Everybody has quirks.  Every thing has quirks.  And nearly three months (!) into my time in Brunei, we’ve discovered some of the little quirks of this place.  These are those really little things that don’t really make a big difference in our daily life, but every so often make us go “huh! that’s odd”.

  1. Chips (as in hot chips, french fries) usually don’t come with salt.  And there often isn’t salt on the tables.  So you have to specially request it.
  2. Cash machines are always in air conditioned rooms, and there are separate machines for cash withdrawal and cash deposit.  And people actually use the deposit machines (at least sometimes).
    (Side note, our local bank also has a little online terminal, where you can do your online banking if you don’t have internet access at home/work/wherever.  Kinda neat, huh?)
  3. People rent bouncy castles.  This is an odd one, I know.  But in all my years in New Zealand, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bouncy castle in someone’s backyard.  In three months in Brunei, I’ve seen at least four.
  4. They still use carbon copies and hand written receipts.  Often.  Sure, at home you might occasionally come across a written receipt, or a carbon copy. But generally, things are pretty modern.  Here, many transactions are still done manually.  There are even still ads about the benefits of using cards over cash (the main non-benefit being, they’re often not accepted!)
  5. There is so much beach, but nobody swims.  The water doesn’t always look the best, but it’s usually fine.  And it’s lovely and warm (but still cooler than outside).  Yet no one else is ever swimming!
  6. The weekend for many people is split.  They work Monday-Thursday and Saturday, with Fridays and Sundays off.
  7. Some people drive really fast and a little bit nutty.  Other people drive really slow (some trucks are limited to 35 km/h, others to 50 or 60 km/h).  But no one seems too bothered by the other.
  8. People are seriously addicted to smart phones.  It’s really common to see a large family out for dinner, with everyone tapping away on phones and no one talking.
  9. There are no rules about lighting fires (as far as we can tell), and you often see people burning rubbish in their gardens, even in town.
  10. All number plates begin with K or B, depending where the car was registered.
  11. Carrot juice is often served with milk.
Another quirky thing: a proboscis monkey!

Another quirky thing: a proboscis monkey!  Photo by The Engineer.




2 thoughts on “Quirks

  1. mujahidjohar says:

    Hi there, I’ve been following your blog for a while. It’s interesting to see a newcomer’s perspective into our country. I might be able to give some insight to some of the quirks you mention.

    1. It’s because we almost always dip our chips in chili sauce. Salt isn’t needed because chili sauce provides the flavour for us. Sometimes people have it with ketchup (or here we call it tomato sauce. If you say ketchup here, people might think you’re referring to soy sauce).

    3. Bouncy castle rental is cheap here. I think it’s a couple of hundred dollars for a whole day. I’m not sure, but it’s certainly affordable for most bruneian families.

    5. This is partly due to drowning scares and the tides. It started a few years ago. There were rumours going around about people drowning or got pulled away by fast tides. Nothing official in the news though, as far as I can remember. There’s also a reluctance to take off clothes in public, especially with the rise of religious conservatism. I agree that it’s a shame that people don’t swim much anymore.

    6. On Friday, we have Jumaat prayers at 12.30-1.30, for which all Muslim males are obligated to attend (though not enforced by any law). This messes up the lunch schedule, so the government just moves the working day to Saturday instead. It’s annoying, because I would love to have long weekends for trips.

    8. It’s a big problem. The government even started family day events, and one of the suggestions is to abandon phones for the day to spend time with the family. I think it’s partly because children aren’t really encouraged to open up to their parents, and they’re usually at a loss for words at dinners. So they go to Whatsapp on their phones to chat with their friends.

    9. There are laws and fines for this, but it is rarely enforced. Usually these rules will be enforced when we have haze.

    10. B is for cars registered in Brunei Muara, and K is for Kuala Belait. Usually, BG is for government-issued cars.

    Hope that helps!


    • jenn says:

      Thanks for your comment and for stopping by. Great to hear a local’s view of things! I am personally all about salt AND chili sauce on my fries. And if we had more space, I would be definitely getting in on the bouncy castle action. Amazing!


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