Updated: May 3
Hello everyone, please accept my sincere apologies for the lack of new content, and updates this week. Life has been exceptionally busy as we close down our life here in Brunei whilst still working full time.
A lot of people think Brunei is in the middle east, but in fact, we are much closer to Australia and we are located on the Island of Borneo (Home of the Orangutan).
This was my second tour of Brunei spanning over ten years. It has been an amazing and beautiful place to be, and to watch our children grow up. We had a massive military and SHELL Oil ex-pat community where many lifelong friendships were made. Despite being a dry country, many parties were had and we attended so many functions that bring fond memories. With the beach being less than 200m from the house, you could swim/sail/jetski in the warm waters of the south china sea. That all comes to an end as we soon fly the 7000 miles/13000 Km home back to the UK.
I will take this opportunity to reflect on the 10 years that we have been here. If you are interested, please read on. If not, you should see 737DIYSIM set up back up and running in the UK within the next month. Please bear with us.
The photo to the left was taken at the start of our new journey 10 years ago. We were at Heathrow airport as I left the family behind to set up our new life in Brunei. I managed to get a job that included my family too. This meant the company I worked for would pay for nearly everything while we were abroad. Not just for myself, but for my family too. From House costs, bills, schools and flights. It was all taken care of. There really are not many jobs left in the world in my trade.
As an ex-military guy who was used to travelling the world every few years, this didn't bother me at all and found the whole thing exciting. I knew what to expect and the benefits to come.
However, for my wife Helen, this took a lot of convincing and looking back, this was a massive hurdle. To take somebody away from their friends and family and everything they know. Then expecting them to start a new life in a different country 7000 miles away where they speak a different language is certainly asking a lot of anyone.
When I arrived in Brunei, I visited all my old haunts from my military days and then began to set up our new life abroad very quickly. Sending hundreds of updates back to the UK to my family trying to convince them it was going to be Okay.
6 months later they followed from our lovely bungalow in Hereford and arrived here in Brunei and started our life in our first home here:
Our first house in Brunei was a good way for Helen and the family to start off on the right foot. So much space for the children to play inside and out. This was a very large house and what I would call a mansion in the UK.
To make sure things went smoothly, I took the first couple of weeks off work when they arrived and we had our first family holiday.
The travel has been nothing short of fantastic! Either by car or by plane, being based in Brunei is an ideal place to be. The average Air Asia flight was about 40 euros return per person. This got you to a lot of exotic places in South East Asia. In the following 8 years, we tried to travel as much as possible and made sure we made some amazing memories that I hope will stay with the children and us for life.
Below are some photos of our trips away over the last 8 years before the lockdown began. Too many to recall and list here. For myself, this was the main reason to come to Brunei and take a family job here. Your money in Southeast Asia goes far. Everything from hotels, to petrol (15p a litre), is so much cheaper and your standard of life goes to an all-time high. Food is a funny one though - It really is cheaper to eat out at a local restaurant than try to buy your own food from a supermarket called Supasave (nicknamed SupaSpend). Over years the restaurant prices have shot up in the main named chained restaurants but the local shack/purple tent type restaurants still offer an adult meal for around 4 BND per dish.
Despite everything Brunei offered, Helen found the first few years away from family and friends very hard. This was always a huge worry for me, as I was having the time of my life and I was also hoping the family was. But every now and then I could see my wife missed the UK dearly.
As time went on, I guess things got easier. The schools here are exceptional. From the
military primary school to the international boarding school they attend now called JIS. In 2016, our contract was due for renewal, and I thought we were going to have to leave then. It was at this point Helen announced she wanted to stay so much.........Typical. From 2016, Helen was much happier, which made me happier.
Our contract was extended a further 6 years and we found ourselves still here and enjoying life to the max.
Brunei is not for everyone, and I will try to explain that here. In my opinion, it's perfect for families with small children. It's safe, (crime is very low) the people are beyond friendly and the place is beautiful. It allows the children to try everything, from all types of sports to beach activities while sharing the experience with other children in the same situation. The children's rugby club every Friday was huge! So many ex-pat children all playing together at the same time as the sun goes down.
The pace of life is slow, (relaxed) and trying to get anything done on the same day is virtually impossible. This quite literally can drive you insane! It makes me laugh just thinking about it.
For anyone else (Singles and party animals), life can be a little too sedate. There are no bars here, social places and entertainment is limited. Shopping in Brunei can also be frustrating, from not having fruit or milk in the supermarkets to not knowing where to go to find something. They really are the only downsides I can think of after 10 years here. But on the other hand, Brunei offers a lot more if you are willing to get out there, meet people and visit places.
Things I will not miss are the toilets (or lack of), bum guns (I will leave that to your imagination) and sandflies! (so small and annoying).
One thing I will certainly miss is the wildlife and jungle, it's stunning, from hornbills, monkeys, lizards and crocodiles. It's all an amazing thing to see everywhere you look.
The last thing I want to mention in true British fashion is the weather! It's amazing. As a rule of thumb, 32 degrees during the day, 28 degrees at night. All-year-round. Usually sunny during the day and thunderstorms at night.
This has been an awesome chapter of our lives, and as we drive to the airport for the last time, it's certainly going to leave a hole in our hearts. The sim was started here in 2015, and it proved to be very difficult to source parts and get anything to Brunei during the last 2 years. This made all the projects drag on or it became virtually impossible. However, having anything locally made from metalwork to cushions is really cheap.
Now it's on to ventures new, as we start the next chapter of our lives in Cornwall, UK. This is an amazing place also, with the added benefit of internet and next day delivery! This should be a massive step forward for the sim! For Helen, she can run the sim from home without the humid heat and if you know my wife, she is so looking forward to surfing and running in the cooler climate.
I will sign off, saying goodbye from Brunei for the last time. The next time you hear from us will be from Cornwall, UK!
Kind Regards, Karl