Back to updating backdated entries yet again.
In the month of May last year, the hubby was posted to Brunei for a month within a short notice even though he was due for another 3-month overseas detachment soon after.
He was not able to make it back for my birthday week and suggested that I went over for a few days instead. Thinking about his back to back overseas postings, I packed my bags and brought work there to do even though I had a very able department back at home.
Everyone at work told me to enjoy my holiday to which I exclaimed, "I'm going to BRUNEI. Nobody goes to Brunei for holiday."
Brunei is not a holiday destination in it's own right and you know, I did not even treat that trip as a holiday as in my very "atas" city girl mind, I thought that there was NOTHING I could do at Brunei but work.
How wrong I was.
Other than doing a few hours of work, each day was packed with activities and lots and lots of pigging out. Though Brunei is not a fantastic place for long term relocation, it certainly offers quite a fare amount of entertainment for a week's stay. Last but not least, the food in Brunei was AWESOME to the max!
~*Family Dinner Cum Supper Before I Flew Off*~
In my family, there is an unspoken rule of eating out together for everybody's birthday. Everyone had to make time for dinner and nobody was to be absent. Therefore, there were times when a birthday celebration could be advanced or way belated as long as everyone was present.
It was an advanced birthday dinner for me.
I always love good old zi char at hawker centres.
By the time I ended work that night, dinner had become a supper affair. Nobody's complaining as long as we got together to eat.
~*All Packed and Ready to Go*~
I would always bring a book whenever I travel and at that time, I was reading The Great Gatsby.
It was a few hours flight and upon landing, there was a warm welcome from kh and his colleagues.
In actual fact, they weren't giving me a warm welcome. It just so happened that everyone ended work late and were famished for supper. We bonded over supper but as I was still very new to the group, I was too shy to whip out my camera to take photos of the very delectable local fare.
The situation soon changed in the impending days to come and it became a drill for everyone to wait for me to finish taking photos of the food before they started. Some of them even helped me to arrange or tilt the plates.
~*Day 1: My Birthday*~
In the morning, kh got ready for work and told me to go downstairs as he wanted to introduce me to the rest of his colleagues. He told me to take my camera with me but I brushed his suggestion aside while wondering aloud that it was a really strange idea.
When we got downstairs, the "office" was dark and the curtains to one section of the room was drawn. Upon pulling aside the curtain, everyone shouted "Happy Birthday".
I was truly surprised and touched beyond words for it was not just the people I met at supper the night before but the whole team at Brunei who had gathered, including the "boss". I felt so embarrassed for I'm nothing but an unimportant person next to many important people there.
Besides the very simple words flashed on the projector, they also ordered a durian cake in the shape of a durian.
Somebody brought a camera and thanks to him, I have these photos to keep for memories.
After the cake cutting, I went back upstairs to do my work and surfed the Internet while the hubby was working.
This was my very cute old-fashioned Mickey and Minnie wallpaper at that time. I simply love old fashioned Mickey, don't you?
I had to clear my email notifications from Facebook every few hours. Facebook is amazing, really. You realised that so many more friends care about you to wish you happy birthday on your wall.
[Read the above with some sarcastic humour, will you?]
In the late afternoon, the wife of one of kh's colleagues came over with her daughter. The whole family had relocated due to the husband's posting to Brunei and both husband and wife are very familiar with the country like the back of their hands. His wife had volunteered to show me around the city till the guys ended work.
The first and only time I saw both mother (K) and daughter (Leanne) was a few years back. Leanne was a mere toddler back then.
Now, she's such a vocal little 5-year-old. I love her to bits! In the photos below, she belted up her bearbear for fun and pushed the stroller herself. She claimed she was driving bearbear.
I really envy the close bond between K and Leanne!
We visited a mall and had some shakes at Dairy Queen.
Very soon, I became Leanne's favourite person. Before I came into the picture, kh was her favourite person in Brunei. Throughout the duration of the trip, she often stuck to me and forgot all about kh.
In the evening, we headed to the family's home.
Leanne has a little brother called Ethan who is really such a darling as well.
Kh was let off early as the "boss" told him to take me out for a good dinner.
I was so full and could not think of eating anything. Kh suggested Tian Tian Chicken Rice which was around the corner. It is supposedly famous in Brunei.
The chicken was tender; the rice was fragrant and tasty without it being greasy. Most good chicken rice has got relatively oily rice with a rich chicken taste but not for this. I gobbled down everything within minutes even though I wasn't hungry.
I haven't seen such old-school Chinese calendar in years.
After dinner, kh showed me around the city before we went to the famed THE Mall. Yes, it's accented "THE" as claimed by the people there. THE Mall is the most happening mall in Brunei. It houses the most popular cineplex in Brunei.
There was not a shop that I fancied there except for a shop which sold computer stuff. I bought a mouse as I had forgotten to pack my mouse into my luggage.
Other than the cineplex which sold cheap movie tickets, there was nothing about THE Mall that enticed me.
We ended the day watching Fast 5 which I enjoyed surprisingly. It departed from the theme of street racing which was prevalent in all the other films in the Fast series. I liked the humour and action throughout the show.
The chicken rice birthday dinner became the talk of the office for the next few days. Everyone excitedly asked kh where he had brought me to celebrate my birthday and was flabbergasted when he told them "Tian Tian Chicken Rice".
That night, I was video skyping with my bestie Tiff who was in San Francisco back then. Upon hearing that the hubby had brought me to eat chicken rice for my birthday, she gave him the universal sign.
~*Day 2: The Day I Discovered I Love Teh-C Special*~
In Singapore, we could order tea (teh) from a food centre in many ways. Refer to the list below:
- Teh, tea with condensed milk
- Teh-C, tea with evaporated milk and sugar
- Teh-C-kosong, tea with milk and no sugar
- Teh-O, tea with sugar only
- Teh-O-kosong, tea without milk or sugar
- Teh tarik - Malay tea mixed with evaporated milk, usually of the Carnation brand. During preparation, the tea is tossed repeatedly from one mug to another to create a thick froth (hence the name teh tarik, meaning '"pulled tea")
- Teh halia, tea with ginger water
- Teh-peng, tea with ice, also known as Teh-ice
- Teh-siu-dai, tea with milk and less sugar
- Teh-gah-dai, tea with milk and more sugar
My favourite type of tea to order in Singapore is Teh-peng but once I discovered Teh-C (aka Teh-Si) Special in Brunei, I could never quite go back to my Teh-peng roots. I was in agony for the next few months after I got back from Brunei for I craved for Teh-C Special every single day.
I especially love the Teh-C Special variant with wheatgrass. I would feature this variant soon. The one shown below is a concoction of red tea, evaporated milk and gula melaka.
My love for Teh-C Special is unabashedly shared by a Kuchingnite who had a whole page dedicated to this delectable and highly addictive drink. To know more about this drink, head over to http://tehcpeng.net/thedrink/ where the author has done such an awesome write-up on it, I wish to steal his words.
The rest of our dinner that day at Hai Wai Tien deserved some spotlight too.
Our company for dinner.
Besides Leanne's family, another Singaporean family has relocated to Brunei for the same reason and I was acquainted with them that evening. While 5-year-old Leanne has a younger brother, 4-year-old Hong Zhi has a younger sister with both younger siblings being of the same age. They are all such lovely little kids.
Volume 2 coming soon!