BRUNEI - A Kingdom of us and them

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April 30th 2016
Published: April 30th 2016
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Brunei has oil and gas to thank for its prosperity and unlike other countries, tourism is not an essential source of income. Oil was discovered in 1929 and Brunei has prospered ever since despite the Japanese invasion. It became independent in 1983 and the present Sultan who resides in Istana Nurul Iman, the Palace of Light rules.

There is no income tax and continues to be one of the worlds richest nations per capita.

We had a distant view of the Palace of Light from the river before heading to one of the many mosques. The second mosque overlooking the Kampung Ayer (stilted village) is one the most magnificent in South East Asia. Built in 1958 by British architects it is surround by its own man made lake.

It is called the Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque and no expense was spared - Italian marble floors and walls, English stained glass windows, Saudi/Belgian carpets and granite from China.

Kampung Ayer is the worlds largest stilted village, home to some 30000 Bruneians these villages have all mod cons, electricity and air con. This "Venice of the East" have traditional industries- weaving , silverware and brassware amongst them. The final stop was the Royal Regalia building, which was built in 1992 to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of the present Sultan. The collection includes, crowns, carriages and costumes with a replica throne used on state occasions. There is even the Royal Chariot. A very them and us country with contrasts of the people living in the stilted villages and the 'haves' living in larger houses around the city. A final aside, the Sultan who was educated at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst has a collection of cars which includes 130 Rolls Royces, 531 Mercedes, 367 Ferraris, 362 Bentleys, 185 BMWs, 177 Jaguars and 160 Porches. WHY!!!!

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