We have been living in Brunei for a little over three months now, which means we are halfway through our time here. It’s fun and all but I won’t deny that there are some things I miss about home (in no particular order):
Happy, shiny people who I love. Enough said:
You can get fresh milk in Brunei but it’s ludicrously expensive and so Hubs and I are having to get used to the taste of UHT. The other issue I have with milk here is that not all coffee shops stock low-fat or skimmed milk, which has led to some seriously irate mornings when Hubs and I can’t get that caffeine fix.
I love walking around London- it’s the best way to explore and get to know the city. If there’s a choice between getting the tube and walking, I’d probably walk. In Brunei however, not all roads come with pavements, which means it isn’t even possible to nip to the local grocery store on foot as the nearest one is more than a mile away and would require rising life and death crossing the roads to get there.
I am a total foodie. I love eating out and London has no shortage of options. Brunei, on the other hand, has loads of restaurants where you can get all the fried chicken you want and then some. There are a couple of really great sushi restaurants and of course the delicious nasi lemak is served everywhere BUT what you won’t find is gourmet cuisine.
Those of you who keep up with my posts will know that the sale of alcohol is forbidden in Brunei although Hubs and I found a speakeasy in a hotel where you can get an ice cold beer. We keep a pretty well stocked bar at home and, as I’ve said before, drinks out on the balcony are great but could someone just please take me to an over-priced bar and get me a proper drink?
You’ve been living in a dry country, Brunei for almost four weeks. Of course that doesn’t mean you’ve been living the dry life for four weeks because the import of alcohol is still allowed. So you went on your first ever booze cruise; you and Hubs went over the border into Malaysia, popped into a nice looking shop not far from Customs and found the place ridden with booze tourists all out in the sun, drinking. At 10AM. I guess it’s been more than four weeks for them so no judging here. Well, maybe a little judging. Hubs goes for the sixteen pack of canned beer but you’re there for something else and you find it for a bargain £13: Tanqueray Gin. Back at Customs you have to fill in a little orange slip declaring your intoxicating contraband. There’s a bit of a queue here as one can imagine but it’s worth it.
As good as a beer out on the balcony on a hot day is, and oh my, it is good; it doesn’t quite fill the void of a great British pub or even a rubbish British pub for that matter. You miss the sad looking furniture, sticky carpets, grumpy bar staff and not to mention the soggy fish ‘n’ chips. Oh for a packet of crisps and a glass of stale wine!
So you get researching online and several clicks later you hear a juicy rumour; In a small hotel, which is a little bit out of the way of town there is a secret bar. A Speakeasy! Not one of those pretentious London bars that popped up a few years ago and you never quite understood the fuss about but a real Speakeasy of the legally forbidden sorts. You call the hotel for a bit of fact-checking. Or rather you make Hubs do it: “Oh hi, is The Lounge open?” he asks, “Who are you and where are you calling from??” asks the gnarly Receptionist. A few moments later he is put through to another woman, a suspicious type but you’re proud to see Hubs stand up to the interrogation and he obviously passed the test because the call ends with him being told that last orders are at 10PM. Straight to the hotel you go where you’re greeted by yet another surly woman asking what you want “The lounge?” you say. “Go ask at second floor!” she snaps.
At the second floor two young women are sitting aimlessly at a table in the hallway. You look over at them and ask for The Lounge. They point you in the direction of a room at the end of the hall. Your heart is racing by this point. You walk along the hall, passing a number of guest rooms and arrive at the end of the hall. You pause and look around as you get the feeling someone is watching you. Creepy. Suddenly a door opens and a Chinese man beckons you into his room. In you go and at once you notice the sticky floor. Through the cigarette haze you make out tired and old furniture, it’s definitely on the sad side. You find a couple chairs and a woman behind the bar looks up but doesn’t bother taking your order. No matter as, a few minutes later, a waiter comes over with two chilled beer glasses, filled to the brim. There’s even fish ‘n’ chips on the menu! Welcome back, Friday nights down the pub!