Friday, May 25, 2012 | By: BlackGargie

57 Reasons Why I Like Living in Brunei

I was browsing Facebook when I found this link to an article written by Delwin Keasberry and I thought I'd like to share to everyone. It's actually pretty cool.

Greetings Readers! I was combing the Web for content on Living in Brunei and I came across the following post on Mr Brunei Resources' blog. "57 Reasons Why I Like Living in Brunei". According to Mr BR, it was written over 15 years ago by an American, Steve Ryan. My guess is that Steve was an expat working in Brunei for a while. Mind you, it was written in 1997 but nonetheless, have a read. It's loads of fun! If any of you know of Steve or of the original source of these 57 reasons, do let me know.

1. Everybody drives on the wrong side of the road but head-on collisions are very rare.

2. If you wake up in a grouchy mood, it passes quickly when you see all the middle-aged businessmen marching around wearing black fezzes, bright green/purple/yellow/blue primary-colored pajamas, and gold-embroidered skirts.

3. You get an automatic wakeup call every morning from the muezzin at the mosque, even if you forget to set your alarm.

4. Peaceful. Only the military has any guns, and they never shoot them.

5. It's really a change to live in a country where the one guy worth more than $30 billion is a decent, polite, college-educated human being who is genuinely concerned about the welfare of others and not an evil, petty-minded, greedy monopolistic geek peddling lousy software.

6. It's a hoot to see cute giggly teenage Muslim girls wearing their head scarves and generally acting like, well, cute giggly teenage girls.

7. The Government can hang anybody they want, but they never bother to.

8. No obnoxious drunks. (OK! Very few, then!)

9. Very little crime. But they cane the HELL out of anybody who steals your stuff or vandalizes your new car.

10. Admission to the big Jerudong amusement park is free, and so are all the rides.

11. No rednecks, baseball, or tractor pulls.

12. Chinese, Malaysian, Bruneian, Thai, and Filipino girls are so cute.

13. Gurkha soldiers are pleasant chaps and smile all the time, even when marching in formation in the hot sun wearing throat-cutter kukris.

14. No poverty or homeless people spare-changing you.

15. Sultan has more airplanes than the national airline, and cooler ones too.

16. No irritating politicians, deranged TV evangelists, or tiresome election rhetoric.

17. Many amusing English mistakes in local newspaper every single day.

18. All Bruneian bigshots and Gov't Ministers drive fast Turbo Porsches, Mercedes, BMWs, and Jaguars so police never dare to run speed traps.

19. Only 150 Americans here so each of us is considered very interesting, especially to the local female populace.

20. Sultan will wave back to you if you wave to him on the street or while driving.

21. No American football, golf, or basketball shown on television. Traditional national sports in Brunei are spinning big wooden tops (no kidding) and kicking a rattan ball over a badminton net.

22. Kids wear the funny fezzes, pajamas, and head scarves too.

23. Police cars are all BMW 735i's.

24. Weird plants, bugs, and animals everywhere. Big troops of proboscis monkeys in the Temburong forest!

25. Free bananas and coconuts.

26. You can safely see creatures that would give Jacques Cousteau nightmares, just on a visit to the Fish Market.

27. Water taxis have rowdy drivers that enjoy splashing and rocking other boats with their wakes.

28. Fun to learn to shift gears and adjust the radio with your left hand.

29. OK to either A) drive like a maniac, or B) poke along at 15 MPH looking at all the weird stuff by the side of the road. Nobody gets mad; everybody does one or the other.

30. Geckos scuttling all over your house instead of cockroaches. They make funnier noises, too, like: "Chuck - CHUCK!"

31. Cobras and pythons generally stay in the jungle and not in town. But no problem to go find some to play with if you really want.

32. Three words: It's Not Houston. Three more: Or New York.

33. People like to set things on fire over here. It's ok to burn things in your front yard in huge flaming pyres, and nobody gets excited even when the roadsides catch fire, which they frequently do. You can also quickly spot roadside satay snack vendors by spotting the dense smoke and flames billowing from their grills.

34. Cops are polite even when they catch you doing something you're not supposed to be doing.

35. Monitor lizards walk funny, all bowlegged with their stomachs held up as high off the ground as possible.

36. Technical mistakes during local TV evening news are hilarious.

37. Get to see lots of funny-talking British expatriates and ridiculous-looking tourists wearing black socks and shorts.

38. Demonstration of even the simplest UNIX computer-hacking tricks draws genuine gasps of awe at your technical prowess.

39. They have no shortage of HBO, CNN, Discovery Channel, fast computers, and Jolt Cola.

40. Dirt-cheap pirated software and five-dollar bootleg first-run videos even in the big reputable department stores.

41. Funny to watch women who are 4 feet tall wearing head scarves and big sunglasses trying to drive huge Mercedes.

42. You can take up as many spaces as you want when you park and nobody will try to kill you.

43. Odd, interesting local language but everybody speaks English readily.

44. America considered a weird scary faraway place that few people are ever likely to go to.

45. Plenty of unusual odors you have never smelled before. (Some, you never want to smell again.)

46. At night every bush and hedge in your yard buzzes, chitters, hoots, chirps, croaks, whistles, creaks, moans, honks, rattles, hisses, hums, grunts, etc. etc.

47. Royal Brunei Airlines stewardesses' uniforms. I can't describe it, you'd have to be here to believe it.

48. Karaoke restaurants heavily taxed and strictly regulated as public nuisances.

49. Fun to drive by the Sultan's Palace and watch the policemen in their little guardhouses trying not to look utterly bored out of their minds.

50. Get to surprise everyone by quickly agreeing with their criticisms of the USA's interventionist foreign policies, and then enjoy listening to them complain we don't do enough to help other nations.

51. Get to watch scratchy Indian movies on TV where the hero and heroine wail nasally and dance around each other grimacing in an amusing and incomprehensible manner.

52. All Muslim, Christian, Chinese, and other folks' religious, traditional, national, and what-not holidays are recognized as official days off for the government and the banks; since these employ over 50% of the people of Brunei, everybody takes these days off. This works out to every day being an official holiday from Thanksgiving to the end of February, and about half the working days in the other months. With so many cultures, it's always somebody's holiday.

53. They have real pirates over here, which adds a definite sense of adventure to any yachting excursion.

54. If your change comes out to somewhat more than fifty cents, they'll often round it off in your favor up to the next dollar, except in the big Japanese department store.

55. Jollibee has MUCH better burgers than McDonald's, and they have killer slow-burn chili sauce.

56. No 7-11s, Stop 'N Gos, K-Marts, etc. Stores tend to have more interesting and mellifluous names like (looking out window) - SYARIKAT PERNIAGAAN ANEKA TUJUAN.

57. Interesting, colorful money with little plastic windows in it and cool pictures of Sultan, airport, oil rigs, plants, etc., that seems to spend much more readily and less painfully than real greenbacks.

Monday, May 21, 2012 | By: BlackGargie

Fiesty Little Bugger

It seems that Jr has started to make full use of her limbs and all.

As I have mentioned in the previous entry, Jr has been found to be a girl, but of course, it's just the first scan. If by 6th or 7th month, the doc doesn't see a dick, it'll be confirmed, but we're keeping our options open just in case.

My maid said not to trust the scans too much anyways, coz she had 4 ultrasounds during the course of her pregnancy telling her that her baby is a girl, but when delivery time, the baby turned out to be a boy. LOL!

I'm like TOTALLY neglecting my drawings these days. I've finished drawing my La Nouche comics as per my list of things to draw in my idea book, but still haven't gotten round to inking them, and I'm trying to finish at least one chappie of my Sidek Bros doujin but I keep procrastinating. Jr has really occupied my days and mind these days...

By the way, I've registered to the government clinic so that I'll be eligible to give birth in the hospital. It's a standard procedure thing so that when it's time for delivery, no need the fuss of all the paperwork, but that means from now on, I am to take my appointments to the government clinic and I can't go to private clinics anymore

But I'm still gonna go for private clinic though, as a 2nd opinion, not that I'm telling them! LOL! But maybe then I don't need to go to private clinic so often, coz it'll save me money. Government clinics and hospital treatments are free if you're a local or if you're husband's local, so yeah, I get free medical treatment coz my hubby is local.

Woke up super early today to get my blood and urine test for the government clinic records, as per insisted by my mom in law so that there would not be a long line, but turns out the line was almost non-existent to begin with. And they move pretty fast. I didn't even have to wait for more than an hour because there was only 2 people before me and things were done pretty quick. I did see a mother before me who had to take a glucose drink to test her blood sugar level or something and the amount of glucose vs water was like 1:2! Seriously! One-third of glucose powder and two-thirds of water. That is just super sweet! If you weren't diabetic, THAT is gonna make you super diabetic.

A lot of blood was taken though: they used 3 different-sized test tubes to collect my blood, each one for a different sort of test purpose. The urine test had to be done at home beforehand as they got me a urine container when I registered, and was a little gross for me to try and aim since it's small and not like the kind that I usually use in the private clinic (a plastic cup), but I somehow managed. Right now there's a slight bruise on my arm where they took my blood, but no big deal. I've donated blood before, so it's no different than that.

Yeah, it is a lot of drama, it's my first kid after all.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. You'll be the first to know that Jr has her first kick 2 days ago. She's super fiesty. She can even complain. There was once when I slept sideways on my left and she kicked the hell outta me, so I turned right and she calmed down, LOL, so cute.

We've sorta decided on names. We're keeping our options open, just in case the machine and the docs are wrong about the gender. We're naming Jr Garrus (if boy) and Liara (if girl). They're our fav charas in our fav game Mass Effect.

Yeah, so much for having gamer parents. XD Anyhow, unless you're an avid gamer, no one would know from whom we named our kids anyways.

We're also trying to decide on the Chinese name. Since we're chinese, our kid must have both English and Chinese name. Thinking of giving the boy the Chinese name 'dragon' and the girl the Chinese name 'Phoenix'.

Well, it's pretty fitting, considering that this is the year of the dragon, and the equivalent counterpart of the dragon is the phoenix.

Right now, trying to cope with Jr's fiestiness and actually starting to play some classical/instrumental music for her, and the only instrumental songs I have would be Final Fantasy songs that are in my iPad. Well, she seems to like it, so better than nothing!
Thursday, May 17, 2012 | By: BlackGargie

It's A Girl~!

Went for my latest checkup last night as per my appointment, and finally managed to get certain unanswered questions about Jr, as well as finding Jr's gender.

The usual standard procedure of weight, urine and blood pressure test applied, and the docs did notice the static unchanged weight of mine. My last appointment showed that I was 68.5kg, and it hasn't changed yet, even though Jr has been growing. I asked that question about my weight despite the growth of Jr, and the doc said that overall I have to gain weight too, not just the baby, since the baby relies on the nutrients that comes from me. While I'm in my 2nd trimester, I should at least gain 1-1.5kg per month, and in my 3rd and last trimester, I should have at least 2-2.5kg weight gain per month.

Problem is if that's the case, then I'm not exactly putting on weight fast enough to catch up with Jr's appetite or something. Some of my chat friends tell me that they've known people who don't gain much weight yet they have a perfectly healthy baby, so I dunno how that would apply to me since the metabolisme of Asians and Westerns are slightly different.

Then came the ultrasound, where we get to see Jr again in bigger size. Jr has grown pretty big now, and is really curled up in a nice position, but mostly leaning towards the left. The placenta was apparently towards my right side of the uterus (and it's HUGE) but not resting on top of the uterus like it's supposed to. The docs said that while it's not uncommon on early stages, it's also not very preferable as it would obstruct the birth because standard safe birth is that the baby must come out first before the placenta. If the placenta hasn't moved up by the later stages of my pregnancy, there is a chance I might have to go under the knife, so to speak.

I don't want that to happen. I've heard from my BFF's wife that she couldn't produce milk well enough because she had surgery instead of natural birth, which shows that natural birth actually triggers milk-production, and I totally have plans to have Jr being breastfed for the sake of Jr's health as well as saving money on baby formula, and I'm not about to have that plan being ruined by this.

Then came the answer to our question: whether Jr would be a girl or a boy. And it seems that Jr's body position is very cooperative in showing off the genitals because it turns out Jr is a girl! Haha, she was sleeping (with a slight occasional twitch when the ultrasound device moved her way) with her legs open and the docs see that her privates are flat, indicating that it's a girl. It's just a preliminary head-start though. The docs said that by the later stages, if she still don't see any balls, Jr is definitely confirmed a girl.

Still, just in case the machine read wrong, we're still gonna get neutral clothes anyways.

Below is the latest ultrasound pics we got of Jr (still calling her Jr just in case it's a boy and not a girl as predicted):

She's about 360g in weight (which, according to the 'Baby Bible', as I call the pregnancy guide book, pretty much a regular weight) and we dunno how big she is, since she's all curled up like that and we can't really see the measurement. She's kinda light, I must admit, but the docs said other than her light weight, she's actually growing pretty well and her vital signs are good. Didn't get the picture or sound of her heartbeat though. But anyways, docs gave her a clean bill of health, so yeah.

I broke the news to my in-laws, and while both of us do think the placenta position is a cause for concern, we'll just have to see Jr's development and hopefully it would push it upwards to where it's supposed to be. They tell me to do more walks and stuff, but how would they know if it would make the placenta move upwards? If I keep doing so much walks, wouldn't gravity drive the placenta even lower?

As for the weight, my in-laws think that I should eat more and gain weight now, since the docs say so, and they tell me that if the placenta is huge and yet Jr is small, then Jr is not absorbing the needed nutrients and that I should do something about it. Which is kinda hypocritical, coz first they tell me to watch my weight and not gain for the sake of Jr's health, now they're telling me to gain weight for the sake of Jr's health, whereas the Baby Bible said the estimated average weight of my baby is roughly 340g during the 20th week and above period.

WTF? Now who the hell should I listen to? The docs, the book or my in-laws? What the hell do they want me to do exactly? First they tell me not to be fat, now they tell me not to be thin. What the hell is wrong with their conflicting advices? I bet again it's all about the stupid "Anything wrong with the baby is the mom's fault" regime again. Goddammit!

That's it. No more. I'm gonna do whatever I want and whatever I think is right, and I'm gonna prolly follow the doc's advice with a grain of salt and consult the Baby Bible from now on. No more stupid conflicting in-law superstitious nonsense advices.
Thursday, May 10, 2012 | By: BlackGargie

Pregnancy Woes

Been having this nagging feeling all day these few days.

I'm starting to have a noticeable show on my belly right now as Jr progresses. In fact, I was actually bigger after my long trip to Singapore now that I'm starting to go down to my 5th month.

Problem is my weight had not gone anywhere higher.

It had remained the same weight (fluctuating between 68 to 70kg) since the last time I weighed myself.

My hubby tried to rationalize that it's because Jr is absorbing all the weight and I couldn't gain as quickly as my body could catch up with, but that would be impossible because if Jr is gaining weight, it would reflect on me because I'M carrying their weight around. And I know I gain weight very easily and I don't really exercise much other than sitting my ass down all day doing table-related things.

My mom in law gave her usual negative scare tactic that Jr must be sleeping most of the time and not active enough to absorb the food I've been eating, and that I should exercise or walk around more to 'wake' Jr up to eat. When I told her that Jr was still growing though and that I've been eating normally as I always do and even if Jr doesn't gain weight, I should be gaining weight, she still thinks it's my problem.

Gee, let all the moms suffer the wrath of the inadequacies of your babies, why don't you?

My sis in law is prolly (surprisingly) the least judgmental as while she does see a bit of a problem there, she didn't straightaway latch on the "Oh, then it's YOUR FUCKING FAULT" blame game, rather she told me that either the weighing machine has a problem or Jr might, and that I should raise the concern to my doc.

I just really, really hope that there's nothing wrong with Jr, and that it's prolly something normal for first-time moms or something, and that Jr is growing OK and healthy. That's all I care about right now
Sunday, May 6, 2012 | By: BlackGargie

My Mini Honeymoon: Finale

The last day of my mini honeymoon was pretty much not so eventful. It's the usual last minute shopping and stuff, but first we had to go visit another Singapore relative of ours to hand them their shrimp crackers gift that my mom in law requested us to help pass to them. So at the same time, we decided to have lunch with them.

Technically, we wanted to go have lunch at the so-called Singapore's best chicken rice spot, which is in a food court just near our hotel area, but unfortunately it was a super long line for both Tien Tien and Ah Thai (they're rivals due to the former head chef having a falling out with the Tien Tien boss and quit and started his own business just right next to it out of spite and competition) that we decided to try dim sum instead. But sadly we made a mistake of not getting there early and well...this is the result:

Yup, super long line till we'd prolly had to wait FOREVER to get a seat, since business here is huge and people often go there in big groups and the workers there have no right to chase them out. So we ducked ship and decided to have bah ku teh instead at a nearby kopitiam in Tiong Bahru, nearby our Chinatown area too.

After lunch and small talk, and some gift exchanges in between, we decided to start our day with going to Funan, one of the digital malls in Singapore, coz I was tasked to get industrial earplugs for my buddy and my hubby needed to get some stuff for both his bro in law, the office as well as our BFF/cousin. Took a random shot here coz of the interesting colour scheme of the windows, as well as some other random shots.

We shopped at Funan for a while, and found what I needed, but sadly not really what my hubby needed, so we decided to see if the big shot digital mall Sim Lim would have what he needed, so I relented to get my buddy's earplugs there too, assuming that since they're the main digital mall, they would have everything there.

While we window-shopped for a while before going to Sim Lim, I caught sight of something super-interesting: a maid cafe! Seriously, a MAID CAFE!!

It's called Cawaii Kohii Coffee Dessert Lounge, and it had all the makings of an awesome real-life maid cafe. Dammit, I know I might sound like a perverted otaku right now, but seriously, I've always wanted to see a real-life maid cafe, and there it was, right there within Singapore! I HAD to get a shot of this! But unfortunately there were no cameras allowed inside the cafe, not even when you're a customer, so I just have to settle for taking pictures outside and try to get the best shot of the maids, which were REALLY dressed like maids, FTW!

Couldn't go in and have coffee in there as a customer, but this place will be my new target to go to the next time I stop by at Singapore.

Then we went to Sim Lim, got the brochures he needed to get for his bro in law and found the item our BFF needed, but not the exact model or make and the price was a little too much for his taste, so that was cancelled. We scoured everywhere but never got to find what my buddy wanted, and I was also trying to look for a better card reader, the same kind that our BFF had but I never got even though I went to the same place he bought it, and my feet were starting to kill me even though I want to walk some more and try my luck at other places in Sim Lim. Most likely coz I'm supporting Jr's weight as well while I'm walking, because usually I'm not that easily tired.

So in the end we decided to return to Funan again to get both the earplugs, and luckily managed to find the perfect exact card reader that I wanted. I felt bad for my hubby for not getting what he needed or wanted, but he said it was OK, and at least his health was much better than before.

Our generous relative came to pick us up to take us to the airport, and took us to tour Marina Bay again to let us have a glimpse of it in the daytime, and coincidentally there happens to be a dragon boat competition going on, so I managed to take a few shots as well as the scenery:

After the tour around, we were taken to the airport, wishing farewell to each other and promising to return and meet up again next time. The usual standard issue of registering and checking in, then getting some souvenirs for the guys back home, which include chocolates for my hubby's colleague and an odd request of getting cakes for my hubby's boss/cousin's wife, as well as some gifts from us to the kids at home. My legs were again killing me, somehow getting more tired than usual, and manage to run in with my hubby's other colleague who was going back on the same flight as we are and window-shopped around before flying off.

While the guys took a bathroom break and I was waiting for them, took some random shots:

Boarded the plane safely, though I actually slipped and fell, though luckily I landed on my knees and hands and not on my stomach where I would've hurt Jr, and while flying, I actually realized that Jr had grown a fair amount size since the day we left for Singapore. It wasn't that huge before, but now it looked like just swallowed half a watermelon or something! Wow, was Singapore food that nourishing?

My dad in law came to pick us up after we checked out, and we got home roughly almost midnight. Home sweet home~! Though I wished we could've stayed in Singapore longer, but still, there's always next time.

That's all for my trip so far in Singapore. Hopefully the next time I go there, I will have even more amazing tales for you guys!