The house of 12 roofs

I am not generally a superstitious person but sometimes events can happen that makes us realise sometimes there is a fine line between the supernatural and the real world. One case in point I remembered was back to the time when I was involved in the preparation of the Youth Ship Program, which I blogged about a few weeks ago, was the cultural dances practices. At that time, the only place which was available to us was the Bubungan Dua Belas - that's the old British High Commissioner Residence at Bukit Subok. The building is probably one of the oldest, if not the oldest wooden residence still in existence in Brunei Darussalam today.

During the practices which took us to quite late at night and being young exubriant youths at that time, to put it mildly, we were pretty loud. We have been at it for a few nights when one day, when we were supposed to come back for practise, a number of us were suddenly down with flu. That was when the elders told us to clamp down for a while and to be less 'excited' as that was only a warning because we cannot 'cabul' at that place. We were pretty much subdued after that episode. Though I was told that somebody saw something at that place. I am not going to speculate any further. Recently the subject matter came up and someone said something to me about the place still being interesting and despite the extensive renovations, you might still want to refrain from going to the bog for whatever reasons.

Bubungan Dua Belas (House of Twelve Roofs) is called that due to its distinctive roof form, has been associated with the history of UK-Brunei throughout history. It used to be the residence of the British Residents until 1959, when it became the residence of the British High Commissioner until 1984 when Brunei gained its full independence. The building was handed over to the Culture Section of the Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sports and that was when we used it for our cultural dance practises. The building was also used by the Japanese when they were in power during the second world war. There must have been a lot of fighting during the war time and presumably a lot of deaths as well. Another story which the PWD engineers loved to tell is that when they constructed the road going up to the MFA building, the tractors keep stalling and the project was very much delayed. Apparently there were a lot of human bones being dug up along the Subok hill and it wasn't until some 'expert' was called in to deal with the spirits, that they could finally start the road project.

Back to Bubungan Duabelas, in 1998, the Government signed a joint project agreement with UK to turn the project into a permanent and dynamic exhibition centre in commemoration of the relationship between Brunei and UK. It was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth when she was here in 1998. The exhibition covers the history of the building and its use over the years up to 1984. It also focused on the enormous progress that Brunei has made in the economic and social fields since 1984, including its expanding and dynamic role in international and regional affairs. For those of you who have never even heard of the place, let alone have known that it has become a museum of sorts, please drop in to get a feel of the Brunei history. It is open daily during the daytime and there is no charge for entering it. Be careful, not to be too 'chabul' near the grounds - there are a few interesting trees there that seemed to have been there forever. Do let me know what happened in the toilet, should you decide to go in there, please?


Anonymous said…
Know any other ghostly historical Bruneian sites?
Anonymous said…
What does 'cabul' mean?
Anonymous said…
i'm not a superstitious person either but after a strange experience when i was a teenager in Wasai, i realised that there's mysteries in the universe that mankind will never unlock the secrets to, however far our scientific progress reaches. Nothing to be too fearful about, just need a dash of humility of our place in the universe.
to use kamus nusantara's definition (2,000+ pages)'cabul' means tidak sopan atau tidak senonoh kerana melanggar adat (kesusilaan dan kebiasaan); atau means tidak patuh (melanggar pantang larang). chabul just means not to do anything other than normal or not to do anything that may anger the spirits.
Anonymous said…
hehe.. I thought that 'chabul' meant 'come true' like when people say, jangan cakap macam atu karang chabul...

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