Monthly Archives: September 2006

Brunei – 27 September 2006

Both the houses are big
Both the houses are well furnished confort wise
Both the houses have the meagrest of cooking ingredients
Both the houses have huge garages
Both the houses are in the middle of nowhere
Both the houses have a deserted look
Both the houses are eeriely quiet
Both the houses I lived in

Both the cars are old
Both the cars are rickety
Both the cars floated more than stayed on road
Both the cars gave you a feeling of going up anytime
Both the cars were rented
Both the cars I drove

Brunei – 24 september 2006

I have seen enough movies so far to get sick of movies in general. First started off with the Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man’s Chest; a movie I could not make head or tails of. Then watch scary movie 4, with my boss which we stopped halfway and switched to Herbie. Then I watch Bombay boys alone. All this in a space of 24 hours, an extraordinary feat for a person who watches on the average of 1 movie every 3-4 months!

So, all this movie watching has made me sick of TVs and movies in general.

Am also reading a book called Stalingrad by Antony Beaver, an enthralling tale of the siege of Stalingrad by Germany during World War 2.

The few features of war which strike in the face are the perverted ruthlessness of the top commanders in war, in this case, Stalin and Hitler. Its appalling to find out just how bad a war general they were and confusing to find that brilliant warhorses who have lived through enough wars to deserve the highest respect, admiring these two people who have no sense of humanity, no sense of morally duty, no idea about resource planning, logistics, nothing! That’s called the charm of Charisma I guess.

Stalingrad by Antony Beaver

Also went to the water village of Brunei, called Kampong Ayer. It’s a huge colony sitting on the Brunei River. The colonies are divided into villages which have their own schools and mosques. There is even a police station, a fire station and a hospital on the water village.

The village is surrounded by mangrove swamps. Contrary to what I previously thought, Brunei has a significant population of not-rich people. The villagers in Kampong Ayer were by no means rich, by any standards. The proportion of people who are rich is quite little here. True, the royals are wealthy beyond dreams and so are their relatives etc etc. There are some businessmen who are wealthy. But the ordinary Bruneian is my no means wealthy.

Coming back to the Water village, our guide was kind enough to take us into various villages, instead of just giving us cursory glances through them. We had first hand glimpses of how the villagers lived, how the children played, how they navigated between the houses etc.

Some pictures of the Kampong Ayer here:

Lone Tree on the Mangrove Swamp
Lone Tree on the Mangrove Swamp

Mangrove Swamp
Mangrove Swamp

Mangrove Swamp in Kampong Ayer Again
Mangrove Swamp in Kampong Ayer Again

View of the Delta
View of the Delta

Kampong Ayer
Kampong Ayer

Kampong Ayer Again
Kampong Ayer Again

Children Playing in Kampong Ayer
Children Playing in Kampong Ayer

Primary School in Kampong Ayer
Primary School in Kampong Ayer

High School in Kampong Ayer
High School in Kampong Ayer

Fire Station in Kampong Ayer
Fire Station in Kampong Ayer

Brunei River
Brunei River

Link Bridge in Kampong Ayer
Link Bridge in Kampong Ayer Again

House in Kampong Ayer
House in Kampong Ayer

Went to an Indian restaurant (yes! found an Indian restaurant with proper vegetarian food: P). Gorged ourselves on the food before coming back and collapsing.

There is an article on Wiki about Kampong Ayer here

Next we visited the White Mosque (Omar Ali Safiudeen Mosque). It is the largest mosque in Brunei. It was built by the present Sultan’s father (

The outside is amazing, but the inside is breath-taking. It’s pure white with golden motifs and calligraphy. I had to wonder what it took to keep the inside of the gigantic building so purely white. There are green prayer rungs covering most of the floor with a narrow red rug in the middle for non-muslims to walk on. The cieling is covered with blue and green stained glass motifs. Around the inside perimeter were exotic gold lanterns. Around the center were huge chandeliers. It has a large open area beside the shallow Sungai lagoon. A gracefully arching stairway leads to a “boat,” or rather a concrete replica of a royal barge, where Koran recital contests are held.

White Mosque
White Mosque

White Mosque
White Mosque

Washing Area in White Mosque
Washing Area in White Mosque

Boat outside White Mosque
Boat outside White Mosque

Brunei – 21 September 2006

Went to the immigration today. Reached there at around 1130 and ended up staying there till around 4. It’s the most confusing system I have come across, and had to be rescued numerous times by my boss :).

At around 4 I was soo soo hungry, I could have eaten a man! And so I did threaten to my boss if she did not take me to food now (We have only 1 car, so it’s like being linked by shackles). I decided to head for tried and tested places like pizza hut or kfc. Ended up in pizza hut and was pleasantly surprised. The pizza hut here actually has loads of vegetarian varieties! And I mean loads! Considering the fact that vegetarian seems to unheard of here, I was surprised.

Food here is not bad. As mentioned, vegetarian seems to be unheard of. So everyday is a day of testing. We end up going to Thai or Chinese stalls and I have not seen a single Indian restaurant here so far. Other than that, I have a lovely boss who not only makes sure I get some food somewhere, but also ends up eating veg most of the time, poor thing 🙂

However, there is no variety. Vegetables here come covered with some gooey stuff which is horrible to see and equally bad to taste.

There is a huge DVD shop here which sells all types of DVDs’ old, new, Hindi, English, Disney, everything. Brought a few to watch, but knowing me and the repelling effect movies and I have, chances of actually seeing that are quite slim. Let’s see if I end up seeing any.

There are supposed to be lots of water sport activities in here, like snorkelling, scuba driving, gliding etc, am planning to go there, lets see how that goes.

Will be alone next week. So was getting familiar with the roads here 🙂

Brunei – 18 September 2006

Just landed in Brunei today. And frankly speaking am disappointed but excited. I expected this place to b something like Dubai, a land filled with ‘money’ aka malls, good food, lots of tourism ‘events’ and basically a nice place, albeit a bit strict and restrictive in what is allowed and disallowed here. After all, Brunei is an oil country and its Sultan is supposed to be one of the worlds richest after all.

The first impression on landing in the airport was; a mix between the Chennai Airport and San Francisco airport, 90% being Chennai airport and the other 10% Cisco. Chennai airport people will be familiar with; dilapidated, with nothing working. San Francisco Airport? Huge, barren with everything working to the minimal.

Brunei airport is medium sized, around Chennai airport’s size; with none of the country’s richness being exhibited (there was not a single shop to be seen here). The walls were painted and flaking, toilets had no lights and queues typical Chennai style. However, things still worked, even though minimally.

Coming outside, the car park is small and sand graveled. There are alternates between huge houses which are spanking clean and dilapidated houses with tin roofs and falling window grills.

The roads are wide and clean. There are hardly any traffic lights here but numerous roundabouts. You come across a roundabout as often as you would a traffic light in Singapore.

There is only one mall in Brunei, which is called the empire mall. I haven’t been there, thus more on the place once I visit. No idea about food either which will come later but I have not come across a single fast food (not that am a fan of it) or restaurant on my way from airport to office, and then home.

We had dinner at a Thai restaurant. Awesome food and nice service. The service here so far has been warm and friendly, though the people do not speak English but in Malay. However, that’s a minor issue since sign languages usually work just as well.

Next was the house. The house is a huge two storey bungalow with three bedrooms. My room points to the plantation (I was given a choice and preferred that to looking at other houses :)).

Well……….that’s all for today. Long day but interesting. 🙂

Addendum:

Ended up watching the Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man’s Chest. Awful movie which I could not make the head or tail of. Why were the three gentlemen fighting? Yes for the chest but why the Jack and James not want to kill the heart? It was funny though, especially the scenes where the lady shows the dress to mimic a ghost and the scene where she is running on the sand.

Deep

A Culture is born in the moment when a great soul awakens out of the proto-spirituality (dem urseelenhaften Zustande) of ever-childish humanity, and detaches itself, a form from the formless, a bounded and mortal thing from the boundless and enduring. It blooms on the soil of an exactly-definable landscape, to which plant-wise it remains bound. It dies when this soul has actualised the full sum of its possibilities in the shape of peoples, languages, dogmas, arts, states, sciences, and reverts into the proto-soul…

The aim once attained—the idea, the entire content of inner possibilities, fulfilled and made externally actual—the Culture suddenly hardens, it mortifies, its blood congeals, its force breaks down, and it becomes Civilization… This—the inward and outward fulfilment, the finality that awaits every living Culture—is the purport of all the historic “declines,” amongst them the decline of the West.

Every Culture passes through the age-phases of the individual man. Each has its childhood, youth, manhood and old age. It is a young and trembling soul, heavy with misgivings, that reveals itself in the morning of Romanesque and Gothic. It fills the Faustian landscape from the Provence of the troubadours to the Hildesheim cathedral of Bishop Bernward. The spring wind blows over it.

“In the words of the old-German architecture,” says Goethe, “one sees the blossoming of an extraordinary state. Anyone immediately confronted with such a blossoming can do no more than wonder; but one who can see into the secret inner life of the plant and its rain of forces, who can observe how the bud expands, little by little, sees the thing with quite other eyes and knows what he is seeing…”

The more nearly a Culture approaches the noon culmination of its being the clearer its lineaments. In the spring all this had still been dim and confused, tentative, filled with childish yearning and fears—witness the ornament of Romanesque-Gothic church porches of Saxony and southern France, the early-Christian catacombs, the Dipylon vases. But there is now the full consciousness of ripened creative power that we see in the time of the early Middle Kingdom of Egypt, in the Athens of the Pisistratidae, in the age of Justinian, in that of the Counter-Reformation, and we find every individual trait of expression deliberate, strict, measured, marvellous in its ease and self-confidence…

At last, in the grey dawn of Civilization, the fire in the Soul dies down. The dwindling powers rise to one more, half-successful, effort of creation, and produce the Classicism that is common to all dying Cultures. The soul thinks once again, and in Romanticism looks back piteously to its childhood; then finally, weary, reluctant, cold, it loses its desire to be, and, as in Imperial Rome, wishes itself out of the overlong daylight and back in the darkness of protomysticism, in the womb of the mother, in the grave.

The spell of a “second religiousness” comes upon it, and Late-Classical man turns to the practice of the cults of Mithras, of Isis, of the Sun—those very cults into which a soul just born in the East has been pouring a new wine of dreams and fears and loneliness.

Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol 1, 106–108