Brunei and the Empire

It's a long weekend and I needed something to fill in the daily entries. I browsed the internet looking for something on Brunei from others' point of view. I found many entries (non-Bruneian ones) and I kept some of them. I realised later that I could not find the original sites for me to link to. I will not make the comments on the writings, that I leave up to you. Here are some of their writings about the Empire Hotel:

(1) A coworker just came back from a long vacation in Thailand, Singapore, and Brunei. His uncle, a CEO of a large European company with assets in Asia and America, decided to buy my coworker airline tickets to fly over there and then spoil him over the holiday season. Other than flying first class / business class on every single flight, he also spent time at the Empire Hotel in Brunei. He tells me that in order to swim in their pool, play on their golf course, or to eat at their restaurant, you have to buy a membership first, which costs $7000 a year. This hotel, he says, loses $1 million a year because their income is much greater than their expenses. It's kept open as a symbol of Brunei's wealth.

(2) Like all of the 423 rooms and suites, mine had a private balcony facing the South China Sea. The custom-made king-size bed, fitted with Egyptian cotton sheets, turned sleeping into a coveted event. The bathroom was a marble en-suite palace which happened to be larger than many of the hotel rooms IĆ­ve stayed in during my around-the-world journey. Because I don't play golf and didn't feel like bowling, I eschewed the flood-lit 18-hole course and the high-tech 8-lane alley. Instead, I walked next door and watched Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers at The Empire's lavish 3-screen Cinema. Furnished with deep leather sofas instead of chairs, the theater provided me with a level of comfort that exceeded any previous movie-going experience.

and on Brunei:

(3) a quick aside: the people here are honestly friendly. being one of the few western tourists wandering around brunei's capital (bandar seri begawan), i get a few stares, especially from kids. but people here are nearly universally polite and friendly once you talk to them, and an unsolicited "hello" from a stranger is just a simply "hi", and not a "hi, i would like to draw you into some kind of scam or sketchy deal which will inevitably involve separating you from the contents of your wallet."

(4) I have found a country where most of the smiles of the adults were as genuine and spontaneous as children´s. A real child smile … not a business oriented smile. One who shouts you welcome, my friend and not one begging “please buy from my shop”. One who is ready to help, one who is curious to learn... Yesterday, I was hitchhiking under a heavy sun. I was sweating a lot and probably already stinky, when two little boys saw that strange outsider holding the thumb up, from their two storey house. They called their dad and asked him what that weird man was doing. He explained them that I was trying to catch a ride… and they abruptly begged him to bring me wherever needed…. According to their father , their prayer was like “hey dad, how can you leave a man waiting under the sun, without water while YOU are doing nothing at home except watching TV”…. Probably, the man felt guilty by the frankness and kindness of his kids, and brought me to the capital, … 40km away…..!!!

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