In August 2018, I went on my first surf trip to the Islamic nation of Brunei Darussalam which is located in Borneo Island. I don’t know if it was due to the summer southerly monsoon, but there were waves around the waist every day. We were lucky to get some waves at this time of the year. The waves were almost fast dumper beach break and the seawater felt slippery to touch, as it is in an oil-producing country. Getting a good grip on the surfboard was difficult as it was slippery even with the deck grip attached to the board.
The local Bruneian surfing culture was already present, with dozens of local surfers. The local surfers, both caucasians and Bruneians, all made me feel welcome. I am grateful for the hospitality.
Thanks to a local guide, I was able to get to know some of the deeper aspects of the country of Brunei in a short period of time. I was most shocked by this unique country, which is so different from Japan, during my time abroad.
Brunei surf trip video
Summary of Brunei in my perspective
Environment, Infrastructure, Institutions
- The sea is surfable.
- The country’s population is approximately 450,000, about the size of Fujisawa City, Kanagawa Prefecture. The area is about the size of Mie Prefecture. As a result, the population density is low.
- The only one in South-East Asia, with the exception of Singapore, without slums. Thanks to natural resources.
- No public education fees, free medical care at designated medical centres. No consumption tax, no income tax up to a certain income.
- The infrastructure of the roads are very clean with good traffic rules.
- Right hand traffic system. I did not see any motorcycles while I was in Brunei.
- Oil was about 30 JPY two years ago and will be about 50 JPY in 2019.
People, Perspective, Food
- They speak English well. Consequently, many of them can also gather information in English.
- The percentage of Muslims living in the country is one of the highest in the world. It felt like almost everyone was Muslim.
- Although a developing country, there are a large number of people with a broad perspective and developed thinking.
- The impression is that the majority of the general public is very knowledgeable.
- The overall personality is very close to the Japanese. The people are kind.
- Many people have a very good impression of Japan in the country.
- Western diets are common in the country. Most adults were quite obese. Also, many people do not seem to have an exercise habit.
The people have a mixed and unique culture, which is very interesting. There seemed to be some tourists, but I never met any. Brunei has a very weak transport system for sightseeing, with few taxis, rental cars or buses. There is little to no reliable public transport around the country. Brunei is a country with a Southeast Asian feel mixed with a wealthy lifestyle.