Sunday, 25 September 2011

A Weekend of Meeting Important People!

Over 3 weeks after Ramadan ended, and the celebratory month of Hari Raya Aidilfitri continues - these Bruneians sure know how to party!  Last year we had only just arrived in Brunei when Hari Raya was upon us, so we went to relatively few Open Houses, but this year we know lots more people and have therefore had lots more invites to various Open House parties.  It's such a nice tradition.

This weekend we had 2 particularly important ones... 

On Friday night we went to an Open House at the Officers' Mess on Bolkiah Camp.  This was hosted by the female officers who 'live in' at the mess.  It was spectacularly decorated with thousands of fairy lights, and the food was superb - stalls outside serving lamb, satay, kebabs, murtabak, etc, and a selection of curries and sweets inside.  Of course everyone was excited about the special guest, the Sultan himself, who attended with one of his sons.  Here they are, chatting with the hostesses:

After they had done this, the Sultan was invited to sign the guest-book for the evening...  which just happened to be right next to where I was standing!

After this he stood up and started doing the rounds of the room, shaking hands and chatting with the other guests.  He came straight up to the group that I was standing with...  it's amazing how tongue-tied one can suddenly become when the Sultan of Brunei is shaking your hand!!  Thankfully my friends picked up the conversation so I didn't feel too daft.  Now this all happened rather fast, and Rob had wandered off to chat to someone else, so of course he missed the opportunity to take a photo of me and His Majesty.  I was quite cross as I'm always the one who takes photos of other people with the Sultan and no one ever gets a shot of ME (case in point, here's one of Rob on Friday night:)

So just as the Sultan was finishing greeting people, I thrust my camera at Rob and rejoined the hand-shaking line... 

Rob redeemed himself - Success!!  I'm laughing because the Sultan shook my hand then looked at me and said "You again!" - and then did exactly the same to the girl next to me who had also lined up for a second hand-shake!  We told him he had a good memory, and he laughed.  I don't think I've ever had the opportunity to meet one of the British Royal Family face-to-face, but the Royals are much more accessible here in Brunei.  It's a much much smaller country of course, but they are very 'visible', often seen driving around (complete with hoards of motorcycle outriders), and attending public events.

On Saturday we attended another Open House that I was no less excited about - Maya's!  I first met my fellow Brunei food-blogger Maya a couple of weeks ago when she invited me to an Open House at her parents', but this was at her own house.  I was so pleased that Rob could meet Maya, and of course for us both to meet her lovely family (so welcoming!), and of course we were very excited to see her famous new RED kitchen - fabulous, lah?   (NB, 'lah' is the Bruneian equivalent of the Canadian 'eh'!  I'm such a cultural chameleon...!)

Oops, we appear to have adopted our signature 'kawai' pose again!

The food was - need I say it? - fantastic.  Maya's mother-in-law had cooked the savoury dishes which included Soto (a local chicken noodle broth with lots of condiments) and satay.

Rob helping himself to the Soto.

 The desserts were Maya's creations - strawberry-topped chocolate cupcake, mini cheesecakes and tiramisu.  *Yum*

Another sociable and food-filled Brunei weekend!


Anonymous said...

Two great evenings and all that gawjus food and fab photos.

spcookiequeen said...

Maya sent me to meet you, anyone she thinks that much of I knew had to be great. Now I'm a little jealous though, I'd have loved to be in on that celebration. Nice to find you Kate.

snowy said...

Wow, what great experiences, and a photo with the Sultan too.
Lovely food and fab photos. x

Foodiva said...

To be in the same post as HM....I'm profoundly honored, Kate! It's almost like making the front page of the Borneo Bulletin or The Brunei Times, LOL.

So happy you guys came to the house, and Rob is as lovely as you are! (although I shouldn't sound so surprised, that must be the reason why he's so liked here). Anyway, I hope your parents had a blast on their visit. My old, old friend from middle school who now lives in Scotland was here as well this week so I was busy playing as tour guide ;-).

My good blogger friend, Gina was also here, I noticed. You should go check out her blog, she's incredibly talented in the kitchen and very funny. Well, we should catch up soon!