Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The SSEAYP Diaries: Brunei Darussalam

After almost a week at sea, away from the blistering autumn-winter air in Japan, I made it to Brunei Darussalam with no ounce of sea sickness. Yet.

The weather when we docked was a 360 degree turn from Japan’s cool weather. It was horrendously humid, hot, and all our foreheads were covered in beads of sweat. Try walking around in a full suit without any shade to protect you from the burning rays of the sun.

It was, however, heartwarming to see tears in the Brunei youths’ eyes as they docked at their hometown. Although my wonderful Bruneian cabin mate was fast asleep when all the excitement happened, I managed to come across enough reactions just by walking around the deck.

Divided once again into discussion groups, we set off for our site visits after the welcome ceremony. Along with several others, I visited the Ministry of Education there to learn more about the differences in the Bruneian education system in comparison to Singapore’s.

Brunei is similar to Singapore, in looks and even in currency. Apparently, in education system as well.

We were given brochures and information booklets on the education system in Brunei, as well as the bunga telur, or “egg flower” in direct translation. Press was everywhere, and we had to maintain our composure and our excitement.

Our facilitator addressing the education board. We were allowed to ask questions about the education system as well, in order to learn much more in detail about it. After which, we were treated to deliciously familiar local food for lunch. I swear I wanted to cry because I missed spice so much.

The bus took us back to the ship. Along the way, I could not get enough of the gorgeous sky, dotted with clouds and coloured a beautiful azure blue. I now know my obsession is with skies and landscapes.

Retreated back to our cabin to get dressed and prepped for the official welcome ceremony dinner in our cultural attire.

The buffet was littered with delicious delicacies from across the globe. It spoilt me silly! Surprisingly, I only ate one helping.

The cheesecake was worth the one main course. I ate so many cubes of cheesecake, that I might have emptied the display tray.

Performances were ongoing, and of course the usual gift exchange took place. After the ceremony, we bus-ed back to the ship and all of us had to pack and prepare for the homestay program.

Brunei was the icing on the cake for me. Definitely.

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