MALAYSIA celebrated its 54th Merdeka 0n 31st August 2011. Coincidentally the sighting of the moon for Syawal 1432H fell at the same date, meaning it was a double celebration for Malaysians.
To us who once saw service as teachers in Brunei a half century ago, it was an occasion with tints of nostalgia for when Ramadan came it was time for us to leave for homes in the Semenanjung for a month long annual leave.One of our terms of service was a fully paid annual leave for Ramadan and Aidilfitri.It included a night stop in Singapore, only seeing us continuing on the flight the following day. The Malayan Airways which flew the the twin propeller 'Dakota' did not fly direct. No there was no direct flight as now. A flight that took only two hours now between Kuala Lumpur and Bandar Seri Begawan ( Bandar Brunei) would reached its destination after ten flying hours not counting the night stop either way.Neither was there a direct flight between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. The journey saw the plane halting at Malacca, Kuala, Lumpur, Ipoh, Penang. Alor Setar and Kota Bharu on its normal schedule before returning on the same route in the evening. Similarly the flight from Brunei saw halting at Sibu and Kuching before reaching Singapore.Earlier it originated from Jesselton in North Borneo ( Sabah). That was the luxury of flying then and we complained of delay and other uncertainties now even with all the comforts and luxuries added. At Singapore we had the feel of the old hotels such as Adelphi, Raffles, Cathay, Singapore or the Peninsula and thrown in with shopping at the entrepot city no doubt with some of the stipends saved while in Brunei.
Only after celebrating Aidilfitri with the families would we make the return journey to Brunei. It was all in that fortunate circumstances when Brunei saw it right to have the long school vacation break in the month of Ramadan contrary to what was practiced in Malaya then. However now its the end of the year choice for all.
Now after fifty plus years, an occasion to visit Brunei as a group with friends including those who had served there before, especially coming after the Aidilfitri celebration would indeed be a memorable home coming of a different kind but surely deep with nostalgia and memories. Trust with the organization of such a visit, I managed to get twenty persons to make that visit come through. So on the 27th of September 2011 we saw the group taking off from LCCT, KLIA at 6.45 in the morning for Bandar Seri Begawan. Two hours and fifteen minutes later we were already across the South China Sea and in the comforts of friends who had waited for our arrival.
When you see and feel the success of such a visit, whatever hiccups or shortcomings there were evaporated into thin air. Much has to be told and the story will continue.Suffice it was a throw back into time for the meantime.
Two senior friends who remained in Brunei after their terms of service were there to welcome us. Dato Hj Abdul Jalil Abdul Rahman and Hj Mustapha Shawal. The writer noting what to say at the welcome 'brunch'
|Hj Maawiah Hj Abdullah is another member who found Brunei hard to resist and therefore remained behind. He is here with Harris Dato Jaafar.|
A much welcome member of our group - Dato Baharuddin Marji and Datin. The most senior member in the group and respectfully our lecturer at Kirkby College Liverpool. We are happy to have both of them and they are especially welcomed by our friends in Brunei as they too knew Dato and wife since 1956.
Thankful to our hosts in Brunei for all the arrangement and especially the convenience of a bus
A delicious brunch was served here. Notice the signage. One that has remained in Brunei since we were there fifty plus years ago. Jawi scripts are a must for all commercial signage.
Another monument that has stood the test of time. It remained where it was built.
Dato Baharuddin looking at some photographs of his former students when they were at Kirkby College. In batik Hj Rawi Abdul Rahman of Kota Bharu who was also a member of the Kirkby teachers who saw action in Brunei in the 1960s. We were at lunch hosted by Dato Suni Idris, the only Brunei student who was together with us at Kirkby. Dato Suni served as an ambassador for Brunei in several countries before retirement.
Dato Suni Idris and his lecturer. They met again since 1958. Yes the visit was especial since as I have said a home coming or a 'balikkampong' extra ordinary.
Some of the lady members in the group that make the tour to Brunei. For many of them it was their first visit.
Of course 'Kampong Ayer' is a must visit in our itinerary . It is still there but with many improvements and a delightful place to be included in the tour.
A golden opportunity. Coincidence or a matter of stepping out correctly?. We were guests at the Malaysian High Commission Malaysia Day Celebration and the opportunity to have this photograph taken together with the High Commissioner and the Minister of Education Brunei who we learned was one of our students at SOAS College Brunei in the 1960's.
On arrival at Berakas Airport and welcomed by friends. Second from left Pehin (Col) Ariffin one of my Brunei Rugby players was there too. Meeting the old friends again was the highlights of our visit.
Sixteen members of the visiting delegation. Four others must be around the shopping arcade just a few steps away from the 'Centrepoint' Hotel where we stayed.