The beauty of culture is that it is never static, but rather constantly forming and ever evolving. The richness of a nation can be reflected through its traditional customs, and yet its current lifestyle can only be seen through the new culture the youths are bringing in. In Brunei, the younger generations are bringing in a new wave of culture that is starting to take root in the Bruneian lifestyle- from the ever growing creative industry, to the fitness culture and the spread of a café culture.
The café hoppers
When Bruneians come to Korea, one thing that amazes us is how numerous the cafes are. With the numbers of cafes set up in Seoul, one would assume that the coffee industry in Korea would be heavily saturated, and yet many of the cafes in Seoul are still able to retain its own character and style. In Brunei, there are still more room for the café industry to fill, and the growth of hip and trendy cafes is still new in Brunei, as most Bruneians prefer to go to the more traditional Indian or Chinese restaurants to get a cup of Teh Tarik and Roti Kuning (handmade toast with margarine and Kaya). One of the most recent café set up is the Nerdee café, a café where you can play the old school board games while sipping drinks served from test tube and beakers. Not only that, for the shopaholics, there are also café’s where you can shop in a boutique while waiting for your food. Furthermore, while waiting for class in the Hagwon (yes we have that too here in Brunei), one can chill at the Library café.
The fitness beasts
Perhaps another major difference between Brunei and Korea would be in its ‘walking culture’. The first time I came to Korea, to me, the subway stairs seemed never ending and that I had walked the most in my life. As the weather is hot and wet throughout the year, Brunei Darussalam experiences either very prickly hot weather; or extremely heavy rains with thunderstorms, which deters most of us from walking. Thus we prefer the usage of vehicles, instead of spending time walking. However, in recent years, the government has increased its efforts to spread awareness of living a healthy lifestyle, with increased events such as walkathons and boot camps. Nowadays, it can be seen that sports like heavy weight lifting, boxing or calisthenics are now on the rise, even amongst women. Moreover, Brunei’s very first and currently the only sports apparel produced by a local, has been created, also by a woman.
Furthermore, while delicious and cheap food such as the $1 Nasi Katok (which is a Bruneian favorite), which is not quite healthy to be eaten every day, is widespread; there is also a rise in awareness of healthy eating. A restaurant, the Energy Kitchen, is particularly set up below a gym, so that people would stop going to get that burger after an hour of gym time!
In the words of albert Einstein:
“I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking”.
Creativity is the foundation of innovation, and in a realization to this, the Brunei humble local creative scene has dig their way up to the surface slowly. One of the major driving force of this emergence of creative scene is a group called The Collective Art events, whose creative journey has expanded from holding small pop-up festivals in a small room (by festival, I mean booths featuring the people in our hidden creative industry and a showcase of art installations); to organizing big outdoor festivals in Brunei’s only theme park, Jerudong park. A festival day usually showcases local talents creating handmade materials such as jewelries, upcycled books, homemade drinks and food; while the entire area are being decorated by art installations such as handmade Sakura trees or map of Brunei. Just like the saying “Many beautiful things do not seek for attention”, such scene may be unknown to visitors to Brunei. Thus, if you are in town on a weekend, do check out if one of the festivals and you’ll see Brunei from a different light.
Brunei may not have streets thronged by tourist or filled with loud music, or entertainment places to keep our youngsters entertained; but if you are ever in Brunei for the weekend and want to feel the local lifestyle, check out these new cultures and savor the slow life. After all, despite the new wave of culture that is coming, there is one thing a true Bruneian would live by:
“Slow down and enjoy every day. Life goes by, way too fast.” (Anonymous)
By Nur Atiqah Raduan, ASEAN Correspondent from Brunei Darussalam