It almost seems necessary to start these chapters of my Musings from Malaysia with a sunset. This is one taken while on a river ride in Brunei. I found these last photos of Brunei hidden away on my camera and thought they were too good not to share.

Below is the photo of an idyllic-looking Island in the middle of the river in Bandar, Brunei. If you look carefully at the photo, you will see what look like bits of rubbish around the foot of the tree. Before you start thinking that some people are inconsiderate litterers, let me tell you that these packages contain the placenta of the afterbirth of the native babies born in the riverside community and adorn many of the trees on the Island which is fittingly called Placenta Island. Next door to that is one of the “bus stops” in the Kampung Ayer district. People wait here for the next shuttle to take them across the river to the city of Bandar. They are numbered

 Brunei---Placenta-Island        Brunei---riverside-bus-stop

So enough of reminiscences of Brunei. I have been in Bintulu this week – a city built for the oil industry and exceedingly well planned. There are wide roads here – mostly lined with the ubiquitous oil palms and the city is well laid out. Bintulu is a small city, with not a lot to attract the tourist.

Bintulu---washing-machineWhen I arrived I had been told that the spa baths in the Suites were very good washing machines. So this proved to be. I had a suite here – with examinations held in the living area and a separate bedroom and bathroom. Rather nice, especially as the exams here were only one morning and for the next three days I had the suite to myself.

I left my clothes in the spa bath washing for about 30 minutes and when I took them out, it was as if they had been machine washed! A twist in the large bath towel (thanks so much for that hint Kathryn! – via Mum) and they were all dry the next morning because I was able to hang them on a large contemporary styled lamp in front of the air-con unit. Great!!

So one afternoon I had some time to peruse the streets of Bintulu. I walked along the river promenade. Very nicely done, but there is the smell of oil in the air. If you are able to see the dark blotches on the river surface, I surmised that these must be splodges of oil. there were still people fishing off the rock further along. I doubt I would want to eat anything they caught though. I can see how they think that New Zealand is clean and green. There were also boats with fishermen travelling along the river. This one stopped briefly and I took a photo. Probably just as well I did not zoom in too close to see what the man at the back is doing…

Malaysia---Bintulu-river-2   Malaysia---Bintulu-fisherme

So a walk along the promenade and a view of the South China Sea and back to my hotel. The promenade is well done with paved walkways and trees, with some open grass areas as well. The grass however can be deceptive as I found when I stepped forwards onto a green grass mat to find myself mid-shins in a pool of hidden water…

 Malaysia---Bintulu-river      Malaysia---Bintulu-New-Worl

There are lots of the palm trees that seem to be the root of much of the economy of Malaysia – apart from oil of course – and a flower  that reminded me of a bottlebrush tree that used to grow outside my room in Hamilton when I was young

gMalaysia---drooping-palm        Malaysia---arrow-flower


A photo here of a memorable meal  – just as much for my own memory as anything else. This was vegetables (cooked!) in a yam basket. Simple and incredibly tasty food – like much of the food I have had here. Next dinner party! I could mention lots of memorable meals, but the steamed fish, literally covered in fresh ginger and garlic from last night was another memorable dish.

Malaysia---chicken-veges-inMy last week in Malaysia. It has indeed been a fascinating and enjoyable time! Food and people are lovely and while it is quite advanced technologically, it also has a sense of old fashioned times with a pace of life (outside Kuala Lumpur at least!) that has a sense of casualness about it, without the inefficiency that bedevils other countries with the same casualness. If you can handle the heat, this is a lovely country.


About David Adlam

I am a conductor, composer, clarinettist and examiner for Trinity Guildhall working in Auckland, New Zealand and overseas
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