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Published: August 5th 2018
THE AMERICAN WRECK
Three minute safety stop...this was a deep dive.
BEAUTIFUL, HOT BRUNEI
Will I ever feel strong and capable again? Brunei was a bad dream. It is a beautiful country but I caught a bug and I am still under the weather. I will have to return another time to see its splendor.
I think I read that the King's Palace is the most expensive in the world but it is only open to the public three days a year. In fact, it is so secluded only the roof is visible. In order to catch a glimpse of it you must take a water taxi.
I was feeling good when I arrived in the airport at Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei. I had a hotel already booked, The Jubilee, some plans for sightseeing and diving, and the hotel had free shuttle service. I checked at the airport information desk about the shuttle and had just enough time to grab a sandwich at Burger King. Of course it included a drink. I never drink soda, but it was icy and I was hot. Maybe the ice was what did it. Anyway, I got to the meeting area and had missed the shuttle. I just sat down to wait for
Its impossible to get a feel for the size of the wreck without a special wide angle lens.
the next one.
Brunei is hot…really hot. When the shuttle arrived the young man asked if it was OK to take a little side trip to pick up his friends. I was in no hurry and there was air conditioning and so I said, “No problem.” I got a private tour of the city, and that was a darn good thing, because that was the extent of my sightseeing.
I got to the hotel and collapsed from the heat. I awoke after dark, hungry. The restaurant coffee shop was closed, but the front desk said there was a night market within walking distance and there was plenty of food available so I followed the lights and the locals as they made their way to the festivities…in honor of the King’s birthday.
I watched a bit of the entertainment. I was thirsty so I had a sweet iced green tea. Then I had some brown noodles and rice and bought some local kettle corn to take back to the hotel. Everything was $1. Suddenly my stomach was turning…it didn’t look like I was going to find a usable toilet and I began the race back to the hotel.
Diver swimming past the outer deck of the wreck called the Dolphin.
Dark allies were beginning to look like destinations. I made it to the hotel, barely, and up the elevator to the public restroom.
I got back to my room, took some medication and fell asleep. The next day I felt moderately better so I booked a tour and a day of diving. I went out for food and when I got back the front desk said, since I was alone the tour would be 80 more Rupees, almost double what it had been. I said no thanks and decided to snoop around on my own. For the time being I took some more medication and took a nap. When I woke up I prepared my dive gear and camera for the dive the following morning.
Dive day dawned and I was ready. It was a twenty five minute drive to the dive boat and I was still feeling pretty good.
At the dive store people were beginning to gather their equipment. Introductions were made…there were four ex-pats from the other main city. And another tourist from England but living in China. They had driven about an hour to get to the dive store. I had brought my
LADDERS MAKE INTERESTING PHOTOS
The fish was a convenient photo model.
fleece jacket for the boat ride because sometimes boat rides can be chilly, due to the wind. Not in Brunei…it was hard to breathe it was so hot. I looked kind of silly with that jacket.
It was about twenty minutes to the first dive site…The American Wreck. It was a fairly deep dive, but the water felt good and I found a few corals and fish to photograph. We did our surface interval in the boat, then did the second dive, also a wreck dive, The Dolphin. It was newer and a local wreck with some interesting railings and three levels. I went through the deck, but declined to scrunch through the narrow openings to penetrate the wreck. My camera is bulky and I just didn’t have the energy to negotiate the tight spaces.
When we returned to the dive store I rinsed all my dive gear and hung it to dry. After about an hour I got a ride back to my hotel. I had made the decision not to book more dives. My health was questionable and it looks like the name of the game in Brunei diving is Wrecks. Not my first love. But
BIG PUFFER FISH
About two feet long, he looks like he is going to have lunch.
the diving was comfortable and the divemasters were helpful and professional.
I thought about going back to the night market, but my heart wasn’t in it. Instead I went downtown to a local restaurant and ate more chicken and rice. I am sick of chicken and rice. No appetite and really tired.
The next day was my final full day in Brunei. I decided to go to the Cultural Museum and the mosque. I walked slowly and enjoyed figuring out how to see the exhibits…I had to leave my shoes outside and rent a locker for my back pack. Cameras were not allowed. There was no entrance fee. Everyone was helpful and kind. I started looking at all the expensive gifts other countries had given the King and Queen. It was very interesting, but I felt my energy waning. I made my way to the gift shop where a very nice young woman applied smelling salts to my forehead, my knees, my belly and the nape of my neck. It felt good and I liked the attention…like a little kid who is sick. I bought my mandatory refrigerator magnate for my daughter Lauren. I told her we could
CLOCK AT ROUNDABOUT
Helped me find my way back to my hotel.
have invested all the money I spent on the magnates covering our refrigerator, but really I am quietly pleased with her interest and enthusiasm, and of course, the support I get from my family. I also bought the little bottle of smelling salts. I put on my shoes and walked back to the hotel, again happy that it had such a high profile. It was easy to spot on the skyline.
I packed and left the hotel in the shuttle I had arranged to go to the airport. I stood in line for probably forty-five minutes (the wrong line, it turned out) and just when it was my turn to go to the counter I collapsed. Suddenly I was sitting on the floor like a little kid with my feet out in front of me. No one was more surprised than me. The Airline staff were concerned. They brought a wheel chair and took me to a private room. They called in a medic. Luckily my vitals were good, I just had no energy, having eaten very little for four days. It was nice to know I wasn’t seriously ill. I was slipping toward self-pity. I was jealous of
PHOTO OF LOCAL ARCHITECTURE
Very interesting blend of east and west.
all these capable, laughing travelers. Getting older sometimes hands out surprises.
It didn’t take long to accept my new status however. The good news was I had a personal escort service for the rest of the day. I didn’t have to worry about immigration, customs, or baggage. I didn’t have to stand in line to board the airplane. I had two flights, one to Kota Kinabalu and another to Tawau, Malaysia and it has never been easier. I rode down the ramp to the airplane. I was given preferential seating and was met at the next airport with another personal escort. What a relief?
I had a long lay-over and my assistant left me at Dunkin Donuts. I was chilled from the non-stop airport air conditioning. I wanted to cross the aisle and lie down but worried that maybe the man who was coming to get me wouldn’t see me. My stomach was turning. I have two days in a hotel in Tawau…I hope I am on the mend by then. The whole reason for going to Malaysia was to dive…it is looking unlikely that I will be well in time.
When it seemed like nothing else
Really close to my hotel, but even so I was too weak to see much of it. And the heat never disipated.
could go wrong…our flight was delayed by technical difficulties and we were off-loaded and waited for another plane for an hour and a half…you can imagine what my over active imagination was doing? This seems to be a trip for firsts…I don’t want to find out how it feels to slide down one of those inflatable exits into the ocean. My friend, Michael says don’t borrow trouble and I quickly quieted my superstitious mind.
When I finally reached my destination, Tawau, Malaysia, it was dark and we found a taxi to take me to the Garden City Hotel. Suddenly I was on my own again. Many thanks to Royal Brunei Airlines and Malaysia Airlines for their care and concern. It had been a comfortable, if unusual, journey.
Tot: 1.012s; Tpl: 0.095s; cc: 15; qc: 29; dbt: 0.0173s; 1; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb