Brunei Darussalam


Those of you who followed my Valentine’s Day posts for the past two years may be disappointed to find that there is no follow-up, no long running campaign confessing my love other than immortalizing the dried out roses. Just because there isn’t a blog post doesn’t mean there isn’t a gift or roses. In fact, instead of Ferrero Rocher chocs I chose an item that my wife and I consider more meaningful and symbolic of the gesture. We took the opportunity to celebrate Valentine’s Day with my son Jamie’s birthday so he called the shots as to where we were going to have dinner—Excapade Sushi in Kuala Belait. Just last year when he turned 10 I remembered and subsequently posted what he said about not liking cakes and rather unsurprisingly, he said the same thing this year. Guest what, he hasn’t aged !

But let me tell you, if KB had ever really been a ‘ghost town’ (as some people might have you believe) for any period of time, it would be because they’re all cramming inside Excapade! So, the day after Valentine’s Day is coincidentally, a weekend, that Sunday where most people go hmmm, what are we going to do today? So happened I didn’t have specific plans except spending time with the kids but I did sorta assemble impromptu outing with a few friends who are new to SLR photography and have found themselves continually sliding off the learning curve ! A very typical local culture to kick things off is a meeting at a coffee shop. In our case, we congregated at Soi Hing. I borrowed Gavin’s first lens after he bought my EOS 5D—the 50mm f/1.4 a lens that tried on for the very first time on my 5DII and I was blown away by it’s sharpness (in spite of it being generally known for being “soft” at f/1.4).

The sugar bottle was intentionally tipped over as I had wanted to see how close I could get my EF 100mm Macro lens but interestingly a lump rolled out giving me a rather interesting picture (diabetics may disagree—no offence intended).

One of the reasons I chose an outing in the evening is to avoid the harsh sunlight. Timing couldn’t have been more perfect when we reached the Oil and Gas Discovery Centre (OGDC). The place was packed with joggers, skateboarders, basketballers, strollers, swingers (haha, I mean kids on swings) and not forgetting four adults with SLRs and long lenses (some longer than the others) exciting the soccer players somewhat. As there were lots of moments where the soccer ball was in high spirits so were moments of panning opportunity.

It’s one thing to be excited about taking pictures it’s quite another to have a soccer ball land squarely on your face! Luckily these two were fortunate not to have their faces smashed by a flying ball considering the ball once landed on a jogger’s car with an audible bang. As a professional, safety and opportunity carry equal weighting but accidents do happen (some of you may recall the incident where my EOS 20D fell into the river because the rocks were slippery).

Jeffrey, the guy with glasses and Nikon D300, recently attended a Nikon introduction workshop. Workshops can be educational depending on whether the way it’s conducted suits your learning style or not. I cannot stand classrooms nor can I learn in the confines of one. But that’s just me. I would be happy to conduct a full day personal one-to-one (max of 3) workshops on a weekend as I’ve demonstrated here. I can also see that Jeffrey has learnt and understood more in a three hour session than a whole day session with 3 instructors.

If there was one thing worth remembering from yesterday it would be that beautiful moments can last only a few minutes (if you’re lucky). It’s also very common to get caught up in one thing and then completely ignoring what may be more interesting developments than soccer.

Right above us were very interesting cloud formations that allowed the evening sunset to pierce through resulting in breathtaking rays of light that lasted just a few minutes.

From panning to freezing fast action sports to silhouettes. Rather than trying to explain one, I volunteered as model posing with my favourite lens the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS to the sky and had Alan Chai take this shot. I believe Gavin and Jeffrey took a number of shots too but I have not seen them to determine the outcome of their attempt.

Welcome to The Blue Lagoon. No, there isn’t anything remotely erotic about the lagoon except exotic  mossie and sandfly (love) bites and that pictures tend to be bluish in the evenings. This is evident even in video recording. From OGDC, we drove to a spot in Panaga where the egrets are known to roost. An outing I was involved last year brought me to this spot when the Panaga Natural History Society organised a Seria Wetlands Outing with the Brunei Nature Society.

To conclude, I think it’s only fair that I give Alan a short mention having introduced Gavin a number of times earlier and Jeffrey (my regular badminton singles partner whose reason for losing is a knee injury 😛 ) Now, Alan is nothing short of an interesting character. He’s the only person I know to have owned a dozen digital cameras in a very short time but not have the patience to use them properly. His recent trapping is the EOS 5D Mark II which he chose over the significantly cheaper 50D—whatever his justification it’s high time he took photography seriously having already squandered so much! This is clearly a case of loving to spend with passion.

[see comment]


  1. A packed Excapade is expected. Buccaneer was also packed and we were turned away because we got no reservation – in KB?! Imagine that 😀


  2. stunning photos again!!! Jan, the sugar bottle one is superb. The one with your favourite len is also special…, the sky is amazingly beautiful. Could you also arrange an outing for me if I have a chance visit Brunei??…or only given that I have my own 小小白 😛


  3. Either 小白 (EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L USM) or 小小白 (EF 70-200mm f/4L USM) are commonly known for HK people and Taiwanese to distinguishing these 2 lenses.

    The one you suggested me to buy is “小小白” IS. Yes, the sibilings of L series. I think I am getting it soon.


  4. It always takes ages for the photos to load from here but its always worth it. What a fantastic way to spend your Sunday. I liked the photos of the photographers best 🙂

    I should learn how to take better photos (yeah right!). I’m really lamenting the fact that I will soon forget the memories of my adventures here in Palembang and the pictures I have will be unable to conjure up the spirit of the place.


  5. It has come to my attention that some readers find the statement I made about Alan to be harsh and offensive. While I value these opinions because they really matter to me, I value Alan’s opinion more and the one and only reason I acted (intentionally) out of character was a wake-up call (as a last resort) that he so badly needs. More importantly Alan recognizes a personal issue with compulsive and impulsive camera-shopping (no, not shopping for Prada or LV bags—ladies, you wish!)

    He said this morning (Feb 20th), “i think that’s the only way to save me.”

    Those of you who thought “squandered” was an inappropriate choice of word, consider its meaning by the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, “waste in a reckless or foolish manner.” How utterly appropriate, I think, in retrospect!


  6. If you are referring to the last paragraph statement about Alan, that is nothing but a pure intention to see Alan improve in his Photography.

    I have made worst statement to Alan and he understood the statement as to why we made it in the first place. It would be great to see Alan improve in his Photography (and not switch mode to camera shopping).


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