57 Reasons Why I Like Living in Brunei

I found this interesting list entitled "57 Reasons Why I Like Living in Brunei" on the internet written by who I gather to be an American by the name of Steve Ryan. It was written 10 years ago in 1997 and some references are slightly out of date. It gave a different perspective to Brunei Darussalam:-

1. Everybody drives on the wrong side of the road but head-on collisions are very rare.

2. If you wake up in a grouchy mood, it passes quickly when you see all the middle-aged businessmen marching around wearing black fezzes, bright green/purple/yellow/blue primary-colored pajamas, and gold-embroidered skirts.

3. You get an automatic wakeup call every morning from the muezzin at the mosque, even if you forget to set your alarm.

4. Peaceful. Only the military has any guns, and they never shoot them.

5. It's really a change to live in a country where the one guy worth more than $30 billion is a decent, polite, college-educated human being who is genuinely concerned about the welfare of others and not an evil, petty-minded, greedy monopolistic geek peddling lousy software.

6. It's a hoot to see cute giggly teenage Muslim girls wearing their head scarves and generally acting like, well, cute giggly teenage girls.

7. The Government can hang anybody they want, but they never bother to.

8. No obnoxious drunks. (OK! Very few, then!)

9. Very little crime. But they cane the HELL out of anybody who steals your stuff or vandalizes your new car.

10. Admission to the big Jerudong amusement park is free, and so are all the rides.

11. No rednecks, baseball, or tractor pulls.

12. Chinese, Malaysian, Bruneian, Thai, and Filipino girls are so cute.

13. Gurkha soldiers are pleasant chaps and smile all the time, even when marching in formation in the hot sun wearing throat-cutter kukris.

14. No poverty or homeless people spare-changing you.

15. Sultan has more airplanes than the national airline, and cooler ones too.

16. No irritating politicians, deranged TV evangelists, or tiresome election rhetoric.

17. Many amusing English mistakes in local newspaper every single day.

18. All Bruneian bigshots and Gov't Ministers drive fast Turbo Porsches, Mercedes, BMWs, and Jaguars so police never dare to run speed traps.

19. Only 150 Americans here so each of us is considered very interesting, especially to the local female populace.

20. Sultan will wave back to you if you wave to him on the street or while driving.

21. No American football, golf, or basketball shown on television. Traditional national sports in Brunei are spinning big wooden tops (no kidding) and kicking a rattan ball over a badminton net.

22. Kids wear the funny fezzes, pajamas, and head scarves too.

23. Police cars are all BMW 735i's.

24. Weird plants, bugs, and animals everywhere. Big troops of proboscis monkeys in the Temburong forest!

25. Free bananas and coconuts.

26. You can safely see creatures that would give Jacques Cousteau nightmares, just on a visit to the Fish Market.

27. Water taxis have rowdy drivers that enjoy splashing and rocking other boats with their wakes.

28. Fun to learn to shift gears and adjust the radio with your left hand.

29. OK to either A) drive like a maniac, or B) poke along at 15 MPH looking at all the weird stuff by the side of the road. Nobody gets mad; everybody does one or the other.

30. Geckos scuttling all over your house instead of cockroaches. They make funnier noises, too, like: "Chuck - CHUCK!"

31. Cobras and pythons generally stay in the jungle and not in town. But no problem to go find some to play with if you really want.

32. Three words: It's Not Houston. Three more: Or New York.

33. People like to set things on fire over here. It's ok to burn things in your front yard in huge flaming pyres, and nobody gets excited even when the roadsides catch fire, which they frequently do. You can also quickly spot roadside satay snack vendors by spotting the dense smoke and flames billowing from their grills.

34. Cops are polite even when they catch you doing something you're not supposed to be doing.

35. Monitor lizards walk funny, all bowlegged with their stomachs held up as high off the ground as possible.

36. Technical mistakes during local TV evening news are hilarious.

37. Get to see lots of funny-talking British expatriates and ridiculous-looking tourists wearing black socks and shorts.

38. Demonstration of even the simplest UNIX computer-hacking tricks draws genuine gasps of awe at your technical prowess.

39. They have no shortage of HBO, CNN, Discovery Channel, fast computers, and Jolt Cola.

40. Dirt-cheap pirated software and five-dollar bootleg first-run videos even in the big reputable department stores.

41. Funny to watch women who are 4 feet tall wearing head scarves and big sunglasses trying to drive huge Mercedes.

42. You can take up as many spaces as you want when you park and nobody will try to kill you.

43. Odd, interesting local language but everybody speaks English readily.

44. America considered a weird scary faraway place that few people are ever likely to go to.

45. Plenty of unusual odors you have never smelled before. (Some, you never want to smell again.)

46. At night every bush and hedge in your yard buzzes, chitters, hoots, chirps, croaks, whistles, creaks, moans, honks, rattles, hisses, hums, grunts, etc. etc.

47. Royal Brunei Airlines stewardesses' uniforms. I can't describe it, you'd have to be here to believe it.

48. Karaoke restaurants heavily taxed and strictly regulated as public nuisances.

49. Fun to drive by the Sultan's Palace and watch the policemen in their little guardhouses trying not to look utterly bored out of their minds.

50. Get to surprise everyone by quickly agreeing with their criticisms of the USA's interventionist foreign policies, and then enjoy listening to them complain we don't do enough to help other nations.

51. Get to watch scratchy Indian movies on TV where the hero and heroine wail nasally and dance around each other grimacing in an amusing and incomprehensible manner.

52. All Muslim, Christian, Chinese, and other folks' religious, traditional, national, and what-not holidays are recognized as official days off for the government and the banks; since these employ over 50% of the people of Brunei, everybody takes these days off. This works out to every day being an official holiday from Thanksgiving to the end of February, and about half the working days in the other months. With so many cultures, it's always somebody's holiday.

53. They have real pirates over here, which adds a definite sense of adventure to any yachting excursion.

54. If your change comes out to somewhat more than fifty cents, they'll often round it off in your favor up to the next dollar, except in the big Japanese department store.

55. Jollibee has MUCH better burgers than McDonald's, and they have killer slow-burn chili sauce.

56. No 7-11s, Stop 'N Gos, K-Marts, etc. Stores tend to have more interesting and mellifluous names like (looking out window) - SYARIKAT PERNIAGAAN ANEKA TUJUAN.

57. Interesting, colorful money with little plastic windows in it and cool pictures of Sultan, airport, oil rigs, plants, etc., that seems to spend much more readily and less painfully than real greenbacks.


Anonymous said…
Haha..a good laugh for Wednesday.Thanks for making my day, Mr.Br:)
Anonymous said…
Nice to hear what others really think about Brunei.. hehe funny though.
Anonymous said…
they've never sold jolt cola in brunei. trust me, i've looked. :P
Anonymous said…
I enjoy reading this! Nice to know the way foreigners look at our country and find it fascinating.
Anonymous said…
Some "reasons" are really funny.. I agree wholeheartedly with #47 this is very much similar to the female UBD graduation "gandi" (cap).. hehe no offense, I've been wearing them twice.. and believe me, it's very difficult to put them on..
Anonymous said…
Hmm...while some are funny, most are more like mocking to me..
Anonymous said…
i love it when Sultan waves back at me on the road.. its very cool..
FlyBoy said…

Unfortunately, that was 10 years ago and if you re-read the list again, over half of the things don't exist anymore.

Brunei is fast becoming a mini-replica of what the western world wants us to be. Is this good or bad? Figure it out for yourself.
Anonymous said…
"Brunei is fast becoming a mini-replica of what the western world wants us to be. Is this good or bad?"

Though I may not agree with some of the items on the list, I find some things that are amusing as well and also realise that we dont have jolt cola (last time i checked - note to self: need to go back home to Brunei soon). However, your comment does make me think FlyBoy.

Personally, I think that we're easily influenced especially the younger generations (apart from the fact that we tend to follow the accents of those whom we talk to.. "bruneians speak m'sian malay when speaking with m'sians). Show them something on MTV and they'll most likely follow. I've been living abroad for quite a long while now and when i went back home for the first time in years, I got quite a culture shock (a "reverse" culture shock actually). Brunei now has goth, punk and etc. wow! I'd expect this in a foreign country but I was hoping to return to my Malay roots. Well, not completely Malay roots but at least the so-called Bruneian culture (sad to say this but I don't think I know what it is anymore). Nowadays, I see the Malay girls in scantily-clad outfits and some are even rude. Is this what we want tourists to think? Considering the fact that the people are the ones who represent the country. I still remember reading a Brunei guidebook that mentioned having to dress conservatively when visiting and not to wear revealing clothes as it is considered offensive to the locals. What happened to the modest, polite and decent people of yesteryears? Not many of them around I notice or maybe I should've visited other districts as well to see what the situation is like instead of just stereotyping Bruneians based on my observation of the Brunei-Muara District. I still have hope but has development ruined the Bruneian identity? As we strive towards advancing our country in the international arena, did we not see this coming?

Things aren't as they were before obviously what with the development. Kudos to the government for having done loads of improvement. The standard of living is high as well. Many extravagant houses on the rise. However, Mr BR sir, it would be good if u could define the Bruneian culture as it is at present. What is the one thing that differentiates us from every other country in the world? What can we promote to others about our country?

Please and thank you.

**apologies for the lengthy comment**
Anonymous said…
Bruneians tend to be followers, and not initiators.

I was discussing this notion with a fellow Bruneian resident but who's not as lucky to be granted the Yellow status, a few weeks back.

His observations of the Bruneians he met, was that it seems that they all whine/complain at one time or another without actually doing something about it.

He elaborated to the notion that Bruneians tend to wait until things improve *magically on their own*. I felt guilty of those charges and then realised that when conditions do improve (not magically lah), we criticise those improvements when the work of other people did not match our expectations.

I'm sure not everyone behaves this way all the time. But what I'm trying to point out is that we talk, discuss and then formulated a battle plan. Who made the first move to implement those plans?

And who wants to lead with all the almost-perfectionist expectations of others?

Risk-takers, leaders and initiators.

Are we really a nation of whiners and followers?

Do we need to wait for a disaster to improve?
Anonymous said…
hmm...there is this one quote that goes something like "You either lead, follow or get out of the way."

IMO, the majority are followers, only a handful are brave enough to lead and these people are the ones who the "many-many" ignore or don't take seriously.

It is really annoying to be told that some things "cannot be done" or "have nvr been done...", might as well add, "so it can nvr be done" or "so what makes you think you can do it?" at the end.

that just shows how much faith we have in our own citizens.

if we want a better Brunei, we have to better ourselves first.

only dead fish "swim" with the current. don't be afraid to swim your flow...even if it takes longer or you die trying at least you bothered to be different. right?
Anonymous said…
if there's anything i notice about brunei, it's the absence of segregation between races, which is good.
Anonymous said…
wow...times have certainly changed. Sigh...wonder what happened...
Anonymous said…

Oh. Thank You ;)

HAve a nice day!
Anonymous said…
Frankly, some of the comments about Bruneian teen girls, and all Asian girls in general, sorta freaked me out a bit :S

But all in all,I love this post.. I have to say, some of the comments make me quite proud (maybe kambang is a better word) to be Bruneian. huhuhu..
Anonymous said…
I'm moving to Brunei soon and while doing pre-migration research work, I came across this post. I found it very funny and helpful, thank you very much!
Oh just one thing, Jollibee is from the Philippines :)
Anonymous said…
I'm a proud Bruneian and I think some of the things are rude but it's never wrong to have a laugh though some things that were listed have changed. :P
Anonymous said…
I'm a proud Bruneian and I think some of the things are rude but it's never wrong to have a laugh though some things that were listed have changed. :P
Anonymous said…
I remember some years back the Sultan hired then Miss America for some personal work with a very attractive salary. She came back to US and sued him for more money. The case was settled pouring more money. I wonder it was settled on who’s favor???
Anonymous said…
It's quite entertaining to know that someone shared the same view as I had the first time I went to Brunei 10 years ago too. However, I have been back and am currently working here again for almost 3 years now and things are definitely changed and it's not getting any better. I kinda miss this place after a very long absence but then again now I don't think I'd miss this place once I leave, which is going to be soon. Sorry guys, it's just my opinion.
Brunei Share said…
Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi wabarakatuh
Hi there. I'd like your permission to repost 'About The Brunei Darussalam' article you have here on your blog onto My BRUNEI SHARE BLOG to “share everthing about BRUNEI DARUSSALAM”. Thanks...http://virtual-bruneidarussalam.blogspot.com
Al-Mumin said…
Salam! I loved reading your blog, very nice. Where are you from originally? I am looking for places to live other than Canada. Are you living in Brunei? I would like to get in touch with you.
Anonymous said…
Is #30, #31 n #35 true? I mean do u really come across them easily?
Anonymous said…
Cockroaches n lizards freak me out anyway. I HATE SNAKES N MONITOR LIZARDS! I'll probably get a heartattack n collapse the very second I see any of those things....
Elise said…
Love the info and thanks!
I am an American English teacher, have been trying ot figure out a way to get a teahcing job in Brunei for a few years now! Absoutely my dream location! Would really appreciate any info from you or others who may know a loophole.. thanks so much!
Anonymous said…
hmmmmm.... take a look at it again now. hahahahhaha, it's stoning, caning and amputation.
Nieve said…
I also find it an enjoyable reads. Nice to know the way foreigners look at Brunei and find it fascinating.

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