door (not allowed inside). They brought us to Jerudong Park which is a free entertainment centre. We walked around the site (signs in English? and no gates - completely open to anyone at anytime) which was empty since rides don't start until 8PM, when it might be a bit cooler than the humid 29°C we were in (video). We had a meal outside - great dishes of prawns, mango, veggies, noodles and a murtabak (roti filled with eggs, meat etc...). Washed down with a tall glass of heavily sugared hot lemons that was divine [ed. - to this day I have a nightly hot lemon/lime drink with a dab of honey]. It was a 100Km drive to Kuala Belait - in the dark so didn't see much. Everyone leaves their florescent lights on all night to ward off burglars. Breeze's don't have air conditioning, so the windows are left open at all times and they use mosquito coils.

see Gail sweat

Jerudong Entrance

Jerudong Fountain

Jerudong Rides

too bad, its not night

Jerudong Clown

Jerudong Gate
July 11 Diary
Sat 12th - Kuala Belait/Cloudy and HOT.
Video of Simon's place. Simon brought us to his school, Sekolah Menengah Perdana Wazir. Being a non-Christian country there are no "weekends". Since Parent Interviews were going on, he was able to get away to show us the labs, other parts of the school and meet support staff and a few teachers, including Richard and Sharon. Each time Simon introduced as "New Zealand teachers" they would ask if we were going to be teaching at the school. Back to the house where I collapsed with an earache. Peter and Isabelle came by to pick up a video camera. Went to check out the Seaview Store (I find it so interesting to find stores/shops run by Chinese in a Muslim country have English names), a local corner dairy type-place. We went for a swim at the Panaga Club. Then we went to a Smart Store (like a department store) where I bought a Philippine cereal. Home to sleep until supper and then back to bed. Simon has an air conditioner doing one room, used as storage, which is where the computer is. So checking and sending emails is very chilling experience. Luckily, I checked because David needed the password for the school network.

Simon aka "Brunei Brain"

Home Sweet Home

July 12 Diary
Sun 13th - Kuala Belait/Cloudy and HOT.
Woken at 4:30AM by prayers from mosque. Fellow next door to Breeze has a honeybear in a cage (video). They brought us to Sungai Liang Forest Reserve (park in jungle). The treetop trail was locked (probably in disrepair) so we had to go up and down trails filled with mixed dipterocarp - rubber, myrtle, rattan, meranti, macaranga, palms (nibong) and liana. We could hear monkey but never had a good sighting (video). Stopped at a monument to the billionth barrel of oil - supposedly cost $6,000,000 (video). Had lunch in the middle of nowhere at a "seafood restaurant" where no one spoke English. Simon and Gail got what they wanted by simply pointing, but poor Fran had to go into long explanations with as many of the help as they could drag out from the kitchen and she ended up nowhere near what she asked for. We ate outside and were hassled/hustled by a scrawny cat which Fran was feeding until the owner came out and put a big boot into it. We were swimming at the club, as you do, and met Bali, a Fijian and her husband Frank. Simon introduced me as his son and they believed him. Stopped in at Mark and Joanne's (a New Yorker) for a brief chat. Went to the local a mosque. Saw hornbills. People burn their rubbish in their yards and causes a permanent stench.

Treetop locked!!!

Too Many Steps

Rattan (spikes)



Restaurant-Mini Mart-Fabrics
July 13 Diary
Mon 14th - Kuala Belait/Cloudy hot and HUMID.
Went into Kuala Belait and the Post Office where I was warned against licking the stamps (because the Sultan's image is on them). Walked down the main street. Gail bought a couple pieces of material and I got locks for our bags. Talked to a couple dealers about getting a reel-to-reel to NZ and thought the cost was to much. We had a look at the birthday monument (Sultan is 51 tomorrow) which cost "only a couple million". In the evening we ate at the KB Boat Club (Foo Kim Seng Catering Services). Had divine ginger crab, sizlling pork, chicken cashew and sizzling shrimp. Sizzling in the truest sense, right there on your table. Food put into center and you pick and chose. Simon snuck a cask of sweet Peter Vella burgundy in and we filled our glasses under the table cloth. It is acceptable for foreigners to behave in this manner and everyone turns a blind eye to it. Mosquito coils were burning under the table.
Kuala Belait

KB Mosque

July 14 Diary
Tues 15th - Kuala Belait/Cloudy hot and HUMID.
Sultan's 51st birthday so everything was closed. Called David and had Renee call us back before she left on her South Island trip with Ve and Karin. Went to the pool and I even went in for a swim. Met up with Joanne (Buffalo, NY). I also chatted with Bali (ex Taveuni) and her daughter, Rachel. Bought Yam ice cream - tastes like a vanilla cone - kind of dry and not sweet (video) and a chocolate bar that is "Extra Dick" (thick in German) at Eng Wong's. Scrabble and played while sipping Sheridan's (vanilla/coffee liqueur). I won but Simon had an impressive 44 pointer with "quiz" (video)

Don't know what the "01" stands for
July 15 Diary
Wed 16th - Kuala Belait/31°C.
Drove to Bandar (video) where we witnessed the crazy driving (read "speeding") and an accident as a guy tried to pass via the shoulder only to find that the shoulder ran out on him. We went to see the Royal Mosque, but got there just when it was closing shop for tourists, so had to settle for peeping in the entrance (video). Airport for a meal with the Breezes. Had a clay pot (rice with abalone, clam, prawn and chicken), Gail had char kway teow prawn and cuttlefish. I tried pandan ice cream which tasted like the yam one and a canary nest which is like a baklava. Said our farewells and then waited and waited as the plane was 45 minutes late arriving. And then we had to run to a different gate at the last minute. Had a palm-heart salad on way to Singapore. Because plane was running late we weren't allowed off the plane. Then the long haul to Dubai while watching two movies and 3 television shows. Prawn and cucumber salad. We deboarded at Dubai and found an Austrian Liqueur for mom. Armed guards everywhere - wasn't a very friendly place. Had to rush again and we just made it back in time to get back on the plane.

as far as I dared go

Mosque entry

July 16 Diary
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