If you were on Borneo Island, Malaysia, and had the opportunity to visit another country, just a 35 minute flight away, would you?
Of course you would, and I jumped at the chance, especially when the entire 48 hour trip was set up for me to meet with the friendly locals from start to finish (thanks Dino).
And I got to be there for their 29th National Day, when everyone dresses up and celebrates their independence with the Sultan.
He just happens to be the 29th Sultan too. And if you think you’re busy, he’s busier.
I found out he’s not just the Sultan but also the King, Prime Minister, Supreme Commander of the armed forces, Chancellor of UBD and Minister of Finance and I think some other things.
Episode 9: The land of unexpected treasures and Instagram Entrepreneurs
So I put together a special video to show you around. Watch it now and go on to read all about Brunei and the Instagram entrepreneurs.
Oh and it contains a brand new intro – huge thanks to Danny at Rad Sales Video who I highly recommend you contact if you want one done.
Why Brunei Is Worth A Visit
It’s a landlocked country on the island of Borneo, with a past time of eating and socializing.
If you like either of those you’re in luck, oh and Instagram. Almost everyone it seems is on Instagram.
With a population of around 380,000 and 70% Muslim you certainly get your dose of the 3Ms here – monkeys, mosques and museums.
In my naivety I really thought it had a strong Arab influence, turns out it doesn’t. They do however use Rumi -Arabic translation of how the words are pronounced, for every single English sign.
If you’re not eating or socializing I highly recommend going on a river trip to see monkeys, crocodiles and people who live in water villages.
It’s super reasonable, and a great 2 hour trip to see Brunei from the water… and of course eat more food.
Key Brunei Facts I found out
- No income tax
- No alcohol
- No clubbing (not really)
- Free education
- Amazing Food
Some other unique facts (don’t quote me on these)
The average salary for government employee’s who are degree educated is $2,600 Brunei dollars per month. That’s USD $2086.
Most people do seem to work for the government, or themselves. And they work Saturdays but not Friday or Sunday – which is prayer day.
In fact the Sultan recently imposed a decision to have all businesses shut up shop between midday and 2pm on a Friday so people can pray.
This means if you want to check into a hotel around then you may have to wait. Or if you’re hungry then you’re out of luck. If you’re an owner of a restaurant you’re now losing a ton of money on one of your most popular days.
But no one argues about this as that would mean they’d have to speak up against the main guy who provides them with free education and no income tax and all those other benefits….
Did I mention they love food?
My entire trip was based around pretty incredible food. I was super lucky to have Thanis Lim, the unofficial official food ambassador for Brunei, take me on a tour of some of the best places to eat, from food markets to restaurants.
Seriously check out his blog `The Food Addictions of Cookie Monster‘ for amazing photos to feast your eyes on.
Instagram Stars And Social Media Mavens
So here’s the lesson that I learned, 70% of people in Brunei are heavy Internet users and as a result they are ALL over social media.
The holy grail seems to be Instagram. No kidding. It’s amazing how many people are on it, and more importantly doing business through it.
So when they’re not busy eating, they’re taking photos of what they’re eating and sharing them on Social Media. Honestly watch my video for proof.
While I was there I got to witness something of an Instragram phenomenon. A group of 5 ladies have been getting together to do monthly bake sales of their goods, entirely driven by Instagram.
They post photos of what they’re making and the date and time of the event and hundreds show up.
On the weekend I was there I go to witness Sweet As Sara sell 600 cupcakes in 2hrs 22 mins – oh and they were delicious.
This was the first time she had done the group effort with the other ladies and over 200 people were in line.
In fact Thanis Lim was not the only Cookie Monster as these cupcakes, brownies, cookies and `Wing It Chicken’ flew out the door.
Blogging And Social Media Superstars
I felt pretty priveleged to hang with many movers and shakers in the social media world while I was in Brunei.
This included the Number One blogger Rano Adidas (who’s responsible for those four photos above).
He’s more popular than their national newspaper, radio stations and other sources of news and information combined.
In fact his blog is THE Social Media site people go to for the latest and hottest events, trends, updates and news, with 5,000 visitors a day!
After 10 years of blogging daily he now makes multiple six figures through advertising and sponsorship, and is that influential that when he posts, people listen,
In fact he was kind enough to tag me in an Instagram photo after meeting me, and it had 100 likes within an hour and I’d picked up 60 new followers – unbelievable.
Plus before we event got to meet, we both made the National Newspaper in an article on National Day. Here’s proof!
So now you know a little more about the unexpected treasures you’ll find in Brunei, you should consider going. Otherwise I highly recommend you check out Instagram to keep up with it all.
Tell me in the comments below what you liked and learned from this video (and whether you like the new intro).