Thursday Nov 23

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Meet Chris, expat Mathematics teacher in Brunei

P1000418What do you do?

I am a Mathematics teacher. I work at The International School Brunei (ISB) in Berakas as the Head Of Mathematics and have been teaching here for nearly two years now. I thoroughly enjoy my job, working with student helping them to understand and appreciate the subject of Maths; especially seeing student progress and grow in confidence as the school year goes on.

Describe yourself in a few words.

Describe myself in a few words? Hmmm, a traveller, keen to experience new places, experience new cultures and aspects of life, while meeting new people. I'm friendly and good humoured. I enjoy the outdoors and playing a few sports such as golf and squash. I enjoy following football and cricket and am a very keen Formula 1 fan! (if ProjekBrunei could bring a grand prix to Brunei.... Wow! :) )

Where are you from, and how long have you been in Brunei?

I am from the UK. I was born in Sheffield in South Yorkshire but grew up overseas in Pakistan due to my parents work commitments. I then returned to the UK to finish school before moving to Glasgow in Scotland to study at University and remained there as I began my teaching career. I moved to Brunei with my wife (who is also a teacher although Primary not Secondary) two years ago. We had always wanted to work overseas and especially in South East Asia, so were delighted to accept this job here in Brunei!

What were your initial and your current opinions about living in Brunei?

My initial and current opinions about living in Brunei...at first I was both excited and nervous about moving overseas to live and work, especially to a country that I had not been to before. I was looking forward to living in a different culture, especially one so different from my own. I knew that I would miss family and friends but was looking forward to embarking on a new chapter of life. I also knew that friends and family would enjoy visiting somewhere different. Now that we have been here a couple of years I am still pleased that we made the decision to come here! We enjoy the safety, quietness, the travel gateway to the region and of course being surrounded by rain forest as well as being by the beach. The weather is great even in a spectacular thunderstorm too.

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What are a few things the world may not know about Brunei?

What the world may not know about Brunei. A tricky one. Well there is more to Brunei than oil and gas. A trip into Temburong and up the canopy walkway should tell you that! It is different from other oil rich nations. The wealth is not as flaunted. It is very quiet and peaceful, known as the Abode of Peace of course. It could be taken as both a positive or a negative that those expats living here can easy choose to submerge themselves into and enjoy the culture or live happily being completely detached from it all. It is quite unique in that sense. Being such a small country, many parts of it have the community feel to them that would be associated with a small village in the UK somewhere!

What are a few things the locals may not know about Brunei?

What might locals not know about Brunei? Well, being a teacher I often hear complaints from students that Brunei is boring and that all there is to do is go to the mall! Brunei has plenty to do, it is just the type of place that you have to be proactive and look for things to do or places to go. There are quite good sporting facilities; so easy and cheap to use the National Stadium complex, five golf courses, a number of places you can go for a swim etc. Then of course there's the beach. Muara beach even has showers and a changing room, Berakas beach has loads of BBQ facilities and is great for a walk, Tutong beach is good for body boarding. The beach is used, but not as much by locals as foreigners! The only real downside of the beach is the sand flies.

How do you and your family spend leisure time in Brunei?

We spend our leisure time walking (both the beach and the jungle), socialising with friends and colleagues both eating out in the numerous different restaurants that there are and at people's homes (BBQs are a favourite). I am trying very hard (with varied success!) to improve my golf while here! We have enjoyed trips into Temburong, along the river and to close by islands. We also enjoy being able to head away for a few days to other parts of Borneo or to the likes of Singapore, KL, Bangkok and Hong Kong which are all around two hours away.

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You have a blog - http://planesimple.wordpress.com/. What do you blog about? Why do you blog?

My blog. I blog about anything and everything... Rather intermittently though, certainly not as regularly as I would like to. I had a few posts about some travel we had done in Cambodia, I've blogged about various sporting events or news items. I used it to raise awareness of the flooding in Pakistan last year and blogged about a fundraiser soon afterwards. More recently I have blogged about some photos that I submitted for the ISB Eco Calendar competition. I blog because I wanted to for a while and kept putting it off as I didn't know what to blog about. But then I finally decided that blogging is just like having a chat to someone about something you have an interest in. You don't always talk about the same topic to everyone. So I thought I would start a blog and just blog about whatever came to mind each time! I get comments back sometimes but not always but still enjoy blogging.

You are also on Twitter - @C_Hayward. Recommend a few other Twitter accounts for us to check out.

Yes I am on twitter and really enjoy Twitter. It's easier than Facebook and more spontaneous. I have a keen interest in F1 so follow a lot of tweeple connected to F1 (including @mikegascoyne from Team Lotus who is very insightful, @thefifthdriver for all things McLaren, and @f1grid that can be quite funny). I follow @paulamalaiali who presents the F1 and is from Brunei and also went to ISB as a youngster! Also her sister @jennymalaiali who runs the Cabana Mexican stall and is on the radio here in Brunei.

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Complete this sentence "In three years’ time, I..."

In three years’ time I will be a very proud dad. Given how great Brunei is for families I may well still be here! (sorry that was two sentences but I am sure you understand they work together!)


Editor's Note: Like Chris Hayward, many expatriates call Brunei home (or at least their temporary home). I know quite a number of expatriates and it is always interesting hearing their stories and their perspectives about Brunei. This may seem like a bold statement, but often it seems as if expatriates make more of an effort to Kenali Negara Kitani. Perhaps because some are here for shorter periods of time, they make it a point to exhaust the list of "Must Visit Places" here in Brunei. I will be the first to admit that, come a long weekend, I prioritise a trip to Miri / Singapore / Kuala Lumpur over a visit to, say for example, Temburong. Do you find this true for yourself as well?

If you are an expatriate with an interesting local story to share or an overseas reader who is interested in working / residing in Brunei. I would love to hear from you. Reach me here.

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Something interesting to share with the rest of the world about Brunei? Interested in being featured on ProjekBrunei.com? Reach me here.