Friday, May 9, 2008

Wednesday 7th May - It's All About the Oil

Steve had to go to Kuala Belait (or KB, as its know to us locals!) to meet up with his boss. KB is at the opposite end of Brunei to BSB and it takes just over an hour to get there. On the way we stopped at the Megamas training centre, where much of the training for workers in the oil and gas industry takes place. There was some driver training going on, as well as some survival training.

For part of the survival training, the trainees are put in a mock up of a helicopter and lowered into a swimming pool. They go through various stages, getting lowered deeper into the pool each time, and they have to escape from the helicopter each time. The grand finale is when they not only get completely submerged, but also get turned upside down. I was suprised to learn that some of them were non swimmers as well. I couldn't imagine having to do any of it, let alone doing it and not being able to swim!

Steve had to pop into the office for an hour or so, so I sat by the pool at the Seaview Hotel, which is right on the beach, and yet again the beach was lovely, but deserted.

Once Steve had finished, we headed off to Malaysia, to buy some alcohol. Brunei is a completely dry country, however non-Muslims can take in 12 cans of beer and 2 litres of wine and/or spirits. There is a small duty-free shop just over the border so we went in there, bought some beer and gin, and headed back into Brunei, 4 stamps in our passports later!

We headed back via KB, stopping to have a look around (its fairly small, so not lots to see) and also to buy some curry puffs. They are just like small cornish pasties, filled with chicken or beef curry - delicious! We then drove on to Seria, which is a town built mainly by Shell. It looks very much like an army camp, with all the houses looking the same - just like chalets. I wouldn't fancy living there at all.

There are 'nodding donkeys' bringing up the oil all over the place, and right by the beach is a monument to the billionth barrel of oil, which was produced in 1991.

Not surprisingly, petrol and diesel is extremely cheap in Brunei - 50 litres of diesel costs B$16, about £6!

On the way back from Seria, we spotted a sign for a beach that we hadn't seen before - Pantai Tungku. We decided to investigate, and from the beach we had a great view of the Empire Hotel and Country Club - the best hotel in Brunei.

After heading into Gadong to buy some supplies for the apartment, we headed back home for a lazy evening.

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