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

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