Today is Brunei's 27th National Day - a celebration of the country's independence from Britain in 1984. Brunei was never a British colony, but was a 'protectorate', and despite its independence, still maintains relatively close links with the UK today (hence the 'Loan Service' arrangement with the UK Armed Forces). I can't help pondering the fact that Brunei, as an independent country, is younger than me...!?!
Bruneians are massively patriotic, which I like. I often wish that English people were more vociferously proud of their country and heritage, instead of equating flag-flying with football! Still, we're guilty of not flying the George Cross either - which seems a little strange seeing that we're currently flying the Bruneian flag:
I'm more than happy to do it... although it wasn't really a choice! We were told that we must fly it between the 6th and 26th of this month in celebration of National Day. We'll be flying it again in July, for the Sultan's birthday. I must say, the base does look great, with flags flying from every house and street-light.
Of course the main impact of today on us expats is that it's a Public Holiday. Yay for February - we've had FOUR holidays this month (2 for Chinese New Year, 1 for the Prophet Muhammed's Birthday last week, and 1 today). It almost makes up for the lack of a half-term break!
This morning there was a huge parade in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei. We were all set to head down there, despite the early start - it began at 7.30am - and as the roads were all closed we were intending to drive down as far as we could (probably to Tasek Lama) and cycle in from there. However, we woke at 6am to torrential rain. Usually rain showers pass quickly, but this one seemed to go on and on, well past the time that we would have had to leave to get to the parade on time. Of course it had stopped by about 9, but by then it was too late. Disappointing; but there's always next year. We'll make a big effort to go then.
In the meantime there are some great photos on the National Day website to show us what we missed.
Happy Birthday Brunei!