Brunei Darussalam


The RAT is said to be forthright, disciplined, systematic, meticulous, charismatic, hardworking, industrious, charming, eloquent, sociable, shrewd and can be manipulative, cruel, dictatorial, rigid, selfish, obstinate and the list goes on according to various sources on the web and if you allow yourself to immerse in the depth of the Chinese Zodiac, you could, erm .. drown! But that’s not the right way to start a new year and celebrate the first animal of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. I, however, am not a rat but a Rooster who is about to be thrown into the new RAT RACE of 2008, in roughly 26 hours from when I began writing this post.

The entire month of January had been unnaturally productive. January, the first month of the year was a calendar filled with a mixed bag of new and interesting photography assignments (blog posts in Archive). Rolling over to February, the momentum from January isn’t easing off but steadily picking up pace. 2008 has so far seen David and I working on more than one assignments including an on-going one where we scouted for places of interests within the Belait district.

© Jan Shim Photography

A week prior to meeting David, I spent half a day with an associate at various locations in Kuala Belait and Seria for a videoshoot. I photographed him at work with his Sony HDV and liked how this photo from my 5D and 70-200mm f/2.8 lens turned out—reminds me of an ad right out of a Sony brochure. Now that you’ve seen the equipment, the photograph below at the Billionth Barrel Monument is less intriguing but the composition may still be interesting.

© Jan Shim Photography

By now, the long hours, the heat, the late nights have taken a toll on this sleep-deprived body and I’m making things really difficult for the antibiotics to do their job properly. Right after lunch, I was completely knackered. Getting up after a short nap, I drove into the sunset of Panaga and found this great landmark where water from a thunderstorm the night before set this scene.

© Jan Shim Photography

If there’s one thing we see a lot in the oil town it’s the nodding donkey and we have so many of them at various locations in Seria that we take them for granted. If I had to name one feature of our town to a visitor, it’d have to be the egrets. These birds seem to have developed a fascination for the nodding donkeys and at a particular hotspot in Seria, there’s a couple of hundred perched on the fences and guard rails. Perched that is until their radar picked up an unwelcomed visitor.

© Jan Shim Photography

Another pespective of the same photograph in a more compelling rendition tweaked in B/W can be viewed here.

On Sunday 3rd Feb, the week was almost coming to an end yet the day was packed with work and personal programme. I had my alarm set to go off as early as 4.45 am to leave the house by 5.30 am so I would reach Empire Golf & Country Club by 6.30 am in time to setup for a group photo of the BEDB 3rd Invitational Golf Tournament 2008 that consisted of 70 players with a commitment to deliver 80 8 x 12-inch prints by 11.30 am. Client rang at 11.29 to check my whereabouts and I was just walking up the stairs with the prints in hand.

© Jan Shim Photography

Between the time I had taken the group photograph, completed post processing on the laptop and the time I was able to submit the digital file to my lab, I made two pitstops, the first one at The ARCH in Kiarong and the second at the morning market for a photo of The Mall in Gadong.

The ARCH © Jan Shim Photography

The Mall © Jan Shim Photography

Once the golf prints were dropped off, I headed home in Seria, took a shower, grabbed lunch and headed to Kuala Belait to check out the massive Motoring Carnival, the main attraction being the Hummer H2 and glaring examples of some of bikes showcased.

© Jan Shim Photography

To finish the week off, David joined me and my family for dinner at Kaizen Sushi in Seria after he’d just finished a Nikah wedding ceremony in Kuala Belait. As a professional photographer who shoots RAW and swears by it wholeheartedly, there was sheer irony that at Kaizen, we ordered Raw Beef, “Half-cooked” Beef, Salmon Sahimi and Seaweed. They were all great but cannot help feeling all that indulgence has a price to pay and comes with a penalty as warned by my Zodiac forecast among other things to be wary of.

Health is good but do not over indulge in food. Take note of food hygiene and avoid eating uncooked food. (Pg 23 of Geomancy Hut 2008 zodiac PDF)

© Jan Shim Photography

Right after dinner, we proceeded to check out the beautifully lit mosque in the administrative town of the Belait district, Kuala Belait. What the human eye doesn’t see, the camera is able to produce a gorgeous reflection with a 30 seconds exposure. The night was still young, there were people fishing off the bridge where we at. I don’t know how they fared but I got more than what I bargained. By the time we finished and got home, it was past midnight and we had set an alarm to get up at 5.30 AM on the following Monday morning where we went out separate ways.

I reached the Kiulap Branch of Baiduri Bank around 9 am and got acquainted with the staff who were already there registering the names of 16 lucky winners including myself. The morning sun quickly rose and was becoming hot and unconfortable for those already sitted in the tent. To cut a long story short, I made it to Top 3 and it was the most nerve wrecking moments after coming in 2nd at the Simpur Blogging Nation Photo Blog contest. Presented with three envelopes, one of which contained the winning number to a Toyota Vios, the other a Philips 38″ LCD and a two door SAMSUNG fridge. By now, many had read today’s papers and saw my photo in the Borneo Bulletin with the other winners.

Many thanks to Mr Pierre Imhof and Mr Ti Eng Hui of BAIDURI Bank for the wonderful fridge. We had intendedto get a freezer for the kitchen and we won a whole fridge just three days before Chinese New Year. Whether Santa Claus came late or the auspicious lunar new year came early either way it’s all good and COOL! 🙂 Phew, what a race these past weeks have been!

Other races in recent memory


  1. Beautiful photos as usual! I always thought uncooked food was better for you than cooked food, since all the nutrients are retained… instead of partially lost in the cooking process.


  2. Great pictures ! Love the angle on The Arch.

    Wishing you a Happy and Prosperous New Year, Jan and Family ! 😀

    And congrats on winning the fridge, saw your pic in the Bulletin.


  3. It’s the second day of Chinese New Year celebrations and I’ve just found the time to relax (10.30 pm) and catch up on my blog. It helps to have an internet-capable mobile phone so I can at least download my emails where blog comments are downloaded so I always read them, just don’t time to reply them when I’m on the road. I like to take my time when I reply so it’s not all rushed writing for the sake of writing.

    @ Matt
    Honestly, uncooked or cooked food, I don’t know what to think or believe anymore. It seems the more educated and informed we are, there’s more controversy and debate over where is and what isn’t and what may be there . What I have learnt is not to tempt fate and argue with the crystal ball. If information is power then foresight is super power! Despite being forewarned, I believe moderation is key here and I interpret this as a warning to not over-indulge as there is now a choice of two Japanese restaurants.

    @ Zul
    Thanks Zul. The fridge was useful and it was delivered on the eve of Chinese New Year, a very timely event as we had run out of room to store the extra drinks and food for our first open house. Though I was one envelope away from winning the Toyota VIOS or a Philips 38″ LCD, I think I got more than what we asked for … having recently been contemplating about getting a meat freezer, we got a whole fridge. Neither the car nor the LCD would have offered any value to the household. In terms of financial gains, the car was the obvious winner but we do not really need another car. But I’d love a Lexus to take the pain off my commutes and I know my client would be happy to have me own one too. And it would be just a matter of time before the pain of the monthly loan hit me no amount of cupping therapy is going to fix :).

    @ Colin Quek
    Busy is good. Busy keeps you on your toes. Busy keeps you young but make sure you’re fighting your own fires not someone else’s. I know the IT business very well, busy does not necessarily translate to productivity and you are usually fighting other people’s fires which may not even translate to team success but still it keeps the race going with the help of coffee!

    @ David Cheok
    Will the tables turned in 2008? Clients in the Brunei capital account for 98% of my total work and I’ve been, like Lexus, relentlessly pursuing a career in commuting (13 years in IT) and fast approaching 5 in photography I think. Maybe 2008 it’s your turn to see more of the nodding donkeys, have a go at archery and other not-yet-discovered allures of the Belait district.

    @ Mr O
    Thank you Mr O although I like my coffee with condensed milk :). I’m happy that you find my work inspiring and I hope nobody (except David Cheok) has to put up with the silly and often insanely late hours and sleep deprivation that has become so routine now in our commitment to meet deadlines. Believe it or not, I am only discovering the fun and therapeutic side of photography and I highly recommend anyone to take this art up as a means to balance the stress from one’s day job. Even when I use the same tools for work, it’s different when I am out for a leisure shoot.


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