When my father had his 4 day and 3 nights vacation here in Brunei in 2008, a visit at His Majesty’s Palace capped off his experience. This year, luckily, I was able to contact my father’s classmate in highschool who fortunately is working at the palace as a head of water treatment. Having said that, not that we got a sure ticket to fastrack our way to pay respect to His Majesty, I thought that the long queue in the Palace will be more bearable and enjoyable for my father. Yes, he has a friend and relative too whom he can exchange stories with.
|Uncle and Papc in a lunch treat|
I took a leave to spend more time with my dad. Since it’s a Monday, I didn’t have a car to drive. As you all know, the company car is shared by all – from delivery to personal nuisance. And so, thankfully, Uncle Andres, my father’s highschool classmate and our relative, picked us up and brought us to the palace.
We arrived outside the palace at around 7:30 in the morning. As early that time, many people were already excitedly waiting to see and pay respect to the royal family. We waited in line for the bus going to the palace.
As the buses came, people rushed in. I got disappointed. Almost everyone panicked going inside the bus, parang MRT lang sa umaga. Actually, I was even got scared when the bus moved with kids holding the bus’ door. Frankly, if my father and Uncle Andres didn’t reached the kid’s arm, there might be a bloody end on that steamy morning. Thank God, we were spared with such horrifying experience.
The second set of buses came and so our “balyahan” skill gave us a seat. Soon, we were in line with the thousands of visitors at the main entrance of the Palace.
On this day, Carem and Matet of Expressions joined us in our quest. It was their first time. All I can say is, I saw on them the happy and excited face I wore during my first visit at the Palace. Truly, priceless!
|Matet, Carem and Papc|
The moment we got in, as usual, we were fed with taste bud-boggling set of Malay dishes ranging from buttered rice with cashew nuts, stewed beef Brunei style, sautéed prawns with lemon grass, sausages with black pepper sauce, and more. There was also an overflowing variety of drinks and desserts.
|A sea of people|
And so, right after eating, the real challenge began. We fell in line for almost two hours. And the endless waiting, we finally had the chance to pay respect to the Royal family. Take note, the girls can only meet the women in the Royal Family, while the boys can only meet the men of the Royal family. The only thing I can commend about this experience is that the hands of His Majesty are as soft as silk. I swear!
In the end, we were given souvenirs; a yellow box with a special cake was handed over. Ang pao was given to kids. How I wish I was a kid that time! =)
Right after our visit at the Palace’s open house, Uncle Andres tagged us along to his flat. And so, more sharing of stories went by. We even had some red wine to spruce up the afternoon. Oh! Perhaps you’re wondering that in a alcohol-free country like Brunei, where did my uncle get one? Easy! My uncle’s place is near to Kuala Lurah, the popular place that sells different kinds of alcohol. For foreigners, one individual is allowed to carry in 12 cans or 2 bottles of liquors, no more, no less!
This is the flat of Uncle Andres. He also planted some banana trees around the area.
|Browsing the photo album|
After some hour, Uncle Andres drove us home. I promised to my Uncle that I will visit him soon.
Two days before our palace visit, my father and I met Uncle Andres at the Mall. We had a lunch out. Of course, sa magkaibigan at magkamaganak na hindi nagkita ng halos 30 years, hours are not enough. And so, a meet up was set and the Palace’s Open house was the site to behold!