Blue sky, golden sands and glorious weather year round is what most people think of Brunei; however, this sunshine post is not all sunshine.
Brunei is a small Islamic Sultanate on the north–west coast of Borneo. As a garrison it is an isolated station in a challenging environment, but a unique and exciting one.
An assignment here provides the opportunity to work with the Gurkhas and experience their traditions, customs and celebrations. The travelling opportunities are amazing and if you are the kind of family that likes to have adventures and explore, this is the posting for you. Due to its location in the middle of Asia, places you may have only read about before will become potential holiday destinations.
British Forces Brunei is located in the south-west area of Brunei, 120 km away from the capital Bandar Seri Begawan. Though it’s a small country, a car is a necessity… and two are recommended.
Top tip: it goes dark by 6.30pm every night, and as both the children and serving soldiers have early starts, it is an early night most days.
There are no local shops within walking distance and unlike UK supermarkets, you won’t get everything you need in one shop. However, there is a large supermarket called ‘Supasave’, and when you first arrive and see UK branded goods it is a welcoming sight. You can also use Amazon pantry, which delivers.
The NAAFI here is small but has a good selection of things. All your essentials can be bought here and they have a large freezer section. At Christmas you can even pre-order your turkey and Christmas goodies!
Top tip: bring your Christmas tree with you – you can buy them here, but they cost a fortune.
Internet shopping is a must for clothes, but they do have great named shops in Miri, Malaysia, which is only a 45-minute drive across the border. Most people do internet shopping or a large shop when they visit the UK.
Brunei housing is a lot larger than in the UK and they come fully furnished – you only need to bring the things that make a house a home.
The houses don’t come with washing machines and dryers, so if you have space in your allowance, you’re advised to bring one over or buy from the local buy and sell sites. There are lots of rainy days here, so some days you just can’t dry your clothes.
Opportunities for entitled family members in Brunei are very limited. Hornbill school employs the largest number of family members, as learning support assistants.
It is a long day without a job, so the post requires a family that can keep themselves busy. There is plenty to do if you like getting out… swimming pools, gym, exercise classes, library, education centre and clubs that you can join in the camp and local area.
Top tip: the beach is not a place to sit on – it is wonderful to walk along and watch the sunrise, but you do get bitten alive by sand flies. Mosquito cream is a must or you will be scratching for weeks.
Treetops nursery covers early years childcare, and then Hornbill school from the term after your child’s third birthday. The children who live in Mumong get the bus to school, but it is an early start for Year 1 to 6 students as the bus collects them at 7am.
From Years’ 7 to 13, you have a choice of two weekly boarding schools: Jerudong International School (JIS) and International School of Brunei (ISB).
Both are wonderful schools, but please check out the holidays of each school before making your mind up as they do not always match those of Hornbill school – just something to think about if you have children in both schools as trying to organise a holiday can be a bit tricky.
Uniforms for Hornbill can be bought in the UK as standard, but JIS and ISB have bespoke uniforms, so add this to your budget.
Brunei offers plenty of activities for children, from youth club, swimming lessons, music lessons, bowling, ballet and tap and two cinemas with all the up-to-date movies.
Provision is great and there is hardly any waiting list. Despite appearances, the local hospital is efficient and does the job. We are also very fortunate to have health visitors, a midwife and physiotherapists within the primary care medical centre.
Brunei, like most places, is what you make of it. By mixing with people, making friends and joining the various clubs and facilities around the area, you can make Brunei a posting to remember.
Top tip: When out and about, it is advisable for women to cover their shoulders. Nothing is ever said, but it is just respectful.
If you would like any further information, or a copy of the latest pre-arrival information, email our Brunei Co-ordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org
There are currently around thirty Service personnel, accompanied by families, stationed away from the main Brunei Garrison on ‘Loan Service’.
Located mainly near the capital city Bandar Seri Begawan, some sixty miles to the east, Loan Service families reside in Royal Brunei Armed Forces barracks and accommodation, which is not to the same standard as the SFA in Seria.
Children attend schools in the Bandar area and arrangements for medical and dental care are also different; however, recourse to the facilities at Seria is available.
If the assignment you are considering is with the Loan Service Team, a comprehensive guide – ‘The Blue Book’ – will be provided to your soldier by their Career Manager. This document covers the terms of Service, application processes and movement procedures in detail – all of which differ from a posting to the Brunei Garrison – and should be read before applying for the job.
For further information on Loan Service, contact Esther Thomas at email@example.com