August 11, 2005


The first thing I saw pulling up into the harbour were all the oil rigs. The mark of Brunei, the wealth it is known for and the main industry many survives on. I spoke with Ramil, Philipino, on the bus ride to Bandar. He is trying to find a job here and was returning from KK to have a medical exam for applications. The second thing I saw, as he pointed out, were all the huge, extravagant houses lining the highway and the shiny new cars on the road. Apparently the rich own a couple cars each and build all these houses, many of which remain empty because there are not enough people to fill them. He asks, "Why do they need all of this?! 2 or 3 is good, but 12 is too much!" My expectation of the capital, BSB, was to see a busy, crowded city with a downtown core of high skyscrapers. However, it turns out, the population is only just over 60,000 and the high percentage of Muslims make it a non-alcoholic, cafe-drinking, safe, quiet and pleasant atmosphere. All the young people drive to Labaun or KK in Sabah or Miri in Sarawak to have a night life! I am excited to see the mosques and (another) stilt village tomorrow. P

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