31st March - Brunei
Brunei - the 5th richest country in the world - has just 417,000 inhabitants but 1.2m cars. Given that petrol is c20c a litre and loans are interest free, one can understand. Also NO income tax, free education and free healthcare. Great roads and houses. One of only two countries in the world with no public debt. No litter. What not to like? Well, no alcohol, no smoking, no elections, no dissent and no fun (after 9.00pm) The King has full executive power - he is the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister, the Defence Minister etc. He employs 85% of the population and owns everything. Brunei has been under martial law since 1962. But, according to our guide, everyone loves him and don't want any change. Every year he gives the keys to 1000 houses to grateful citizens.
One wonders what will happen when the oil revenues run down?
|First a visit to the Maritime Museum. No cameras, no bags, no shoes|
|Then the market which was a bit too 'clean' compared to all the other wet markets we have visited|
|The monkeys (there were hundreds...) looked kind of cute. But they were called 'Stealer Monkeys' as they would take your sunglasses, bags etc... Keep clear!|
Then onto the Royal Regalia Museum. (No shoes, no
cameras, no phones...) It was floor after floor dedicated to the
wonderfulness of the King incl all of the gifts that had been given to
This is the chariot used by our Queen Elizabeth 11 during her visit in the 1990s.
|Then onto the Water Village. But we got the impression that very few actually lived here. Was it just a tourist attraction? On the other hand, why would tourists come to Brunei?|
|We visited one of the houses. If you were looking for inspiration for a new kitchen design...look no further!|
|The Sulton Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque (1958). Each of the 28 domes is covered in 24carat gold...|
|The Jame Mosque which cost $1.2 BILLION. This is just one of the depositories for shoes...|
|As mosques go, it was pretty damned impressive!|
|Prime Minister's Offices.|