Here is an essay I wrote in year 8F in high school, when I was 14. Which makes it 1985. I am currently planning a trip back to Malaysia for my 40th birthday in 2011 which has me looking at guidebooks on the area I spent three years of my childhood in.
"MY IDEAL ENVIRONMENT"
The environment I am about to write about is an environment I have lived in. I have lived in many environments but I find that none of them are as beautiful, fun and memorable as the tropical rainforests.
Those that I am talking of are the ones of Borneo, in Brunei. To live there is like a dream. It is my ideal environment.
Lets imagine a stroll through the jungle. Picture in your mind rich, green trees, clear streams, friendly Iban natives who still live in their ancient ways, and a smell of the jungle that is enough to recognise from the city.
The city is actually a large community or small town. It involves a few blocks of shops, hundreds of flashy cars, a market place.
The market place is no Rodeo Drive of Hollywood, I guarantee. It is a two story building with no glass in the windows and no proper doors. There are stray cats and dogs everywhere. There is insufficient light and lots of water on the ground. It may sound terrible but it is quite and experience!
If you are an 'expat' (white person from overseas), you usually live in a comfortable home with your own maid who lives downstairs or next door. For about $400 a month she will babysit, cook, clean, do your laundry.
There are clubs with swimming pools, golf courses, theatres, dining lounges, playgrounds, beaches, sporting activities, summer holiday activities, bars and restaurants all together.
In the centre of the capital city (Bandar Seri Begawan) is a beautiful mosque with a gold dome roof. As well as one of the richest palaces in the world belonging to the richest man in the world. The Sultan (King). He owns the richest land in the world (Brunei) which happens to be my ideal environment.
Here's a photograph of the entrance to Niah Caves, some of the biggest in the world and a spectacular sight. Have you ever heard of the famous 'Bird's Nest Soup?" Here is where they get the bird's nests.
Notice the beautiful rainforest in the background.
In the midst of the beautiful jungles are crystal clear, icy waterfalls which are very, very beautiful.
One of the favourite pastimes is the K.B. River. Many people enjoy boat rides upstream to the thick jungles. I and most people, liked to water ski on it. You have to be very brave as there are large crocodiles, sea snakes and jellyfish in it. Here is a photograph of my mother while she is skiing on the great river.
The sunsets in Brunei are supposed to be the most beautiful in the world. I have seen and believed.
Brunei is a very dirty country as well as a very beautiful country. Like I said it's a dream and my ideal environment.
A Malay woman. In many parts of the Jungle, the natives have become more civilised, receiving electricity, western food and other products eg. the bicycle in the background.
In the background, a beautiful mosque, belonging to the Sultan of Brunei. To him this place is old and old fashioned. His new palace is priceless..
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Obviously things have changed since then, including my parochial views and privileged position in society, but one thing remains, my fondness for that period in my life. I was 9-12 years old, and it was the last years before my parent's divorce, and the weather was nice. Most of these photos are by my mum.