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The Beat of Brunei

Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei


How do we begin to explain the most unexpected part of our trip so far? Just how?

...we were warned that Brunei was both expensive and boring. Haha. How wrong! O.K we were lucky and it is easy to miss the reality but seriously all you have to do is meet the right people... ...and we did! First we met John on the ferry from Labuan to the port and he gave us a generous lift into town. Not just any lift though, a lexus-lift as John is MD of a big firm and has expansive travelling experience himself! He is building his third boat [111ft]so that he can sail around the world again and we saw some rather incredible pictures! Thankfully, he made it clear we would struggle to get in to town, his PA exchanged some money, the office guided the way to our destination and we sat back in unexpected but welcome comfort! Secondly and on arrival, we then asked a young guy for help calling the government owned youth hostel so that we could stay there for $10 [Brunei Dollars] a-night, a guy named Yasdi and another new friend from our travels it turns out! We couldn't check-in as it was friday prayer time so instead Yasdi took us to his place where we had lunch and started to exchange cultural differences.

Nous prenons le ferry pour Brunei avec pleins d'a priori. Nous avons lu et entendu de la part d'autres voyageurs qu'a Brunei, on n'a le droit de ne rien faire et que de toute facon, il n'y a rien a faire et que c'est cher... Et bien pas du tout! Nous avons passe 3 jours fantastiques, il suffit juste de rencontrer les bonnes personnes...ce que nous avons fait! Tout d'abord, John qui etait dans le ferry, un ancien routard qui s'est transforme en riche directeur de firme. Voyant notre galere (car il n'y a que des taxis et que ca coute une fortune), il nous a gentillement propose de nous deposer a notre hostel. Dans la voiture, incroyable. Son assistante personnelle appellait ses contacts pour localiser l'adresse pour guider John! Ce dernier lui a aussi demande de nous changer nos Ringgits contre des dollars singapouriens au taux de change exact (on etait pas non plus a 2 Ringgits pres avec tous les services qu'il nous rendait, et ben si!). Nous sommes donc arrive en Lexus, s'il vous plait, a notre hostel qui en fait... est juste une chambre dans le complexe sportif de la ville. Mais l'avantage, c'est qu'on a pu profiter de la piscine municipale! En arrivant, il n'y avait personne car c'etait l'heure de la priere. Nous devions appeller un numero... et il fallait une carte telephonique. Said, un jordanien decide de nous aider et de nous donner sa carte de telephone, tandis qu'on rencontre Yasdi qui decide de nous amener dejeuner chez lui. Il devient rapidement un ami et nous resterons avec lui les 3 jours.

The people of Brunei are amongst the most friendly and helpful that we have ever met and truthfully it is they who made our stay so great! Yes, they have a way of living that is dictated by both religion and their ruling Sultan but in many ways it is this that makes everything work so well. For example; the Sultan pays for bodyguards when Bruneian citizens do the Hadj pilgrimage to Mecca. He gives $10 to all attendees to his palace on several occasions each year and helps people eventually own their own house amongst a great deal of other things. The Sultan is so prominent in the lives of these citizens that when they use the possessive form 'his' to begin a sentence, you know who they are talking about.

However, what most marked me was that not one public advertisement carried a picture of the product or store they were advertising. Instead they carried immense portraits of their ruler with small print associations to either the product or store that had paid for it. At the same time and to add a bit of perspective i suggest you look up the dear Sultan in Google for more information such as his astounding car collection. While Yasdi was working we made use of the pool attached to the centre where we were staying and had a stroll around the central Bandar district. We also went to an incredible musuem that explained the history of both Brunei and of course its Sultan! An interesting place with a great number of artifacts given to the Sultan from other countries and more impressively a couple of huge man-operated chariots that have been used for ceremonies. No bags! pictures!

Les gens vivant a Brunei nous sont apparus vraiment tres gentils et serviables. Ils sont aussi devoues a la religion et a leur Sultan, qu'ils apprecient malgre certaines regles qui pourraient nous paraitre a nous, occidentaux un peu excessives : pas d'alcool a Brunei, pas de critiques... Lors du regne du Sultan precedant (donc le pere), le nombre de crimes ne cessait d'augmenter. Le Sultan fils a alors decide de retablir l'ordre dans son pays ce qui ravis les habitants. Ils sont contents d'etre proteges par leur Sultan et ne souhaitent pas en changer.

Par exemple, le Sultan assure gratuitement la protection des pelerins qui vont a la Mecque par des gardes du corps. Ou encore, il donne 10 dollars aux habitants qu'il invite dans son palais pour les celebrations, ou meme leur donne une maison quand ils en font la demande apres plusieurs annees d'attente. Ce personnage est interessant tant par son histoire, son parcours et ses collections (regardez juste sur internet si vous voulez connaitre le nombre de voitures qu'il possede et leurs marques...impressionant). Nous avons d'ailleurs visite le musee qui lui est dedie et vu les chars en or qu'il utilise pour les occasions speciales, tires par des hommes.

When Yasdi wasn't working he was driving us around to see Mosques [Sultan's Mosque in picture], palace gates, entertainment/shopping districts and more interestingly his room! The consumption of alcohol is illegal for Bruneian Muslims and for this reason there are no bars and no nightclubs. However this does not mean that the young people don't enjoy themselves and Yasdi is a DJ in the making with some of the best beats i have ever heard coming from his bedroom set up! We had a little exchange of music and talked some more about life in Brunei before saying our goodbyes and best wishes to see each other again! We really got to see how some Bruneians live and as i said to Lenaic shortly after meeting him; "he's a dude!"

Yasdi nous a montre brunei by day et by night, les mosquees aux toits en or, le palais, les centres d'interets de la ville et son histoire.... mais il nous a surtout emmene chez lui. On ne s'attendait pas a ca. Yasdi est un Dj en dehors de son travail. Il a transforme sa chambre en party room ou il recoit regulierement beaucoup d'amis. Avec Brian ils etaient contents de partager la meme passion et ont echange la musique de leurs MP3. Meme s'il y a ni bar, ni boite a Brunei nous decouvrons que les jeunes s'amusent ici autant qu'ailleurs, mais de facon cachee. Yasdi est un personnage que nous n'oublierons pas!


permalink written by  Lenameets50 on February 21, 2010 from Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
from the travel blog: Indonesia & Malaysia et al 2010
tagged Brunei, Yasdi and Sultan

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