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Brunei, fishermen on the beach

Fisherman on the beach, just before dawn. See Google Panoramio for location.

Fishermen drag a 50 m net through the shallow water, tied to vertical sticks. Their catch on this haul is a few small fish. They only have one plastic bucket to store them.


I was doing my evening run on the beach, 7 or 10 km, slow or fast. The beach is ideal for running, a 50-100 m wide flood line, solid wet sand. Still the running feels heavy, the wet sand is soft, also by the tropical temperature (28 Celsius) and 100% humidity. The strong head wind cools off and feels good, just slow down the pace. Going back, with the wind, is easier and you run faster but you also overheat. After a run I needed to wait 15 minutes before taking a shower, like after taking a sauna.

It rains every night, mainly after 7 PM when it gets dark. I got heavy rain once for 10 minutes during an evening run. It lowers the temperature, which is nice, but the big rain drops and the high wind make the rain slam into your face.

After the run I go to the 35 m pool at the recreational centre on the campus to cool down and relax the muscles in the warm pool.

Oil pump near the beach.

Next to the beach are the oil pumps of the Seria oil field, the first oil field in Brunei, discovered in the 1920's. It is still producing after a peak of 110,000 bbl per day in the 60s, and is now doing around ... per day. Each pump will do a minimum of 50-100 barrels a day, I estimate.

With only 200,000 people, Brunei is a rich country. They produce a barrel per person per day, or $80 pure profit at current oil prices. Saudi Arabia does 0.5 barrels a day per person and Nigeria only 0.02 or about $1.60 a day Explains why oil does not bring an increased standard of living in Nigeria so much talked about. Income is still on average $1-2 a day.

Oil is black gold for Brunei, and it shows. People are well educated, also the policemen and drivers, and there is a large middle class living in villas each with several cars. You can still see some of the old wooden houses but they are quickly ddisapearing, replaced by modern villas and apartment buildings. Like in Oman, the sultan does take care of his people.

Brunei is a very quiet place. The locals, especially the women, tell me. A tropical paradise, and these are always quiet by definition.

Oil pump maintenance tower in front of the apartment building.

My apartment on the campus for these two weeks has a view at an oil pump. I was a bit bothered by the airco noise but not the oil pump which is almost silent. Tiny ants came into the house, fleeing for the puddles of water on the grass outside. I also see a spiders and even a small lizard in the open corridor. Lizards are known to be able to get into the hosue. Despite the airco, there are a few biting bugs in the house, occasionally a mosquito and something else that causes a little itch. A slap stops it. Could also be sweat spot or just imagination.

The last two nights there was a radical change in my tropical paradise.

I got a bad cramp in the calf of my left leg while swimming in the pool after a run and this prevented my evening runs on the beach in the second week.

A big maintenance crew decided to take the pump in front of my apartment apart at night time, using a 30 meter crane. Ear plugs we get on the plane, cut out the noise and I did have a reasonable sleep during the last two nights. Still, you do not sleep comfortably, as the ears start to hurt after a few hours.

Standard of living comes at a price. Also in a luxurious tropical paradise.

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