I’m going to Brunei for a few days to attend a cousin’s wedding. Brunei is a small sultanate on the island of Borneo. It’s capital, Bandar Seri Begawan (sounds really exotic!) is about a two-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Brunei’s long coast faces the South China Sea while it borders the Malaysian state of Sarawak on three sides. Its population of several hundred thousand is predominantly Muslim and they live a comfortable, prosperous life, thanks to many freebies (there’s no income tax here and medical is free) and subsidies (from housing to higher education to cars…) from the state, which in turn, earns billions each year from oil and gas. In the 1980’s, the Sultan of Brunei was widely known as one of the richest people in the world.
Oil and gas are the mainstays of the economy though services, especially tourism, are gradually being developed. Aside from bits about its history and economy, I don’t know much else about Brunei. I’ve heard about the Sultan’s massive palace and the floating village in the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, and that’s about it. Oh, one more thing I do know… Brunei is a ‘dry’ country – the sale and consumption of alcohol in public are strictly forbidden. Yikes! 🙂 That’ll be another first for me – I’ve never been to a ‘dry’ country!
I’ll be tweeting about my trip to this country which most people know little of (well, unless you’ve been there and/or you work in the oil industry and/or you’re a geographile :-). Follow me on my trip by checking out my Twitter feed below or conducting a search on Twitter – I’ll be using a terribly fancy hashtag: #bruneitrip.