I know, I know… it’s been ages since I posted last! That’s because LOADS of stuff has happened and so this one is going to be a massive catch-up post.
Home sweet home
A few weeks ago (and a few days earlier than they said they would), the Company gave us the keys to our temporary accommodation! I had been counting down the days when we could move in as I really was tired of living the one-room lifestyle. When the Hubs presented me with a huge set of keys I literally jumped up and down. It was even more exciting as we got a riverfront place, complete with lovely views of the Sungai Belait. AND it was brand new.
A few days later, our sea freight arrived. The poor movers carried up 113 items to our flat in scorching heat. Including a gigantic fridge we had just bought from London. Oops..
And suddenly we had really moved in! Although looking around we had a LOT of unpacking to do…
Soon after, the Hubs sorted out the washing machine and after much hand-wringing, the fridge. We were really not sure that the fridge was going to fit the fridge space, and I was dreading the thought of trying to maybe sell the fridge online, get the massive fridge down the stairs, buy another small fridge and then get it upstairs again… But thankfully, it did fit, with about 1 millimeter on each side to spare. Phew!
Initially the Hubs and I discussed at length how much we should unpack as this flat is our temporary accommodation. We are supposed to be given permanent accommodation at some point but no one knows when this will be so we made the decision to make our home as homey as possible. So a few weeks in, we are pretty settled in. I think only about 20 items are still in boxes which is the result of pretty much nonstop unpacking. The Hubs even helped me set up my desk from which I’m writing this!
The Hubs tells me every time but we.have.so.much.stuff. The thing is, we don’t even have a lot of furniture. As our London flat was quite a bit smaller than this flat, our furniture looks a lot smaller than it used to. We have a lot of bits and bobs. For example, I discovered (well, I knew during the packing but I had forgotten) that I have an insane amount of tights. I have no idea why I have so much but I have a lot. So I vowed once again to get rid of a lot of my stuff. Maybe I can sell it on FB, people seem to do that a lot here. Also, I saw a thrift store somewhere so I’ll look into that…. anyway.
We did have a couple of teething problems with the flat, such as a gas leak and no hot water, but they all got fixed within a day or two. The internet people also came much earlier than they said they would so happy days! When I first went to them, they said they had run out of modems and I’d have to source one myself. Once that was sorted, they said 3 weeks for the engineer to come out. So I was glumly waiting, resigned to having to hang out in Coffee Bean for hours at a time every day to use the internet but hooray they came about 3 days I handed in my application form. 20 minutes after the engineer had stepped foot into our flat, presto, we have lift-off! I was so happy I even messaged Hubs and let him know. So next up, and really the last big thing left on the list, is the telly. We need to buy the telly and also apply for cable TV. Buying the telly is easy, but I suspect getting Astro (the cable TV service here) is going to require more perseverance as the last time we had a peak at their office there were 44 people in the queue!
When we first arrived in Brunei, the Company gave us a car and said it is on loan for a month. We said that’s fine, that sounds like plenty of time to get ourselves sorted! Here, it seems that you cannot register your license plate if you do not have a Bruneian driving license. So you can buy the car, no probs, but you can’t drive it out of the showroom… Over the last few weeks the Hubs and I picked out our cars. I was to buy a new midsize SUV and the Hubs was to buy a smaller sedan car to just drive to work in. Both cars were lined up ie my new car was already at the Kuala Belait branch, waiting for my driving license and the Hubs had agreed with a fellow expat to buy his car off him. He was also just waiting for the paperwork.
Then, the day on which the Land Transport department said that we could pick up our driving licenses arrived. This is the day before the Company car had to be returned. The Hubs and I turned up at the Land Transport department at 8am sharp, only to be told that our licenses were not ready and could we please come back in 2 or 3 days. Disaster! We already knew from other people’s horror stories that the Company for some reason was going to chase you to the ends of the earth to get their car back, and so it had to go back TODAY. We would be stranded with no car at all! And thus began my morning of frantic calling / visiting of the local car rental companies. Unhelpfully, it was very difficult to find a rental car. At one local company, I drove into their offices, there were about 30 cars parked in the car park. I went into the office and asked if I could rent one and the reply was “Sorry, we don’t have any availability til December”… I just stared at the receptionist…. couldn’t believe it! Later on in the evening, I drove past the office again and it was still full of cars…
In desperation, I contacted a friend of mine who lives in BSB but has family here and is Bruneian. She came through and introduced me to her friend who apparently has loads of cars and was willing to lend one to us for a week. Phew! We were cutting it close as he only agreed to lend us the car around 4pm.
A few days later, our licenses finally came through, and we went straight to the dealership and picked up my car.
Whilst we were going through all the moving and the car drama whatnot, most of the other paperwork came through. We got our ICs (Identity Cards), without which you cannot do much. We also got our visas and multiple-entry visas, awesome! That means we can leave the country now 😉
Watch this space for some travel posts!