My title? My favorite candy as a child and I still can't pass them up when I see them in the store!
After several years in the Foreign Service traveling the world, I retired on July 1, 2014. What I've seen, who I've met and where I've been have been nothing short of amazing. I'm sad to see this chapter of my life come to a close, but retirement so far has been a blast. I've tried to chronicle my travels, thoughts and experiences here.
Last weekend Faye and I decided to do a little
exploring. Faye had seen a park on a
trip to the market so we set out to find it.
It didn't take long for our left turn, right turn, GPS Lucy talking to
us and then there it was. From the
street it looked great...lots of green space, a playground for kids, a gazebo
We had to circle around before we finally
found the entrance. Once parked, we headed out into this park. It
was deserted. It didn't take us long before we both commented that it sure did
need some TLC. The grass was overgrown, electrical boxes were open and
exposed wires sticking out at a 4 year old's level. Faye had gone to a
sort of zoo that was gorgeous when it opened and now, a couple of years later,
it too was overgrown and appeared no one was taking care of it. It was really a shame because it is such a large beautiful area and has so much potential.
He's down there somewhere...
We both heard a sound that I thought was go carts in
the distance. Something caught my eye
and I saw a speed boat flying across the water of the river that ran alongside
the park. We walked toward the walled
border of the park. I saw an opening and
as I approached it I noticed that it was several very wide steps that disappeared
into the water. Just then, I saw it.....a giant
Komodo Dragon!! He saw me at the same
time, our eyes met and my feet left the ground as I screamed and tried to turn
to my left to run. I ran smack into Faye
who heard me scream but didn't know why! The instant before I turned to run/jump/scream,
I saw this giant animal look like he was heading up the steps toward me but at
the last second, he dove in the water and disappeared.
Not the guy I saw but he looked JUST like this!
Faye was saying "WHAT WHAT WHAT?????" I told her and then we both realized how we
must have looked and we both cracked up.
We walked along the wall for a few more minutes until we were sure that
the dragon had left for good. The Komodo
Dragon is common in this area and this guy was probably 4-5 feet long....the
biggest damn lizard I've even seen! Of
course, now we can laugh at ourselves, which we've done many times since last weekend, but
at the time it was no laughing matter.
Here's a link to an article in the Brunei Times, the local English language paper.
This weekend Faye and I found a fabric/craft/knitting/costume/tailor store. And let me tell you, this store had
everything under the sun. Anything you
would need for a wedding, birthday, costume or any occasion was there, yarn, thread, plastic and silk flowers,
baskets...it was like a giant MJ Designs and Joann Fabrics rolled into
We decided that we needed to have
something made so I decided on a top and Faye was going to get 2 jackets and a
pair of slacks that would go with either jacket. As amazing as it sounds, the
gorgeous satin brocade was cheaper than cotton fabric. So we went back today, armed with pictures of
tops, jackets and pants downloaded from the internet that we wanted made. I decided to have 2 tops and a jacket
made. I fell in love with this gorgeous
red satin material and just had to have a jacket made out of it.
went about taking our measurements and wrote them all down. Another man sketched a design from the
pictures we had, noting any changes in sleeve lengths, neckline or length of
the jacket that we wanted. I found a beautiful
top online and it will have sheer
sleeves and a lined bodice. It will be made from the yellow print sheer fabric. Another top
was from a Simplicity pattern I found online and the fabric is a cotton with what looks like peacock feathers on it.
The whole experience reminded me of when I was serving in Pakistan and several of us found a leather man who could
copy a purse from a picture. I better have better control over how many pieces
of clothing I have made than I did with the leather purses!
We go back on August 5th to either
pick them up or have alterations done to them.
I've been in Bandar Seri Begawan for almost 3 weeks now
and am finally able to find my way around.The rental car has a Garmin GPS in it but sometimes it gets
confused.I wish I had a Sim card for my
iPhone because it is so much easier to use to get me from Point A to Point B.But I have a few landmarks that help and I can get back and forth to the
Embassy without any GPS assistance.Plus I can now find my way to the grocery store. I think I have mastered driving on the left side. Maybe.
A bit about Brunei...Brunei occupies 3,580 square miles
on the northern coast of the island of Borneo and is the smallest non-island
country outside Europe. The country is
comprised mostly of primary and secondary rain forest with only a small coastal
strip of land that has been cultivated. The
total population is approximately 375,000; 67% are Malays, 15% are Chinese and
6% are non-Malay indigenous people including tribal groupings and expatriots.
The country is 67% Muslim and recently celebrated the
end of Ramadan and following that was Hari Raya. Hari Raya is a week long celebration with open
houses and lots of food and inviting friends and family into your home. The abundance of food is sort of a reward for
a month of fasting during daylight hours.
I attended one and it was quite impressive.
tradition during Hari Raya is the opening of the Sultan's Palace and the
opportunity to shake hands with the Sultan and the Queen. The men and
women are in separate lines and the women visit the Queen and the men the
Sultan. She was most gracious and along with her were all her
Princesses. According to the newspaper, approximately 100,000 people over
2 days shook their hands. The Royal Color is yellow so you should not
wear that color in their presence...thankfully I had a non-yellow outfit to
This region is very tropical with afternoon showers
nearly every day. And after the showers
the humidity hits...and boy, does it hit!
I haven't been able to see a real sunset but at that time of day, the
sky is a golden yellow. I need to find a
sunset watching spot!
I haven't had time to do much sightseeing but I did make it to one of the mosques. It is the Sultan's father's mosque and it was beautiful. We couldn't go inside because there was some event going on but we walked all around the perimeter and got a few pictures. I have been to mosques all over (Muscat, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi) and think they are marvels in architecture. This one was no different. Amazing...
During my 4+ months here, I hope to do some regional travel like Bali, Kuala Lumpur and/or Bangkok. I've been to Bangkok so hopefully an island
will be on my travel itinerary!
It's been almost a week since I arrived in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei. I endured the 16 hour flight from Dallas to Hong Kong with no real bumps or bruises. Well, my hind end was a bit weary of sitting for that length of time but it got over it. The empty seat next to me was a welcome sight. Bandar is much like Hawaii. I hear the same bird that I hear on Kauai in the morning but the frogs are a different story. At night frogs, somewhere, make noises like a go cart track. The first night, that's what I thought was nearby because of the noise! But after talking to a few people, they told me it was the frogs. I've been told that the frogs I hear at night are big enough to eat the bull frogs, so I can only imagine just how big they are. After all, Brunei is on the island of Borneo and mostly rain forests. Snakes call Brunei home, so I'm not straying far from civilization! I googled snakes and Brunei (and Borneo) and seems there is every variety possible here. So one week of the 21 weeks I will be here is in the books. I hope I'll have lots of adventures to write about with pictures. After all, I'm just a 2 hour flight from so many cool places and I hope to visit a few of them!