A Golden Country

Deserts. That’s what I thought I’d see in Brunei Darussalam. I don’t know where that idea came from. The country is located in Borneo, duh! I guess the fact that it is rich in oil might have given me an image of the Middle East.

It’s not a surprise then how wealthy the country is. In turn, the standard and quality of living is quite high. Basic services are provided for free – education, health, even housing. And they don’t pay taxes! How cool is that?!

Bruneians put the Sultan in high esteem. Who wouldn’t, with such kindness evident in the prosperous lives of the people. He even opens up his home, his palace, once a year and welcomes everyone, even foreigners, for a feast and celebration.

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Driving around Brunei is quite convenient and cheap, I would say, since fuel is cheaper than water. The roads are wide and are structurally similar to those in England, a trace of the British influence which once colonized Brunei.

After all these years, you could still see houses on stilts in the Water Village or the Kampong Ayer. In the past, the main job of Bruneians is fishing which makes it practical for them to live right in the water. Later on, they decided to settle on land although some chose to stay in these water villages.

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Food in Brunei is very similar to Pinoy food. During meals, rice is served with a viand of meat or fi sh and vegetables. Offered food should never be turned down. Unless you’ve already eaten in which case you say so and briefly touch the pots or bowls of food to show respect.

“It’s so quiet and peaceful here,” I remarked. It’s like a province-city. Maybe because you don’t see the usual sights and sounds – the bright lights at night, the blazing music from bars or clubs, and those sorts of things. Well, they obviously wouldn’t have that in a country where Islam is the official religion.

What do they do for fun here? They hang-out in coffee shops, bowling alleys, and billiard places. One night, we played pool and had chocolate shake for a drink. Seemed like an odd combination because usually they would be serving beer in these places. But for a non-drinker like me, I didn’t mind this at all.

Brunei didn’t feel all too foreign to me, with the laid back lifestyle, the flavorful food, the close-knit extended families. Felt like right at home. And yeah, didn’t see any deserts anywhere.

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Author: Ryan Bestre

Environmentalist. Teacher. Writer.

4 thoughts on “A Golden Country”

  1. The sultan sounds like we hear in ancient tales, which seems so unlikely in the present era. Good to know how it’s maintained and I wouldn’t be surprise to see the rise of this country in coming years

    Liked by 1 person

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