While Greg and Phil were off climbing a beautiful mountain that I wasn’t willing to shell out the money for, Jenny and I decided to visit the tiny and quiet country of Brunei. We had been warned by several people that the place was boring, but decided we owed it to the universe to check this out for ourselves.
It all just felt very… UnAsian. Downtown was freakishly quiet. Cars stopped for pedestrians to cross the road. The country is dry, so there are no bars or karaoke joints.
In one of the stranger World Cup viewing experiences of my life, we went to the only 24 hour coffee house in all of downtown Bandar Seri Begawan. Sitting at 2:30 in the morning drinking tea and eating biscuits watching the US go down early against England and then pick it back up right at the end of the second half. Being talked trash to by a Chinese-Malaysian-Bruneian in an Argentinian jersey, because he liked British English better. Trying to figure out whether the coffee house was a front for a smuggling operation, a mail-order bride operation, or perhaps both. Finally ending the game, being stoked that we managed NOT to lose it.
Most interesting experience: sitting at the (same) coffee shop watching Slovenia beat Algeria. A man walks up and, without a word, takes a cigarette out of Jenny’s pack. Stares her in the face as he lights it, and then walks away. 45 minutes later, after being forgotten, he reappears. Grabs my hand, and forces a ring into it. Still without speaking. Walks slowly away. Sweet souvenir for Jenny, probably stolen. Odd experience for both of us. Perhaps the most exciting thing that happened in all of Brunei.