One thing that needed to be dealt with before the rally finally split up was the petanque contest. Now you see some time ago off Tioman Island an international was held and the kiwis, us that is, Tom and I off Matariki, kicked butt. The aussie contingent found some lame excuse to call that null and void and decided a rematch was to be held, while Tom is away. Now I won’t bring up underarm, but what can you say. The Aussie official, self-appointed seemed a little biased perhaps. Still holding all titles what can one do. Well done Sal. With new team member Marlene, we still came a credible second though.
Left Miri, with the seahorse guarding the way, and had a great sail up the coast to Kaula Lait, (I think) Brunei.
Brunei is a small independent state like Singapore. Very like singers actually with their currency interchangeable, and very wealthy thanks to oil in Brunei’s case. Still sinking wells up the coast. Amazing operation. They take this barge/ship thing out and then jack it up on stilts and away they go. Some time later the cash register is ringing again.
Now I haven’t taken you through the process of checking in and Brunei was a good example. First, find were to go. Fortunately others have been before and you usually have some idea of the location of the various offices. Here, like singers, they have set up a one stop shop which is great. Then any one of many options may be run into. Here, first people in uniform we met said “Go to customs first.” Gave them the clearance from the last country, OK that was easy. Next immigration. No sir, go to port authority first. OK, up the stairs. No they say go to immigration first. Down the stairs to immigration. Now this office has about six people all sitting around doing not much. “Oh, they said that ? OK, fill out this form, plus crew list, plus cargo manifest”. But we don’t have cargo, Oh,ummmm. Fill out this form then. Now go to port authority and get them to sign this then come back. OK up the stairs, can you sign this please. Sorry that man is out at the moment, tell immigration we will sign it later. Back down the stairs. Oh, OK, umm……..OK they fill out the rest of their bits, in triplicate of course, then, back up stairs. Man is back, signs, back to immigration, yep they’re happy. Now take all this back to port authority. OK. Sorry the man is not here and I can’t find him ?? Waiting, waiting…… he comes back takes his copy of the paperwork and just two short hours from walking in we walk out (Backchat and I) and find a well-deserved coffee. Now they aren’t all this bad, but pretty similar. Paper shufflers rule and all consider their bit vital. God save us from bureaucrats !!
So here I am in Brunei for a couple of days so I can get another three months on the passport when I go back to Malaysia, just a short boat trip to Labuan Island about 10 miles away. Heath is back home visiting her sick mum. Anchored off the yacht club, which is very welcoming with showers, washing machine and a good restaurant. They had a club picnic on Saturday which we got invited to.
Mostly ex-pats working here and it is like their social club. Happened to arrive when Brunei was having their big dragon boat festival, right beside us so we have had a great vantage point.
Serious stuff here with about 15 boats in each race and at the end, they have an all in covering about a mile. Hard work. They also had small speed boat contests and water taxi races etc etc. Big party on the beach, loads of food stalls and fireworks on the Saturday night. As I said, got my passport stamped and off to Labuan today, another duty free port so time to stock up the booze cabinet again. Can’t work out why, but Malaysia has three duty free islands, Langkawi, Tioman and Labuan. Maybe they had a raffle and these islands won?? It sure is a big money spinner for them. Till next time