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Religion is crucial in the Culture of Brunei - OrganicIsBeautiful

Never Miss to Visit Brunei!

To Go To Brunei or Not?

Brunei
Brunei

Visiting Asia as Brunei usually takes people to the bigger stops like Malaysia, Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul. The electric sounds and blazing neon of these metropolises can blind you to a tiny treasure nestled by Malaysia and the South China Sea. The Sultanate of Brunei is a nation often untouched by tourists, despite the wonders in store for them. Brunei is a stunning country that world travelers should take their time to savor, for the richness of Brunei is just not in gas and petroleum, it’s in the culture and the natural beauty of the land.

Here are some things to consider when pondering to go or not to go to Brunei:

Public Transport in Brunei and Lack Thereof

Probably the biggest thing that most travelers fret over is how they’re going to get from Point A to B.

In Brunei you are limited to a bus or taxi. There are a few tourist horror stories about not being able to find an adequate means of transport and having to walk for hours to get to their destination. Supposedly, taxis are around the capital and the airport but nowhere in between. If you do find one, prepare your wallet for annihilation. Prices for taxis are rather hefty (a 15 minute ride might cost you around 25 BND).

The public bus looks like they drove straight from the 1960s, albeit services are fairly cheap (1-3 BND) depending on where you’re headed. However, if you’re on a tight schedule, you might find yourself ripping up your itinerary into itty-bitty bits. The public buses have no inkling as to what “timetable” means. Therefore, most Bruneians won’t use these infamous purple buses. Six bus routes in daily operation around the area of Bandar Seri Begawan, and they’re supposedly color-coated as of 2013 (but as of 2016 a lot of purple buses remain):

  1. Northern Line – Green
  2. Southern Line – Silver gray
  3. Eastern Line – Royal blue
  4. Western Line – Magenta
  5. Central Line – Brown
  6. Circle Line – Cyan

The Brunei government is really trying to expand on the public transportation sector, but as of right now, there’s yet to be any true improvements. Brunei

“Budget” Accommodations

Since Brunei isn’t exactly a tourist hotspot, you can find some pretty decent deals on hotels right in Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB). For example, with 500-600 USD, you can stay in a 3-star hotel or hostel for about 8 days. Unfortunately, these vacancies get eaten up quickly. Kampong Jerudong, another location in Brunei, as decent rates, but with the public transportation conundrum, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth the extra distance for a cheap place to sleep.

One note a fellow traveler made was that if you don’t arrange your room prior to arriving in Brunei, you might be the victim of price gouging. That is, what looks decent online might be raised to an exorbitant amount in person. Be smart. Book in advance.

Where Are Those Attractions Again?

Again, Brunei is by no means a resort town. There’s not much to do—and so you don’t have to deal with crowds. Fortunately, most attractions and museums are free. The golden mosques and hotels are stunning, but that’s about it.

Brunei isn’t very modern, so don’t expect miraculous examples of architecture and flashing lights. If you are imaginative and can make your own tours just by exploring, then Brunei might be for you. Consider this: A large portion of Brunei is built on a network of over-the-water stilt villages like Kampong Ayer. Not many people get the chance to experience something like that. It’s not exactly romantic like Venice, but a walk across the docks is humbling and eye-opening. Brunei is one of the richest countries in the world thanks to oil, yet the way of life is low-key and relaxed. You might even stumble upon an open market like Tamu Kianggeh. A rainbow of boats and umbrellas line the docks as people peddle their fruits and vegetables.

For those who love being outdoors, they won’t only find a unique journey in town, they can find it in the Bruneian rainforest, Ulu Temburong National Park. Tranquil rivers, boundless skies and excursions galore. Aside from resort hotels, there’s also a sustainable living village, where you can choose to stay in tents and eat jungle food that you harvest yourself. Plus, who can say no to getting up close to wild crocodiles, lizards, exotic birds and monkeys?

Wildlife OrganicIsBeautiful
Wildlife OrganicIsBeautiful

Another attraction similar to the rainforest experience is a cruise along the Tutong River that focuses on mangrove ecology and how to conserve natural resources. Brunei is also a great scuba diving location. Several shipwrecks can be found in the waters, as well as pristine coral reefs. Rental gear is cheap—about 35-50 BND.

What Do You Mean By “Dry”?

Because Brunei is an Islamic nation (the mosques should have clued you into that), don’t expect there to be any nightlife. If you’re the kind of person who likes slinging back drinks with the locals and hearing stories, you probably won’t be very fond of Brunei’s dryness. There are no bars, no clubs and overnight businesses are rare.

Religion is crucial in the Culture of Brunei - OrganicIsBeautiful
Religion is crucial in the Culture of Brunei – OrganicIsBeautiful

You are, however, allowed to bring a small amount of alcohol with you. An alcohol permit at the border of Brunei must be obtained before entering the country. Cigarettes are also a slight challenge to find.

During the month of Ramadan, when devotees of Islam take on fasting, you’ll find restaurants open. However, this doesn’t mean you’re open to woofing down food and drink in front of those who haven’t eaten in several days or weeks. You will be expected to ask permission to dine in front of those individuals. In 2014, the government passed a law that states it’s fine for non-fasting people and visitors to Brunei to order take-out during Ramadan to mitigate the offense. It’s a unique cultural exchange, but if that makes you nervous, plan your trip around Ramadan.

never miss to visit brunei

So should you go to Brunei? The answer is up to you. Brunei doesn’t have the glitter and glam of some other SEA locations like Indonesia or Malaysia, but that doesn’t mean it should be crossed off the list. People who love outdoor activities, fresh air and relaxation will find themselves perfectly satisfied by this happy little country.

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Let the Monkey Year Begins – Happy CNY 2016!

Gong xi fa cai! (Or Kung hei fat choy! if you’re speaking Cantonese.) The eighth of February on year 2016 is the first day of a new year according to the Chinese calendar.

The annual celebration of Chinese New Year sees endless baked treats and other savoury delights being sold, served and consumed by Chinese communities in Malaysia throughout the 15-day festive period. Kuala Lumpur becomes an empty, shops closed, same goes with restaurants. 

The Red Envelop

There are, of course, many delicious and luxurious food to savour in utter delight. I still remember in 2014, Chinese New Year felt on a working day, we all received a red envelop from our managers with some money inside. This symbolic tradition comes with a Chinese new year gold red decoration with the writing “年年有余 (nian nian you yu)” meaning “abundance of everything every year”.

It’s all about Mandarin and Pineapples tart!

Ever wondered why the exchange of Mandarin Oranges is so important, and why there would always be pineapple tarts in each home?

Exactly eight pineapple tarts.

Mandarin Oranges are believed to bring prosperity thanks to its Cantonese pronunciation, which sounds similar to gold. It is part of Chinese New Year tradition to offer a pair of Mandarin Oranges to respected seniors and hosts during house visiting

Chinese New Year | OrganicIsBeautiful
Chinese New Year | OrganicIsBeautiful

The repetition of Chinese New Year Goodies is no random occurrence, as each snack is essentially symbolic of a meaningful purpose. The next time someone in the family asks, “Why do we always have to eat xxx during Chinese New Year?”

The Number 8.

Eight is a number favoured by the Chinese because it sounds similar to the word “wealth”. Nine and ten are also considered good numbers because they mean “infinity” and “perfection” respectively. If you closely observe Chinese paintings of koi fish, horses, deities, or dragons, there would always be eight, nine, or ten subjects in a painting.

Number 8 OrganicIsBeautiful
Number 8 | OrganicIsBeautiful

EIGHT The number 8 symbolizes good luck and wealth because the Chinese word for 8 sounds like the Chinese word for fortune or wealth.

Now, I would like to wish everyone.

新年快乐,恭喜发财!祝你一帆风顺,二龙腾飞,三羊开泰,四季平安,五福临门,六六大顺,七星高照,八方来财,九九同心,十全十美。
Happy new year, gong xi fa cai! Wish you one smooth sailing, two dragons soaring, three lambs good luck, four seasons peace, five blessings nearing, six big accomplishments, seven stars shining, eight sides prosperity, nine always together, ten perfection. (Note: The words “nine” and “infinity” sound similar; ten is a perfect number.)

Amanda,

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The Rubber Tree and its The White Gold

It was during my first jungle 50km trail marathon that I discovered my first rubber plantation

It takes about six years for a rubber tree to grow to a point where it’s economical to harvest the sap, which is called latex. The sap from the rubber trees is processed into a wide range of products around the world, although the use of synthetic rubber has resulted in a decline in the natural rubber industry.

2

Where does rubber come from?

Historically speaking, Brazil used to stand as the number one rubber tree producer. It is not the case anymore. This species was native to Brazil, northern Bolivia and eastern Peru. At one point the rubber trade brought in 40% of Brazil export revenue, all from wild trees. What about today?

Rubber is now harvested in Africa, Central and South America as well as Asia, the latter accounting for greater than 90% of the production.

South East Asia Map | Organicisbeautiful
South East Asia Map | Organicisbeautiful

In the early 20th century, the British in Malaysia and the Dutch in Indonesia cleared large areas of rainforest to create rubber plantations.

A bit of history

Indonesia

Before 1945 the former Netherlands East Indies (nowadays Indonesia) was a colony of the Netherlands. It was in 1864 that the first rubber plant was introduced in Indonesia during the Dutch Colonization.

Malaysia

Peninsular Malaysia is among the world’s most important rubber growing areas. Rubber “pokok  getah” is also grown in the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo. Together the 14 states produce almost 20%  of the world’s natural rubber

Thailand

The first rubber tree in Thailand has been planted by a Thai-Chinese investor in 1899.

Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka’s rubber industry began in 1876 with the planting of 1,919 Hevea rubber seedlings in Henarathgoda Gardens in Gampaha.
First rubber plantation in Sri Lanka
First rubber plantation in Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, smallholders account for 63 percent of the area planted in rubber tree.

Beginning in the late 1970s, free trade zones were promoted in Sri Lanka as essential to economic development, and in support of the rubber plantation industry.

What does organic mean?

Grown without chemicals, synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Organic helps retain the health of our planet and its people by: providing safe work environments for cotton field workers, eliminating the use of damaging synthetic pesticides ensuring soil fertility is maintained and improved.

Type of products?

Since teh 1950’s, as tire manufacturing becomes more automated, demand for synthetic rubber, which is highly processable and consistent, also increase.

Synthetic rubber is estimated to account for 59.8 percent of consumption and natural
rubber 40.2 percent.
There are 2 interdependent sectors:
  The plantation industry, including smallholders, which grows rubber trees and harvests latex that is converted into stable concentrates and raw rubbers.
The rubber products manufacturing industry, which converts raw rubber into value-added finished rubber goods. Some examples of goods:
  • Tyres, tubes
  • Hot water bottles
  • Auto parts
  • Industrial components
  • Gloves, condoms, balloons
  • Boots, shoe soles
  • Jar seals
  • Carpets, mattresses
Rubber Gloves | OrganicIsBeautiful
Rubber Gloves | OrganicIsBeautiful

How natural rubber is made?

All natural rubber originates in the Hevea tree, and it begins its journey when the tree is tappped. Tapped?

Tapping means

to make a cut in the bark of the rubber tree
to harvest the latex.

Latex is harvested by tapping the rubber tree in a manner that does not harm the tree. How?
The trunk of a tree is composed of different layers.
  • The bark is the outside layer that protect the tree, same as your skin protect your body from external attacks. It is about 6mm thick.
  • The cambium is the “blood” of the tree: it is the part that makes the tree grow.
  • The wood is in the center.
For a rubber tree, between the bark and the cambium exists another layer, called lactiferous vessels. This layer contain latex. Voila.
Tapping latex from a rubber tree in Thailand - Organicisbeautiful
Tapping latex from a rubber tree in Thailand.

Some facts:

  • When the cut is badly made touching the cambium, the bark closes up badly. It splits and turns brown.
  • No tapping is made during dry season. Each tree are tapped early morning on a regular and fixed-time basis.
  • After the tree no longer produces latex, it is harvested and its wood is turned into lumber

Reference

OrganicIsBeautiful SignatureGold Rubber

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