In August 2018, I visited my first Muslim nation located in the island of Borneo called Brunei Darussalam.
I wasn’t sure whether it was because of the southern monsoon season in the midst of the summer, but, I often managed to ride waves around waist high then. It was a fortunate coincidence for me. The waves were mostly fast dumper waves and the seawater was quite slimy. Maybe because of the oil since it is a country that has an oil and gas industry. Even trying to get my feet to stay on the deck grip was difficult since it was slippery.
There is already a surfing culture established and there were local surfers in Brunei. The local and foreign surfers were all very welcoming of me, and for that, I do appreciate the warmth and hospitality.
Although my visit to Brunei was done in such a short period of time, I have learned some deeper information of the country, and it has surprised me as to how unique a nation Brunei is in comparison to my own country.
Brunei surf trip video
Summary of Brunei in my perspective
- Oil was 30 yen two years ago, and now, it has increased to 50 yen. Which means, the price has multiplied to 1.5 than it was. That is a huge increase for the price of oil.
- Aside from Singapore, it is probably the only country with no slums around. Perhaps due to their natural resources, the country was blessed with wealth.
- There is no education fee, medical expenses fee, consumption tax, income tax.
- The percentage of Islamic practitioners in Brunei is the highest in the world. It felt as if almost everyone there are Muslims.
- Although labelled as a developing country, there are many people who have a broad perspective and a thought circuit that are comparable to that of developed countries. Most of the general public gives an intellectual impression.
- The overall personality is very close to the Japanese. The people are kind.
- Oddly enough, there are many people who holds such a good impression on Japan.
- Right hand traffic system. I did not see any motorcycles while I was in Brunei.
- Almost everyone can speak English well. Therefore, many of them can also collect information in English.
- Their infrastructure is in place, and their road is very neat. The traffic rules and system are as good as Japan. However, foreign workers were not exactly the most terrific road users.
- During my visit, I could enjoy surfing. Albeit the wave size being small, you could still have a go on it.
- The country has a population of about 450,000 people, which is similar to Fujisawa City, Kanagawa Prefecture in Japan. The area size is about Mie Prefecture. As a result, the population density is low, and if feels underpopulated.
- There are plenty of Western food around in Brunei, and there are many people who are suffering from obesity. Most of the adults were overweight. The food culture in this part of Asia has been violated by Western food.
- There is a good sense of security, but, it felt to me as if the actual situation is different due to how small the country is. The ruling system is questionable to some extent.
- It seemed to me that there are many LGBT individuals as well.
- There is not much I could comment on due to the law imposed upon them making them hardly visible in the society at all. I think it is impossible to regulate such law, as human desire is uncontrollable.
- Even when a person graduates from their university, they are left unemployed. The economy is in recession.
- It felt as if the country does not make full use of the strength of the young people in Brunei. This was disappointing as it seems like there is no freedom for them.
Overall, it was interesting due to the country having its own unique mixed culture.
Throughout my stay there, I did not see any tourists there although I do believe there are some. Brunei is still very weak in terms of public transportation especially ones needed for sightseeing. It seems to me that taxis, rental cars and buses are not commonly used. The quality of drivers that I experienced was poor too.
Brunei is a country where a feeling of Southeast Asia is slightly mixed in a wealthy life. I felt that there might be an invisible line which divides the royal family and the civilians.
Overall, the impression that I got of Brunei was that it was a dictatorship country with no freedom of choice or remarks, even if the general public had financial support from natural resources.