Rediscover Brunei Darussalam through the eyes of the People
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“Travel broadens the mind.”
“You should travel to gain experience.”
“You learn more from travelling than from school.”
We've all heard these things being said, and probably nodded along wisely to them, but how many of us have considered what kind of travelling this entails? Because, don't be fooled – not all kinds of travelling are created equal.
If you ask a Bruneian why they are going on holiday, you'll probably hear variations of just one response: Shopping!
Here's a quick check to see if you are that kind of traveller:
All your holiday stories centre around prices and discounts and brands and overweight luggage.
Pre-holiday, you are excited about the amount of shopping in your future and the stores you are going to hit.
When someone says they are going on holiday to Country X, you immediately recommend they visit a store.
Your photographs of you on holiday are mostly of you at cafes (lunch break during shopping), you in front of a branded store, you in front of a branded window display, you inside the store, bits of you in dressing rooms trying on shoes/jeans/gorgeous outfits, you carrying bags of shopping or you and all your shopping laid out in the hotel room.
Your bags going there are half empty, and you have to unzip the extension coming back. Also, you can arrange for shipping with both eyes closed.
If you said yes to most of these, then, dear reader, you may have a problem. But, hang on, what is the alternative? Dank and boring museums? And... and... more museums? And let's face it, if you visit a museum, the part that most Bruneians would find most exciting would be the gift shop.
I have always felt that Bruneians need to travel more and not just to “shop”. When you are in Singapore, don't spend all your time in and out of shops on Orchard Road. When you visit KL, don't limit yourself to Bukit Bintang. If you fly (or drive) to KK, don't hole up in 1Borneo. And please don't spend a trip to the UK only going from Harrods to Marks and Spencer's.
There are lots of things to do on holiday which do not involve shopping.
Let's take Singapore, a popular Bruneian travel experience. In Singapore, you can visit the botanical gardens, the zoo (which does a fun Night Safari), Sentosa and it's myriad theme park attractions, the bird park. Or buy takeout from your favourite food places and have a picnic at night at Marina Barrage. It's windy, there's a great view of the bay, people fly glow in the dark kites, and it's FREE!
In KK, another common destination for us, don't hole up at 1Borneo, have a beach holiday. Go paragliding, learn to snorkel (or even dive!), lie on the beach and build sand castles. And on Sunday, go to Gaya Street market. You don't have to buy anything, but it is fun to wander around the stalls. Or stay in a chalet at the national park, and if you are young (and fit) enough, CLIMB Mount Kinabalu!
I may have lost some of the dedicated travel-to-shop-ers at this point who are frowning and shaking their heads and making faces at how boring or uncomfortable these holidays sound. So let me just say that there is nothing wrong with shopping on holiday – it is definitely one of the BEST parts of a holiday. However, it isn't (and SHOULDN'T be) the ONLY part of a holiday.
After all, experience is about trying new things – not doing the same old things over and over again. So if you are serious about travelling to broaden your mind, to gain experience, and to learn, you will have to leave behind the cool air-conditioned comfort of the shopping mall, throw off your burden of shopping bags and step out. Literally.
About the Contributor: Joyce is a dedicated teacher at a Sixth Form centre in Brunei where she daily entreats, begs, threatens, cajoles and teases her students in an attempt to develop their skills in the English Language. She is a self-confessed bibliophile and excessive book addict who enjoys doodling, diving once every school holiday, messing about with bits of paper and string, and dancing in her car at traffic lights. In her free time, she annoys her fighting fish and long-suffering hamster who oversee her day to day adventures. She plagiarises from the Pixar cartoon “Up” to remind everyone that, “Adventure is out there!” and from Tae Joon in “A Beautiful You” to say, “Miracle is just another word for effort.”
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