Brunei Darussalam is a tiny sultanate in the north of the island of Borneo located on the shores of the South China Sea and is surrounded by the Malayan federal states of Sabah and Sarawak. The capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is like something from an exotic fantasy.
The splendour of the mosque of Sultan Omar Ali Saiffudin is a captivating sight. This Islamic landmark is also a symbol of great wealth and was built in 1958 and was named after the father of the present sultan. Snow white Italian Carrara marble was used as building material, with granite from Shanghai. It commemorates the founder of modern Brunei.
On a classic longboat powered by outboard motor, we travel on the Brunei River and are soon surrounded by mangrove brush. Tropical thunderstorms and monsoon rain create dense vegetation and the ensuing humidity produces lush flora.
At the junction of two muddy-grey waterways of the Brunei River is an historic location, Kampung Ayer, a water village. Each building and adjoining pathway is built on posts yet there is both an electricity and drinking water supply. Plants decorate the terraces, and TV aerials are everywhere and it has a population of around thirty thousand.
Brunei is a land that has almost lost its history while moving into modern times. It is a country that has grown amazingly wealthy since its gas has hissed and its oil has spluttered from deep below the ground. Liquid gold - Allah be praised!
Sunday, May 25, 2014
It contains 99.9 percent of all the matter in our solar system and sheds hot plasma at nearly a million miles an hour. The temperature at its core is a staggering 27 million degrees Fahrenheit. It convulses, it blazes, it sings. You know it as the sun. Scientists know it as one of the most amazing physics laboratories in the universe. Now, with the help of new spacecraft and Earth-based telescopes, scientists are seeing the sun as they never have before and even recreating what happens at its very center in labs here on Earth. Their work will help us understand aspects of the sun that have puzzled scientists for decades. But more critically, it may help us predict and track solar storms that have the power to zap our power grid, shut down telecommunications, and ground global air travel for days, weeks, or even longer. Such storms have happened before—but never in the modern era of satellite communication. "Secrets of the Sun" reveals a bright new dawn in our understanding of our nearest star—one that might help keep our planet from going dark