Wednesday, 26 February 2014

24 school runs

Oh, we're already Wednesday and I totally forgot to sum up last week, which marked 2/3rds done! Man it's going far too fast now!! Only 24 more school runs to go!

We are really cramming in so much in each day and each weekend, that every week feels like two!
I can't believe it was only last week Lucas was away on his three-day school trip to Miri; and I went to the dentist and to the doctor to have another vaccination shot. Plus the busy weekend I've already written about, it was really needed to have an extra day off.

Now it's getting down to the last, very last few jobs to do. I'm kind of over it, but need to gear up I guess. Nearly there.

At the beach

Yesterday's hash was a beach run. It's was an A-B, which meant we got to walk/run nearly the whole length of the beach, before we found a bus that shipped back to the beginning.
I took my time, and walked the whole way, trying to enjoy the beach, the sea and the sunset as much as possible. I figured this was probably my last time properly down the beach here in Brunei.

We had been warned we would get a bit wet, and it sure got a bit adventurous in places where the water came up quite high, and we had to get around the cliffs getting out into the sea... = even I (being rather tall) got soaked all the way up to my waist!

Another lovely Tuesday evening at the Hash. Only two more hashes to go... :(

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

A Zumba kind of morning

I got invited to a lush breakfast this morning by some of my favourite Zumba girls.
For once when they started their marathon photo session, we didn't have glowing red faces, wet hair and sweat running down our neck!

Thank you girls, it was a lovely morning! Glad we could catch up one last time!

Monday, 24 February 2014

Looking good!

I wrote at the end of last year about the new arrival hall at Brunei International Airport. Now they have also opened parts of the new departure hall, and some flights get to check in there.
I walked through the other day in an errand, and this is how it looks, very fly:

I hope we get to check in here on our final flight out of Brunei, that would be a nice touch!

Happy 30th

Yesterday was Brunei's National Day, and they celebrated their 30th Anniversary.
The country have been buzzing with preparations for while, and many of our CFBT teacher friends have been busy doing several practices for the big parade and celebration at the Stadium that took place yesterday morning. I can't believe it's already been five years since I went to the Silver Jubilee..!

This is how it looked in the Mall the other day when we were there, all white, black and yellow!

It's been nice having an extra day off today (Brunei always takes a day off in lieu if a public holiday already falls on a Friday or a Sunday... They don't want to miss out on any, ha ha!) - since we've had a really busy weekend; we went out to the Yacht Club on Friday afternoon/evening, Lucas had a birthday party Saturday and Turners came over for their sleepover; we all went for dinner at the Saaps Saturday night, then the mud pool excursion yesterday and ending the Sunday with a movie night;  today Linnea & Ben went to a birthday party and Lucas had Nikolas over for a play.
Now, time to chill... - where's that pizza man?

Sunday, 23 February 2014

A morning at the mud volcanoes

We are having the Turner kids over for a double sleepover this weekend, and this morning we went on a bit of an adventure - to Malaysia! Ha ha, that's how we do it here, go to another country whilst looking after someone else's kids! :)

Well it's not as adventurous as it sounds, we "only" went across the border and over to Limbang, to visit the mud volcanoes in Kampung Meritam. Beenal, Sebbie and Jessie came along too for a bit of a different excursion.
I had seen photos from this place on Facebook, several of our friends have been there lately, and I really wanted to go before we left. We had sourced the directions and set off in two cars, got there without any problems.

It was quite cool, a bit like a moon landscape with quite a few mud mounds bubbling away around the place. There was two bigger craters where you could get in, and to get out you had to slide down a mud slide into a mud "river". The kids were a bit hesitant to getting in:

You didn't touch the bottom, actually you couldn't even if you tried, because it was like being weight less - you were floating! Lucas isn't sitting on anything here, he's floating:

It was a bit tricky to actually get out of the pools, cause everything around you was slippery too...

We all got properly covered in mud! After all, it's good for your skin!

After a while when everybody had had enough and we were nicely all covered in mud, it was time to go back to the changing rooms and try to get clean. 'Try' being the operative word here... Let's just say, that even after a poor shower by the mud pools, a total hose down outside when we got back and then a proper shower, certain little people still have mud in their ears...

On the way home we stopped in at Linggis for a quick lunch, and then it was back across the border again and home to chill out for the rest of the day.
What a great place, and what a great morning!

My BFF ♥

Even though I had extra kids at home, and was actually planning to take them to sushi for dinner last night, to make it easy for myself - Nicole insisted we all came down there for dinner, extra kids and all. Ok then, she didn't really need to ask twice - I needed a good chin-wag!

She had made such an effort and cooked a lamb roast, with all the trimmings... mmmmmm, delicious! And, for dessert, all in my honour - a super yummy pavlova de luxe, with peaches, strawberries and Ferrero Rocher! Omg...

Even though the house was full of kids, we managed to have a really nice evening with some lovely heart-to-hearts. Might have been the last lovely dinner together we managed to have, who knows, time is running away from me...

I'm so lucky though to made some of the best of friends here in Brunei.
I will miss especially Nicole terribly, but I know we will meet again.
Because we will make it happen.
Over and over again.
Because we will. ♥

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Safe and sound

Lucas is back safe and sound from his three day school trip. It was a very quiet crowd that came off the bus this afternoon after a long trip back from Miri... they were all knackered!
The rest of the afternoon he has been on the sofa, and it was lights out just before 7pm!

They seemed to have had a packed schedule, and he talked the most about the flying fox, the repelling, the food and the water park. I'm sure we'll be treated to some photos from school that I can share with you on a later date.

For now it's good to have him home again.

Girls Night

So with Lucas on a school trip it was just Linnea and I for dinner yesterday (Tuesday she had invited Gemma down for pancakes, since I was at the Hash). We had a lovely time, just the two of us, with some nice food and very civilized conversation. After dinner Rhoda helped her prepare a little surprise treat for us, as it was "Girls Night":

I came down to freshly baked chocolate muffins and some wine even!
What a lovely way to end a day!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Yeah baby!

Mama's got some new wheels coming!

Nathan's order of business today was to order my new car. After careful deliberation, he chose to get me (no, I'm not getting involved in car choices...) a Toyota Sequoia.
It's the largest SUV in the Toyota line-up, basically two sizes bigger than my current car (a Toyota Fortuner) - so it's absolutely ginormous! But, if you are going to live in the Middle East, you need a big car!

It's super roomy inside, and it seats 8 people, with the third-row seats folding completely flat into the floor when not in use. The front seats are called "Captains Chairs", I like it..!
Otherwise I wasn't really listening much when Nathan told me about all the specs... All I know is I couldn't get my chosen 'Sandy Beach' exterior; he had to go with 'Silver Metallic', together with a grey interior. I'm really not bothered, I guess silver looks fine too.

If anybody wants to know more about the Sequoia, look here, or here on the local UAE Toyota page.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

CNY celebrations at the Hash

Tonight we celebrated Chinese New Year on the hash. After a short run around the kampong, we congregated at one of the Chinese ladies' house for quite an on-on. It was decorated beautifully of course, all in red and gold.
Many of the hashers were also dressed in red, or in traditional Chinese Cheong Sam. We also saw some spectacular head gear:

The Chinese ladies always puts on an amazing evening for their CNY celebrations. This year as entertainment, we even got treated to a Lion Dance! Complete with music, orange peeling and all!

Of course we also had the Yusheng, and we tossed and tossed for good luck and fortune for all hashers for the year ahead!

After some games, and red Ang Paos for all hashers (!), we proceeded to enjoy a lovely Chinese buffet. Mmm - such a good night!

A coffee novelty

The rumours had been around for quite a while but it wasn't until a couple of weeks ago they really started flying, when a Starbucks sign came up outside the Mabohai Shopping Center. Was it true? Were we really going to get a Starbucks, here in Brunei?!

Yes, it was, and on Sunday the newest hangout in town opened it's doors - jippie-yay!

I was there this morning, before I did my grocery shopping (it's located on top of "Monkey-SupaSave"), and apparently 8.30 in the morning is the time to go. I had no issues with parking, nor queuing in Starbucks itself.

Apart from the fact that parking is going to be even harder to find now, with both Toys R'Us, SupaSave AND Starbucks in the same place (and there wasn't even enough parking with just the supermarket) - it was really lovely! Nicely decorated, super friendly - and eager - staff, and... good coffee.!

I have been writing about Starbucks in Brunei, or rather, the lack of - before. Actually, for a very long time, that was one of my most googled posts.
Unfortunately they didn't have any of the classic Starbucks cups, with 'Brunei' on them. Apparently they sold out on the first day! :) I hope they will get some in before I go as I'd really like one!
They only had these Brunei thermo cups, which were nice, but not what I was after:

Y5 school trip to Miri

I had a very excited boy this morning, with no trouble getting out of bed whatsoever! Reason being, today was the day his year group was going off on a 3 day/2 night school trip to Miri in Malaysia - staying at the Borneo Tropical Rainforest Resort.

We packed his bag together yesterday, carefully ticking off each item needed and making sure it was all there. They needed a little bit of everything, they are going on a night walk tonight, through the jungle; they are doing some team building exercises tomorrow, with obstacle courses, rapelling and rifer rafting amongst other things; and they might even be going to a water park.

I went to the information meeting before Christmas, and we saw a little movie from last years' Y5 trip to the same place. It looked absolutely amazing, I'm sure they will have a fabulous time and lots and lots of fun.

I'm sure Lucas and his friends will have a blast!

It was all very exciting getting on the bus. A few children had a few tears when it was time to say goodbye. For some of them this will be their very first time spending overnights away from their parents. Lucas did give me some really big hugs too, got on the bus, then got off again to give me another one... But I'm sure he will enjoy himself immensely, and I'm so glad he got to do this trip with his friends, before we leave.

And off they went! I'm sure they stopped waiving long before us parents did..! :)

Monday, 17 February 2014

Abu Dhabi adventures

I flew up to Abu Dhabi late Wednesday night on the RBA flight out of here. Going through Brunei airport it was full of buckets, because it was raining (as it is often in the evenings!) and the roof apparently leaks, quite a bit. Mind my surprise though when I arrived to the Dubai airport, and it was also full of buckets..! It was 15 degrees, and RAINING there too when I landed! Very unusual.

A pre-ordered limo driver picked me up, and it took exactly 1 hour to get to Nathan's hotel, from the Dubai airport. Super convenient, easy and not very expensive either. Great solution for in the future, if guests arrive in the middle of the night.

Thursday morning we woke up to grey skies and wet surroundings. I didn't mind, it was nice to be able to wear a cardigan and a scarf. The view from Nathan's hotel room is rather lovely, over the golf course and the sea.

We had quite a few jobs on our list of to-dos for these few days.
We started out by picking up a hire car, then set out to look at a few houses, and drive around the different areas to get a good feel for the place.
We also went to sort out Nathan's uniform, pick up his "Alcoholic License" (yes, that's what it's called!) and visit the bottle shop. Nice!

We also visited a few schools and hopefully (cross fingers!), we've found spaces for both the kids in an American school! There is space for Linnea only in one of our preferred schools, so we were debating for a while whether to put her in that one, and hope for Lucas to get a space there too next school year.
But in the end we've decided to have them move and go into a new school together. It feels better to have them both start a new at the same school, for their sake.

In the afternoon we drove downtown to see the Corniche and to scout out the big Marina Mall. Very impressive. A quick walk around there, sorting out a few shopping musts, and then back for an early night at the hotel.

The following day the view from the balcony was a bit more sunny and bright. You can see Ferrari World and the Yas Marina circuit in the distance:

We had a day of IKEA ahead of us! Yay!
We spend quite a few hours there, looking at different things, discussing different options. As we've sold everything here, we need everything again! IKEA is a good place to start, to get the basic things. I joined the IKEA family club and we had a 'fika' of course.

After few more house visits after IKEA, we were ready for another mall. I still needed to find a couple of specific things. And check out where we had a quick snack! At the Swedish burger joint Max (previously existing only in Sweden, Norway and Denmark) is now established also in the UAE, with 6 restaurants in Dubai and 2 in Abu Dhabi - how cool!

On the Saturday we saw more houses, from 10am to 4pm, with a quick lunch break down in the marina by Al Bandar Marina. So gorgeous!

I was getting picked up at 2.30am for my flight back to Brunei, out of Dubai again, so in the afternoon I had a quick nap - and then it was steak night at the hotel. I had the best steak I've had since... since I don't even remember! It was SO good!
It was served on a hot stone. I haven't had it served like that since the many excursion dinners at the French "Lava stone restaurant" in Fuerteventura, where I used to be a tour guide back in the day.

We ended our evening toasting to having decided on and paid the deposit on a house!
But more on that in another post!