Brunei's colourful National Day celebration wows tourists
By Afelda Ghani

An Australian couple on their first visit to Borneo said that they were truly touched when a young female student offered them a mini flag during the 26th National Day celebration at the Taman Hj Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien in the capital yesterday.

"It is a joy to see so many happy faces," said the merry couple, Avan and Heather Davey. "Everyone here is patriotic... there isn't a lot of that in the world today."

The National Day celebration in the heart of Bandar Seri Begawan, which is a fixed annual event, serves as a "good catalyst for tourism" in Brunei, according to Dato Paduka Awg Hj Hamdillah Haji Abd Wahab, the Deputy Minister of Industry & Primary Resources.

"(As the National Day celebration) is a fixed event every year, (tourists) can always lodge something like this in their diary," he said, adding that most tourists plan their holidays "not a day before, but a year before".

"It's amazing to see so many people here celebrating the National Day. It is so much better than we had expected," said Lizzie Kershaw and Gwyneth Yates of UK who have been in Brunei for three weeks now.

They were impressed with the sea of colour, as children and adults in colourful costumes and uniforms marched towards the Taman Hj Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien.

"It was a very new and different experience for me but I enjoyed every bit of this celebration," said Robby Reisewitz, a German tourist. "The apparels worn by those taking part in the parade were very nice."

Major Zaidi and Capt Shahrina, who hail from Kuala Lumpur noted that they liked to see how uniforms worn in Brunei are different from what Malaysian personnel wear. - Borneo Bulletin (24th February 2010)