Monday, 30 May 2016

Bye Singapore, Say Hi to Brunei!

Our group photo before we take off!!

What's up guys!

Where do you think we are now? WE ARE IN BRUNEI!!! Our flight went smoothly thanks to the air stewards and stewardess from Singapore Airlines and we arrived safely in Brunei around 11am. 

Entering our plane!

Our airplane food!

We were very thankful for the teachers in Brunei for being extremely welcoming towards us. Even before our arrival, they reached early and waited for us. They warmly introduced themselves and wished us an enjoyable stay here in Brunei. We were all very touched by their actions and truly looked forward to our day ahead.

Brunei's airport is quite beautiful, right?

Luckily for us, Grand City Hotel was a mere 15-minute ride from the airport. The staff there were also very welcoming and even though there were some delay in the allocation of rooms, they were very accommodating and helped us to sort out the problems as soon as they could. We were also very thankful for that as they approached the problem calmly instead of being agitated by the small problems.

Recharged from a long bus ride, many of us were energized for the activities that lay ahead of us.


On our first day at Brunei, we had a buffet lunch at BIG PAPA'S. The buffet offered a large array of local cuisines such as beef rendang, black peper chicken, sweet & sour fish and more. 

Being the first meal since alighting the plane, we ate joyfully and the teachers ensured that we had filled out stomachs. The local cuisines were great and really delicious! Thank you to the Bruneian teachers for choosing such a great restaurant! :)


After lunch, we went to Brunei's Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka. It was basically a library that encapsulated Brunei's rich culture and history. The library ensured the continuity and strengthening of Brunei's sense of patriotism and was an essential part of Brunei. Being given the opportunity to tour the library, we were given the opportunity to take a look at their past O and A level papers. We were pleasantly surprised to see that their academic standards were very similar to ours. After touring the library, the library prepared some light refreshments for our tea time pleasure. Generally, we had a great experience at the Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka.


After going to the Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka, we went to the Malay Technology Museum. There, we get to learn the different types of houses that existed in the past. It was very interesting to see how the houses evolved - how they used different types of materials and the way the houses were structured. There was one that stood out to us and it was called the Rumah Berloteng or A House With Loteng. This type of house was normally built by Brunei nobles and was easily recognised by it's double storeys with its upper floor or loft called loteng. The upper floor is usually reserved for the daughters of families as they do not want boys to meet their daughters easily. They believed that all daughters must be protected very well. The staircase to the the loft is also usually right in front of the the parents' room so if anyone tried to go up, the parents would know! 

We also get to see how the villagers find food to survive- by fishing or even hunting in the later days. They used a bubu- a fish catcher and poison from snakes to kill animals. It was very interesting to see how they lived in the past! To add on, the wax figurines looked really life-like and it started to look very scary!! 


When we reached the mosque, we were amazed by the great architecture of the landmark. It is the second grandest mosque in Brunei Darussalam. We were greeted by many friendly staff members of the mosque. However, we missed the last time window for visiting, so the non-muslims took their time to explore the vicinity of the mosque, while the rest used the opportunity to pray in the beautiful prayer halls. The halls seem so spacious that they might just be able to fit all the residents of Bedok and Tampines! After that, we took some group pictures before boarding our bus to head to our dinner venue.

Learning points

From the experience at Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka, we learnt how important it is to preserve our mother tongue language. Even the signages have to go through them before being placed at the appropriate places. This is to ensure that the Brunei citizens and students use a high standard of Malay, something that perhaps we could learn from. At the Malay Technology Museum, we learnt about how the different models of the houses, both on the water and on land, got their names. One such example is Rumah Loteng, whose name was derived from a Hokkien word for "level above". There are many different ethnic groups in Brunei too, such as Iban and Kedayan, illustrating the multiple cultures that define Brunei today. Lastly, we learnt about how sago are made in the past. The bark of the sago tree is cut. It is cut from 2 meters below and above to get the most sap. The bark is scraped to get the sago, then, they are washed. All this detailed descriptions really make us look forward to visiting the actual factory on Wednesday. Who knows, we might even get a chance to taste the famous national staple, Ambuyat!

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