My last day working for Brunei Shell Petroleum was somewhat poignant, given that it was exactly two calendar years to my day of arrival in Brunei Darussalam.
On St. Patrick’s Day 2013, myself and my husband arrived in the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan, on the midnight flight from Singapore. Our journey had begun in Aberdeen, Scotland by way of Frankfurt, Germany with Lufthansa airlines into Singapore Changi and finally onwards with Royal Brunei airways, to Bandar. On Tuesday 17th March 2015, I celebrated my final working day in the chemistry department of the National oil & gas company.
Casting my eyes back, on arrival, I recall we had a couple of Visa issues which seemed a huge faff, given that we were tired, disoriented and due to a variety of reasons, had not had a pre-assignment visit to Brunei. So we had no idea what to expect apart from what we had heard: Brunei is a ‘dry country’ (obviously a huge consideration for ex-pats, who enjoy alcohol as a medium for most socialising), it’s a tiny, oil-rich tax-free haven, the Sultan is one of the richest men in the world, there’s not much to do……that about summed up our knowledge base and I was really OK with this, having committed to four years overseas with little expectation. This week I will drive 45 minutes West, to cross the Brunei/Sarawak border with the sole intention of activating my non-work entry visa; it took me 13 months to obtain the work visa but only an hour to reverse the process.
In 2013, we arrived in the oil town of Seria after an extremely long journey on a bumpy dark road, alarmingly with the driver nodding off between undulations. [OK, so we were too tired to actually worry about the sleepy driver]. There was no one at our accommodation and we sat for a while in the company driven car whilst they tried to find someone to wake up. This was to be an ongoing theme, possibly as much “welcome to Asia” as anything else. There is no urgency here, ever and there is absolutely no wrong time to nod off. Looking back, I can see how very quickly I have accepted this mode of living – you just have to or you will literally kill someone – shrugging off my British Urgency Addict with a humidity lubricated shrug.
The last two years have scooted by in a Usainian blur as we merrily filled up two passports with stamps, jetting in and out of Brunei, mostly around Malaysia but also to exotic destinations like Mauritius, Tasmania, Phuket, Australia.
As I now enter the second half of the posting, I start to reflect on how my life has changed (and it has definitely changed) and how this might affect me over the next two years and beyond.
Hopefully I can illustrate with the gamut of photographs of wildlife, sunsets, a myriad of tree-types (my own personal project) and some reflections on this amazing and unique island I live on. For someone who has only this week ‘discovered’ Instagram, I’m hoping my blog will bear with me [apologies, it is my wont to humanise inanimate objects] and that my opinions, recorded selfishly and primarily for my own amusement, will also be of interest to the outside world.
Be Interactive! Post a question about Brunei if you have one.