Monday, September 13, 2010 | By: BlackGargie

A Royal Hari Raya

On the 2nd day of Hari Raya, my friends and I plan to go to the Sultan's Palace as the palace is opened to the public for 3 days for open house and gift-receiving, and also shaking hands with the royals. Since I've never been there before, even though I've stayed in Brunei for almost 4 years (yes, I know, it's sad -_-), this year I made it a point to go visit it, even though I was sporting a sore throat and a mild fever and everything.

Us getting ready for the journey, and my friend's cousin decided to now polish his shoes XD

Getting into the car

And away we go~!

You can see from here already that we have a challenging car obstacle ahead of us

So far, so good

Trigger-happy on people who came early and just came out with all the goodies

A car inspection. Caught smuggling royal silverware, perhaps? LOL

Some police and military-grade buses parked in line

Carpark search is futile~!

We decide to turn here to try our luck on parking

We went a little far down the road so we had to double-back a bit, but from that high angle, we were able to capture a pretty cool scenery of the palace in its almost entirety

Walking our way down on the way to the palace, you can see how many cars there are already parked, just imagine the amount of people we will have to brave through in the palace later on!

Colour-coded uniform row of duckies~!

Palace, here we come!

Tour buses ahoy ahead! Definitely tourists abound

Trigger-happy on some happy kids with their royal gifts

I was forced by my friend to go trigger-happy on these on the way to the palace -_-

This blue light is for the sake of traffic alert especially when the royals are about to come out of their humble abode. When there is indication that the royals want to come out to play, the guards will be notified and they will turn on the shining lights so that the cars will be alerted to stop and make way for the royals to pass through before clearing traffic

Trigger-happy on our dear ol' government servants

The royal palace gates

The name of the palace: Istana Nurul Iman, which means the Light of Faith or something like that

Entrance for the commoners

This is the area where you will wait for the bus to take you all the way to the palace building itself if you are not that inclined to walk there under the sun

Trigger-happy moments again on the outdoor arches

Here comes the bus~!

Next destination: Palace building

We're dropped off here after about 3 minutes of ride, then we have to walk the rest of our way there

Picture of the dome, which is 99.98% gold, or 22-24 karat. How I wish I could just go up there and chip some off. I'd be loaded for life

Destination complete! We're right outside the palace building entrance~!

People taking a break or waiting for friends after getting their royal gifts

Before entry, you must register your name in a form, and since my friend is bringing a group, he will register on our behalf as the head of the group he is heading

Le main entrance of the palace

Rules and regulations of dress code

Have to go through security and thermal scan first before you even dream of entering. Thank goodness my fever was not registered on their thermal scan XD

The great hallway within

The dining area, where there are probably a gajillion visitors there~!

Le plate with the royal emblem. Talk about class! No wonder people smuggle them in the past

We have to stand in line to get our food, but the gist of it is that there are four lanes and four booths of the same food each. And of course, since it's buffet style, this is the gist of the menu:

Cashew nut fried rice

Stew beef and fried chicken

Prawn and lamb rendang

Squid balls in BBQ sauce and chicken drumet

Sausages and lekor...

...and the only vegetable serving there is acar, which is pickled vegetables XP Not my fav

Ladies giving out the forks and spoons, and people even cut queue for that. Mannerless buggers

Now even the silverware has the royal emblem~! Now I really understand why they wanna smuggle it

Trigger-happy of the happy diners

They even fight for water!

The dessert section, that consists of:

Bread and butter blueberry pudding and custard pudding (I think)

Fruit cake, which actually tastes moist

And good ol' fashioned cookies both regular and chocolate chip

Free flow of Milo and soft drinks, in which the kids definitely fought for it

The line is starting, better get a move on

Trigger-happy moments while making my way to the waiting area

Le open air waiting area

My friend's mother and aunt couldn't make it because they wanted to wait for my friend's uncle who decided to join the last minute, so I was alone among the girls. Thank goodness I brought my book along to read or I would've been bored to death. After reading while waiting, we were called in to wait at the indoor waiting room, so we made our way through

Technically I wasn't supposed to take pictures of this, but I couldn't resist, since everyone was doing it as well with their cell phones, and even had flash in some of them and the guards never made any attempts to arrest or confiscate their phones. But just in case, I took these using my camera using my book as a cover. LOL! I hope I don't get in trouble for posting this

When the line moved on, we went our way to the area to meet and greet with the royals. There wasn't much there greeting, surprisingly. Maybe it was because it was close to grace period for visiting hours and most of them have left for lunch, but at least I got to shake hands with the Queen and some of the Sultan's sisters and also the wife of Prince Sufri, who looks very pretty indeed, and tall. Too bad I wasn't a guy, because I would rather have met and greeted with the Sultan instead, but unfortunately they have this ruling of segregating the men and the women in two lines, so I couldn't join the ranks of the men if I wanted to. I would really love to shake hands and meet face to face with the Sultan though.

I wonder if he could tell the difference if I were to dress up as a boy next year...

From that point, cameras were not allowed anymore, so the rest of the pics were taken after the meet and greet session

My royal gift

Trigger-happy moments again

The royals made their way out of the area to get their well-deserved lunch after past visiting hours. We weren't allowed to get too close to them, so I only managed to take pictures of their backs

Happy on-lookers who were also lucky as I am to see the royals walk past us

Random trigger-happy moments

Look at the vibrant colours of all our visitors~! It's like I've found the end of the rainbow~!

More trigger-happy moments of the palace inside

Some cute little kiddies and their families (I especially like the little girl who was barely even 8 or 9 cradling her little baby sib and rocking them to sleep)

Le Hari Raya card by His Majesty that comes with the gift

Tourists abound~!

Extra trigger-happy moments

We is being shooed

I wanted to take picture of the nice hedges but this damn sign got in the way

Pictures of people waiting for those who are still stuck inside the palace

Kudos to the cleaners for cleaning up our mess

Since it was past the grace period of visiting hours, no one can come in or go out, so my friend and his cousin are stuck in there until the next visiting hours, which is at 2pm, and since I came out early I have to wait. Surprisingly, contrary to many beliefs that women lines usually move slower than men, this year it was the other way around. LOL! There were really a lot of men (mostly Indians) in the line compared to the women, really

This is where I waited after being shooed away by the palace guards for my friends to show up

All aboard~!

Trigger-happy moments again

When it was roughly a bit after 2, I saw fresh new group of people starting to make their way from the palace to where I was, so I decided to just go back to the palace to wait for my friend and his cousin to come out

More trigger-happy moments

Kids with their raya money along with the gifts. I swear, some mothers actually came out with big shopping bags from Survey or SuperSave or Giant full of those boxes, like it was a grand sale or something! I thought you were supposed to be limited to one person XD

The guards stretching their legs via marching

Le TV crew of RTB covering the news of this event

A lone boy waiting for his family to come out

Finally, you guys made it alive~!

Time to go back to the car

Trigger-happy moments of the area as we made our way out of the palace grounds

Le difference between a woman's royal gift and a man's royal gift

This is how the content of the man's royal gift look like

This is how the content of the woman's royal gift look like

Though inside it's the same: chocolate beehive cake with almonds courtesy of the kitchen of the royal palace

That was my entire experience so far. It was tiring but an interesting experience. After years of being in Brunei, I have finally achieved the goal of entering the palace and see what the actual hype was all about.

I don't mind going again next year, if only to see what sort of new royal gift they have in store for us, and maybe hopefully get to finally actually see the Sultan face to face ^_^

Happy Hari Raya Aidilfitri 2010 to you one and all~!