BRUNEI

Trip Start Jul 31, 2005
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Trip End Feb 18, 2007


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Flag of Brunei  ,
Monday, November 28, 2005

Is it a bus, is it a train, is it a tuk tuk, no it's a plane!!!

After a long 4 month journey from Europe overland it's time to eventually take a short hop in a plane over to the tiny oil-rich Islamic sultanate of Brunei.
The reason that we're going via Brunei is because it is the cheapest way for us to get from Singapore to Darwin in Australia.

The sale of Alcohol is banned in Brunei but non-muslim foreigners are allowed to take in 6 cans/bottles of beer or a bottle of wine provided they declare it on arrival and drink it in the privacy of their hotel room.
We didn't take up this offer. So as we arrive at the airport and proceed through customs it appears that every single foreigner is declaring their booze to customs. As we just walk through, the custom's officers give us a strange look and call us to one side. "Don't you want to declare something?"one remarks as we answer that we don't have any alcohol with us. They give us a strange look (do they really think that all westerners are alcoholics?) and just wave us through.

Now, we have to remember that in addition to alcohol restrictions, holding hands and kissing in public is illegal here. It seems so weird, as for a westerner it's such a natural thing to do.

So, Brunei has it's oil and doesn't need the tourist dollar so it has enough attractions to keep a visitor entertained for about 30 minutes. We take a look at the impressive Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque which is about the only tourist site in the capital and have a quick walk around the town's shops. Just as well we only have two night's here as we're sobering up quickly:-)

As we board the flight to Darwin we're amazed that there are only 12 passengers on a 150 seater jet. Well, I suppose that Darwin and Brunei are both pretty small places so there can't be much demand. But why such a large jet which does the Darwin Route once every two days? We soon learn the reason for this really good connection.
The Sultan owns a cattle ranch in Australia which is bigger than Brunei itself.
He has the animals killed by halal methods and then flown back to Brunei every two days. Ensuring that Brunei has a constant supply of fresh, quality meat. I guess, when you're one of the richest men in the world, anything is possible!

So, we leave behind the exotic countries and cultures of South-East Asia and head down to the great land mass of Australia
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