Tuesday, 31 May 2016

A New Post, A New Day!

Rise and shineee!!! It’s our very first morning in Brunei and we were awakened by the pouring rain. At 7:30am we headed to ‘Ayamku Restaurant’, the in-hotel restaurant for breakfast. Although simple, it was certainly a satisfying meal. Energised and excited, we began our journey for the day.

Our first stop was the Royal Regalia Museum!  Bright and early, we arrived at the location just as it was about to open. Great timing indeed! At the museum, we learnt a lot about the Sultans of Brunei, especially the present sultan: Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. It was an eye-opening experience, very different from the form of governance in our homeland, Singapore. It was enlightening to learn about what each of the Sultans did for the development of Brunei and what their life entailed.

We got a glimpse of  the rich history of Brunei, and learnt about the philosophy of Malay Islamic Monarchy.

One thing that striked us was that in his younger years, the Sultan attended a public school to get to know more about the community and learn about their way of life. This showed the humility that the Sultan possessed and we learnt that we should also be down-to-earth in the way we live.

There were many more facts that also captured our attention. The Sultan also has over 200 ponies and loves to do sports. He plays sports such as golf and rugby. In addition, the third Sultan of Brunei is the 25th descendant of Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. The tombs of the 3rd, 5th and 17th Sultans of Brunei are still preserved in Brunei. Moreover, the 17th Sultan became Sultan twice as he voluntarily gave his power to his son. However, his son died, so he became acting Sultan once more. This showed the variations of how the power was passed down. The power of the Sultans are passed down by basically three methods - father to son, brother to brother and father-in-law to son-in-law.

The golden umbrella used to shelter the Sultan weighs about 2kg. It must be really challenging to hold up in parade!
The people in red uniforms are actually from the ethnic group of Sakai, who are fiercely loyal and even willing to sacrifice. However, the positions at the front of the procession are now replaced by the Royal Brunei Armed Forces in modern times. This exemplifies how much love the citizens of Brunei have for their own ruler, their patriotism and their willingness to protect their ruler. We Singaporeans can learn from their patriotism and treasure what we have in our country.

For our next stop, we went to Yayasan Mall!

We were pretty excited as we finally got to buy souvenirs for our family and friends! Sadly, we could only afford half an hour here as we were running short on time. We did our shopping as fast as possible and we were pretty sure that was the first time we did a lot of shopping in just 30 minutes! Thankfully, the mall was much less congested than we imagined, despite it being a public holiday! Imagine if it was in Singapore… the mall would most probably be very packed! 

Following that, we went for lunch at Big Papa’s restaurant and luxuriate with the buffet of gastronomic food!

Well, that was our last activity in the itinerary to be classified as "relaxing". NEXT CAME THE AGRICULTURAL TOUR. From the Big Papa’s Restaurant to the agricultural farm, it took roughly 1 hour's journey by bus. Initially, we thought that the tour was just going to be at a run-of-the-mill farms along the road. But we had no idea about the scale of plantations in Brunei. Our adventurous hike was clearly going to take much longer than we thought!

We braved through the narrow and steep hills through the plantation, ending at the reception point put up for us. Many of us were panting and struggling along the way but we truly enjoyed the scenery at the top! This reminded us that enduring hardship leads to great rewards :)

After minutes of sweating and climbing, we arrived at the  banana plantation! The plantation is a family-run business and they really put in the extra effort to host our school. We were extremely appreciative of their hospitality. 

Along the way, we saw young banana trees which have yet to grow. We were welcomed by the friendly hosts there who waited for us with two tables full of delicious snacks, mainly made from the banana grown there, by the plantation staff, at the plantation itself! 

We tasted various delicious snacks such as banana chips (sweet and plain), fried banana, banana cake and banana milk jelly etc and we could not stop eating them! The staff had prepared an amazing spread completely based on bananas. They were also very generous in the distribution of food, making sure we ate till we were satisfied. We were very grateful for their generosity and hospitality. We were even given the chance to cook our own snacks! Many of us rushed to buy these yummy snacks to share with our friends and family back home!

The passion-driven introduction of the importance of bananas to the economy allowed us to gain a fruitful (pun intended) experience. We had a great time tasting the delicacies and got to know about how the different parts of the banana tree can be used to make snacks and various side dishes. Through this very meaningful experience with the plantation staff, we caught a glimpse of their hardships, as well as their devotion and passion towards their work. 

And that's all for today. It was quite a day as we get to learn more about the different aspects of the country, from the royal family to the banana plantation. Thank you for reading and catch us again tomorrow!

No comments:

Post a Comment