Around this time a year ago I posted a list of some of the characteristics of a Bruneian. It was amusing enough, I believe. So here’s another list for you to feast your eyes on: 57 Reasons Why I Like Living In Brunei. This list was written some time ago by Steve Ryan, (and I believe) he was an American expatriate working in Brunei back then. Since it was written a long time ago back in 1997 so a few of the points are slightly out of date. The list is rather long but I assure you it will be an amusing read. Enjoy.
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. 1
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 Government 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. 2
20. Sultan will wave back to you if you wave to him on the street or while driving. 3
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. 4
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.5
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.
- The amusement park is slowly out despite the various attempts to keep it going. ↩
- Pretty sure the number has risen up since the last time this list was drawn up. ↩
- Oooh this is a fun thing to do. ↩
- Ummm..not so much, anymore. ↩
- This literally means Various(Multi) Purpose Business Company. Kinda bogs your mind trying to make sense out of it, really. ↩