Monday, 28 June 2010

A wet, wet Kids Hash

We did the Kids Hash yesterday on one of the beaches here. We could see the dark clouds and the rain approach us quickly before we set off; so even though it was lovely cool temperatures, we decided to go for just the short trail to try and get back before the rain.

Unfortunately, we didn't quite make it. The rain arrived (as fast as when you turn a tap) just as we walked down the last stretch of the beach.

We got just a little bit wet though, you should have seen the guys coming back off the long track..!
For the first time we actually didn't stay to play, nor for the on-on. It got pretty crowded under the tent with everybody trying to huddle to keep dry, so we made a run for it back to the car and went back home instead.
That's how it is sometimes, sometimes you just get defeated by the weather...

Sunday, 27 June 2010

For Kathy

Kathy - here's a photo just for you!

I started out writing this blog for friends and family back home, so they could follow our daily adventures in our new life. Little by little, it turned in to something more - a bit of a diary for myself, but also a point of information for other expats considering a life in Brunei. There aren't much information about Brunei out there on the net, so most of the time when anyone googles on "life+Brunei" or similar, they end up here!
Many of my friends here in Brunei also check in from time to time to see what's going on with us, and I've recently realized that lots of friends and family of my friends check in too, to see if there is any sightings on the blog of their friends!

For example, today I got a very nice email from my friend Nicole's sister-in-law, where she admits her addiction to my blog. Hence this photo from the Saturday party of me and the girls (Nicole to the left) just for her!

The hectic end of the year

June is always a very hectic month here in the little expat bubble that is our Brunei. It's the time when the social calendar is at it's busiest with tons of things getting crammed in before everybody flies off for the summer holidays.

This weekend we had the NZ Association Family Fun Day on Friday afternoon, Whanau Day; this year at the Yacht Club. A great event with yummy food, bouncy castle and games for the kids and a chance for us adults to catch up before the holidays.

Lollie scramble at the beach:

Friday night one of our friends celebrated her birthday with a cocktail evening...

Me and the birthday girl, Claudia, to my left (in beige).

... Saturday Lucas had a birthday party to attend in the afternoon and us a big, big joined 40th birthday party in the evening.
The birthday babes:

A celebratory 'haka':

Today it's Kids Hash, and then on-on for another busy week of school and activities... Only two more to go!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Happy Midsummers Day!

Yesterday was the biggest celebration day in the Swedish summer calendar - Midsommarafton.

It's a bit hard to be away from Sweden at this particular holiday (hm... I say that about most holidays, don't I..?), it's difficult to get the same feeling when you are abroad, even though we sure have tried.
Last year Anna and I celebrated Midsommarafton at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, together with a bunch of Singapore Swedes, which was kind of nice (in an expat-kind-of-way...), but this year we did nothing at all.
Midsummer is not like Christmas, where you can create you own traditions and celebrate just within your own family; Midsummer is a supposed to be a big feast where you celebrate together with lots of people - eat, dance around the Midsommarstång, drink snaps, sing songs and be merry!

A bit hard to recreate when there are just a couple of you (Swedes that is) in the country.

Thursday, 24 June 2010


No, unfortunately this is not a winning Lottery draw but just how I drive around Brunei at the moment...
My car is at the garage for service and to have some smaller jobs done, so I'm using Nathan's truck which unfortunately, is a manual.

Now, it's been a wee while since I last drove a manual car, and also this one has six gears. That's a lot of gears to choose from! Add to that the way the Bruneians are driving, you can appreciate there is a lot of changing gears going on!
Even the kids have noticed this extra activity whilst driving, and they are both wondering nearly every time we're out why we move that "stick" around so much?

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Can you email this?

While I was at the gym this afternoon, Lucas and Linnea had gone over to play a bit with Oliver. Misuzu told me Lucas had built up this big "city" all by himself, and was very proud of himself.

He asked her to take a photo, and email it to me, so that I could see it...! Bless him! (And all in with the technology of today, of course!)

Monday, 21 June 2010

2010 HSBC Cycle for SMARTER

Nathan, Will and John (and about 300 other cyclists!) took part in this year's HSBC charity ride yesterday. They rode 108k from Kuala Belait to Sengkurong to create awareness about autism amongst the public.
You can read The Brunei Times newspaper article here.

They had a great day, and a great ride - scroll down to read Nathan's story!

The HSCB Cycle for SMARTER - Nathan's story

"Will rocked up at the spritely hour of 0410 for a day of fun and sun. We put the bikes on the back and off we headed to JJ's to pack our bikes up and drive to KB to the start. John was there very soon after, and by then the bikes were all packed up, driver was there and were ready to go for a our planned 0445 departure. One problem, we were missing 2, Moza and Fakhrul had over slept and JJ made the call.
Jimmy drove us down to KB. Why he would volunteer a day off to drive JJ and his mates to KB in the orange bus I am not sure, but thanks. After a small delay to the schedule we were outbound.

We tried to catch up on some sleep on the way down, but it wasn't much good. Liyana had very graciously made us some cheese and tomato sandwiches that morning. Wah hey! Thank you Liyana.

In KB we rushed to unpack bikes, check tire pressures, sync cadence and HR monitors (there were a few Garmins around so things were getting a little confused) and down to the start line.

Will, John and I decided to blend nearer the front whilst JJ and his domestiques were happy to sit it out near the back. Pehin tooted the horn and led us off. We mooched out of KB and onto the highway heading up the coast to our first stop 40km away.

(John, and my shoulder..!)

It took us some time to catch up to Andy Scholar, he obviously tried to set up some early KOM (King of the Mountain) points. But we teamed up with him before our first stop and the chatting joking continued.

First stop was at Soon Lee, S. Liang, to top up the water bottles, take a bathroom break and John to be reacquainted with his old jibbing buddy from last years ride, Pehin Yahya. Funny how he remembers, "that orang putih" John!

From there the next stop was only 30km away but the sun was starting to tell. It was a beautifully clear day, but that meant the sun was out in force. Hot day.
The pace continued at a sub 25km/h very easy for anyone to maintain. Once at Taman Sungai Basong another pitstop and lunch! Well received and gladly eaten.

With bottles topped up were were ready for the next 30km to HSBC Jerudong. On the second to last "hill" of the day Andy launched an attack to secure the KOM crown. He left the pelaton standing and blistered up the hill. He was caught just after the summit, but the damage was done and Andy could now relax with the KOM crown firmly in his pocket. Good effort mountain man!

After a period Will and I had curiously noted that the marshals at the front were inclined to go faster up the hills than they were down. This led to the poor souls behind us having to break at the bottom of the hill then use extra effort to get up them again.

Once at Jerudong HSBC there was some last minute top ups and we collected the kids and 8km challengers. The last 8km was a bit spread out, but the marshals and police did a fantastic job of keeping all the children and other riders safe. The traffic was very calm and I thank all the traffic we met from KB to HSBC Sengkurong for the patience and considerate driving. Thank you.

We didn't collect any prizes, but we had completed our 108km. It was a very long day in the sun, but it was fantastic to be out with 400+ other cyclists in Brunei all the way from KB to BSB. A little cloud cover might have aided but it was better than the constant rain that hung over BSB the day before. (I now have tan lines on the end of my fingers from where my cycling gloves stop!)

After the prize giving we had to return to JJs about 8km away to collect the car and return home. JJ came whizzing past John, Will and I and told us to keep the pace up. He pulled his time at the front and then promptly fell off the back! Will got caught out waiting for JJ to slot in and missed John's wheel. JJ made an appearance once the shoes were off and bikes dismantled, but his new Giant did look very smart.

Thanks guys, had a great day. I look forward to riding with you again soon and hopefully next year HSBC might be able to organize the event as more of a timed challenge!"

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Simpang fun

Our little neighbour Oliver has now learned to walk! To celebrate that he got to come outside and play wearing shoes for the first time.
He's so lucky to have his simpang big sister Linnea to look after him and play with him!

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Hurra hurra!!! ♥

Internet is amazing.
I'm sitting here, in my jungle in Brunei on the other side of the world - watching the Swedish Royal Wedding on a LIVE feed!
It's amazing! Internet rocks.

I love being able to "take part" in this big, big event. Even though the time difference is making it all cut in to my beauty sleep, it's all worth it!
It's given me goose bumps and tears in my eyes - both the love in the air, and the home sickness..!

I managed to get it working just when they said "Yes", and I then followed the whole ceremony in the church, the parade around the capital and the fairy-tale, magical boat trip. Absolutely beautiful! Stockholm is bathing in sunshine and there's people waving flags everywhere!

The Crown Princess and her Prince are so beautiful too... *sigh*... The Crown Princess have always been very popular, and the fact that she is today marrying a man of the people makes this whole event not just extra special but also historical.
You can't help but become a little bit extra patriotic a day like this!

I wish them a long and happy marriage! ♥

Father's Day 2010

It's not Father's neither in NZ nor Sweden this weekend, but as they are celebrating it here - we are too!
Linnea had been busy in school painting and decorating a "pen holder" for Daddy which was due to be brought home on Friday. Unfortunately, she dropped it on the way to the car at pick up and it got smashed in a thousand pieces... Cue one very heartbroken daughter...

Lovely Mrs Moran lent us some of the school paints though, and the nice Mummy zoomed off to the shop to get a new plant pot; and Friday evening was spent painting the new one, at home. Happy daughter again.

We presented Daddy with his presents this morning, as he wont be here tomorrow when we wake up (he'll be out riding this race); and he got very happy!

Thursday, 17 June 2010


I convinced Nathan to come along with me to the gym this morning, to try out a SpinFit class. Yes, it's kind of like biking, but not really.
It's 55 minutes of standing up all the time, "dancing on the bike" as a friend of mine called it. Tough on anyone, even a well trained cyclist!

It was really fun to do something together for a change, as we usually go off and do our own different things when it comes to exercise. But I think Nathans text to his Dad (who is also a keen cyclist) afterward says it all:
"Just finished SpinFit class. F*** that."

Ha ha, I don't think he'll come with me again!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Summer plans - kind of...

Well actually, there are not many plans made for this summer... In fact, we are improvising quite a bit this year!
As you know, we have had issues with Nathan's leave, and still don't quite know the dates for it or if it's going to happen at all actually.
But, we do have a few dates, here we are:

8 July: School is out
11 July (hopefully, depending on which flight we'll get on): Boel & kids off to UK
15 July: Boel & kids fly Gatwick-Copenhagen and continue up to Skara
20 July: Nathan's leave start. He's off to Scandinavia?
20 August: Boel & kids go back to Brunei, via overnight in Heathrow
30 August: School start

If Nathan makes it (it all depends on how long his leave will be, which is the one thing we don't know), we hope to be able to rent a car again somewhere and drive around a bit. It was so nice last year to be able to be flexible and not rely on train times etc.
We probably will be sightseeing a bit more this year, doing our own thing, discover Sweden a bit together!
We do have some stops to make at the friends who have already said they want to see us, but sadly that list is getting shorter year by year... I guess that's the curse of being an expat...

I'm hoping for another great summer though! Can you please save some of the good weather until we get there?

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Beware of the... lizard?

The other day coming home from school run, the dogs were going crazy at me when I was coming in through the gate. Or so I thought.
Actually, they had spotted someone I hadn't seen yet, on TOP of the gate:

When I moved the gate entering, he just moved a little bit over to the side, and then just sat up there and watched. The dogs tried to get at him, but they had no chance.

Even though this was a slightly bigger lizard than the gekkos we normally have around the house, it's still pretty much an everyday thing here. They run around in the garden and we spot them quite often.

Two different animals

You would think that when you mix two people, the same result would come out every time. Like when you mix blue and yellow, it makes green. Every time.
But no. That's not how it works.

Our two kids are as different as you can be. Two totally different animals.
Whilst Linnea always has been very capable and confident and will growl "No! I can do it minself!!! (Swenglish)" if you try to offer your help; Lucas is very lazy and if someone else can do it, whatever it is i.e putting on his socks, for him, that's good.

Linnea really has ants in her pants, and can not sit still or quiet for very long. She is always busy and very fidgety, and talks non-stop.
Lucas on the other hand, is easily 'sedated' with TV, DVD or a game of PSP or Wii. He could zonk for hours if he was allowed to.

Linnea shares hugs and kisses a lot and is very loving, to everybody. Mostly to us in the family, but also to her friends (especially the babies) and to young friends she doesn't even know yet. She's like a happy puppy, full of energy.
Lucas can also give cuddles, but sparingly, and only on his conditions. He's a bit like a cat in that way.
Linnea seems to crave the closeness and comfort it means to have someone physically present within sight (and feel preferably), while Lucas is a lot more independent in that way and not at all bothered about being inside or outside by himself, as long as he knows someone is around, somewhere.

One thing they do have in common (amongst a few things) that I really love is that they are both very friendly and social, and easy-going when around other people whether they are big or small. That's a great characteristic to have!

Monday, 14 June 2010

The Cycle for Smarter

Nathan was in the newspaper today, regarding the 108k bike race he's participating in on Sunday:

You can read the whole article here.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Bad idea

The other day Misuzu and I drove down to the gym to try out another SpinFit class. We didn't think we needed to be there too much in advance, but helas, the class was full already when we got there! Bummer...
Now that we had driven all the way there, we thought let's just join whatever class is on in the main room... Well, that was a bad idea! It was BOOTCAMP!
Oh... My... God...

I'm so sore still, and it was so hard, but sooo good!
Fun..? Not really, but I'll still go back, because the body got such a work-through and in such a high tempo that you hardly had time to think about that you were actually exercising!

And, it's doing me a lot of good - even my iPhone was celebrating with me yesterday when I reached the first of my loose-weight-goals!

Our stairs

I've had a plan for a very long time to make some sort of arrangement of photos, pictures and/or paintings in our stairs. It's kind of a boring part of the house, and I've wanted to use it as a bit of a memory wall.
My problem was, I never really got a clear idea about how I wanted it; if I wanted only photos, or also paintings; if they should be only black-and-white or in colour; how they should be arranged etc etc.

In the end, two things made me change my mind; for one, we already have a bit of a photo collage going on in the guest room (of the very few guests that have been to see us here in three years...! *Hint, hint* There has only been 2 photos added since this post was written over a year ago!).
Also, I finally got a vision!
I was walking around IKEA, saw these shelves and just knew that I wanted picture ledges, where whatever was going to be on them, could be exchangeable.

So, I brought two long and two short shelves back from Singapore, surfed the net for some more inspiration, and then got Nathan to help me mount them.
We started only with the long ones, still thinking about how and if we are putting the short ones up over these too - but I think it looks rather nice already! I like being able to put 'things' there too.

Now, walking up and down the stairs, seeing some of my favourite photos, always brings a smile to my face!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Le petit Prince

Prince Wakeel, who is one of Linnea's class mates, turned 4 during the recent holidays and had his party today at the Empire Kids' Club.
It was nothing like last years big bash, instead smaller and more private and relaxed. Just like any of the kids' birthdays (with just a tad more resources, maybe! ;)), it was really intimate and enjoyable.

The Kids' Club area was beautifully set up with lots of activities for the children to take part in inside, they had the whole pool at their disposal and there was party balloons galore in every part of the club.
The kids had a blast!
They swam and played and ran around - and they quickly discovered the popcorn and candyfloss machines set up by the pool. I do believe the chocolate fountain got many visitors too!

At the other end of the lagoon, there was a lovely buffet and later on also a piñata and the birthday cakes. The little Prince had two gorgeous cakes, all in a 'Monsters Inc'-theme, they were truly amazing!

Linnea really enjoyed herself, and I got busy just chasing her around. She got so wound up that she just didn't listen, or couldn't listen, to me - there was just too much going on, she didn't know how to calm down... She gets a bit overexcited sometimes, and so was the case today.

In the end though, they were well worn out, and it was easy to extract them all from the party, say thank you and get on home. (Party bags always work a treat!)
Linnea got really lucky, for one of the things in the party bag was something she has desperately wanted us to get her lately - a camera of her own!

While you look forward to seeing some of her shots of the world here on the blog, you can enjoy a slide show from today's party:

An afternoon nap

The kids very, very rarely sleep in the day anymore. Unless we are driving very far in the car (which is near to impossible to do in Brunei where nothing is more than 35 minutes away!), they rarely do. But every now and then, some days seem to be harder to take than others.
Like today, after having asked me around 275 times since this morning if it was time to go to the party yet (it started 15.30...), she finally caved in:

An afternoon nap is gold though! For big and small!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Deep joy

Of course it wasn't going to take long, we knew that, but still this came around a bit faster than we thought: We now have TWO children who can whistle (and click their fingers), and who are doing it very happily and all the time..!
Deep joy...

Legs - ok. Butt - sore...

Yesterday Misuzu and I tried out something new, Spinning! Basically, that's indoor cycling in a class.
We had got these vouchers that gave us a free month/three free days, so we thought - why not? Let's try something new. We keep hearing from the boys how much they are enjoying their biking, but we are not to keen on going out on the road ourselves - so this was a good way of trying it out. (Plus, we don't need to buy any equipment.)

I've been considering joining this Fitness Zone gym actually, since we are no longer members of the Empire, and I've been missing going to classes and working a bit on the machines; so this month will be a good chance for me to test it out.

The class was at night, so I actually had time to put the kids to bed even before I left! A bit bizarre though to be exercising that late, but what else would you do on a Wednesday night apart from watching some crappy old show on TV...

Misuzu was beautifully colour-coordinated with her brand new indoor shoes:

I don't quite know what I had expected from this kind of class. I've heard before (Nathan's Mum does a lot of SpinFit) that it's really hard, but I was still rather surprised.
It was bl***y hard!!!

It was a beginner class, but we still had trouble keeping up! It was all about standing up all the time, twisting the body this way, doing "push-ups" that way, increasing and decreasing the tension... I gave up early, and just sat back down and pedaled away... that alone was hard work for a new beginner!
Misuzu was superwoman and nearly did all the class, well done!

Legs are ok today, butt is a bit sore though... But we're not giving up easily, we're going back for more tomorrow!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Fruit thieves

Yesterday we saw the monkeys come down really close to our house a few times. We think they are after the ripe mangoes!
Seems like they get a bit scared off by the dogs though, even though they would outsmart them easily...
I got some nice shots:

Monday, 7 June 2010

I can see you...

I have this thing called Feedjit installed on this blog, it's a widget that tells me who reads me. It also tells me how each reader arrives here, f.e if they enter directly or if they google on something that makes them end up here; and if they leave by closing their browser or clicking on any of my links or photos. It's rather interesting actually.

A lot of people google on 'life in brunei' or 'expats in brunei' - which often leads them straight to my blog; as there is not much other information out there in cyberspace on everyday life here.
But I've also have got hits on 'hate brunei' (on my post "I hate the heat"), 'cooking classes in Brunei' (so many hits on that, people must be keen on learning to cook here!) and 'starbucks in brunei' (well, there is none..!), 'pretty clothing in brunei' and quite a few hits when I've been writing about the royals, f.e the school trip to the Sultan's hangars etc.

Just in the last 24 hours, I've had visitors from the US, Australia, Polen, Sweden, Malaysia, France, Abu Dhabi, Manama, Indonesia, Belgium, Russian Federation, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Ireland, Singapore, Israel, Norway, Philippines and Denmark. Sure, I do know people in some of those countries, but it's still amazing to think about how (our) life in Brunei can interest so many people!
(I still get most hits from visitors here in Brunei though! I find that funniest of all!)

Our Good Morning tradition

We have a little bit of a simpang morning tradition going on with our neighbours. Nearly every day, when I turn the car on to get ready to go to school - our little friend Oliver comes over to say Good Morning to us, and wish the kids a good day at school:

I'm not sure who likes this the most, him or our two, but all of them really enjoy seeing each other off in the morning!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

5 more weeks

5 more weeks to go until the big summer holidays.
5 more weeks starting tomorrow, with the first of 5 more Mondays! Oh yes, we're very busy counting down!
The countdown is still just until the end of school though, as we still don't know anything about leave or no leave for Nathan. So the departure date is still up in the air, and the tickets are just getting more and more expensive by each day... *Grrrrr*...

We finished off this holiday with a swim at the pool this morning, an afternoon play date, a haircut for Nathan and Lucas and Chinese for dinner, because it had been a while. We went back to our old favourite haunt close to Rimba, where we used to live. It was yum!
Now we are all ready for school again tomorrow!

Friday, 4 June 2010

Movies & Bowling

A day off school could nearly not get any more perfect than the one we've had today!
Linnea had a sleepover at a friends house yesterday, and after we picked her up this morning we went straight for another play date. A morning of fun later, home for a quick lunch and then to the movies to see the new Shrek-movie. Parents nearly as excited as the kids!

As I've told you before, there are only on two occasions we use our long trousers and sweat shirts nowadays: when we go on an aeroplane, or when we go to the cinema!
It's always freezing in the movie theaters here, freezing. So much that just a second layer of clothing isn't always even enough. Hannah came well prepared though!

The movie was great! Laughter all around!
After the movies, we went bowling for the first time here in Brunei. Well, it was the first time ever for Linnea, and probably over 10 years since last time for me and Nathan. We can't remember ever having been bowling together before, and I only remember doing it while you kept your own scores, by pencil... so must have been a while back!
It was great fun!

The kids used this "elephant" to help them play, and they did really well! Especially Linnea, she got the best score amongst the kids - and even beat me, both rounds! (Well, that doesn't take much though... I seem to need some practise...)

I liked Lucas way of showing his nerves!