Saturday, 14th October 2017
Saturday night’s Official Opening of the Sungai Kebun Bridge, Decorated Floats and Boats Procession and Fireworks Display in conjunction with the ongoing Golden Jubilee celebration for His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei truly ended with a bang.
While a majority of those who intended to watch the procession and fireworks were going on about the traffic congestion from as early as 4pm around Bandar and its surrounding areas, my family was excited to decorate Dad’s boat which we were taking to Kampong Ayer. We didn’t intend to be part of the procession; just showing our fervor for the night’s program. It was a smart decision too – as we didn’t have to leave the house until about 7pm and got what I would consider the best seat in the house.
The manifest was made up of 10 passengers on Dad’s smaller Rezeki boat, which we drove to Kg. Burung Lepas, a maximum 15 minutes’ drive away from home. It was a bit unnerving having to load all 10 adults in the dark back streams of the country, but it made the trip all the more exciting. The river was pitch black so the pressure was on me to ehem… light the way. I was at the bow (front of the boat) illuminating our direction as much as the torch I was holding would allow. My brother at the center of the boat was directing Dad who was captaining the ship from the stern (back of the boat). Everyone else remained relatively subdued, holding in their nervousness about being on a motor boat in the dark, streams away from our final destination.
I could feel the manifest come to life again from the initial dead silence the second we saw lights from Kampung Ujong Tamoi in the distance. We must’ve ridden in silence for a good 45 minutes. It was a major relief to know that the plan didn’t go to waste, as we pretty much had to rely on GPS to direct the ship and the torch in hand to make sure we didn’t miss a turn or drive into land.
To make it to the part of Kampong Ayer facing Yayasan Mall in Bandar, we had to pass by the decorated floats that were lining up at the start. In other words, we got a solid preview of what was to come and it all hit us how big the whole thing was. Though it was too dark to see what was on land from the water, we could make out the thousands of spectators lining up end to end on the Bandar waterfront and up to (near) the bridge. Scores of people were also crowded around the jetties on the Kampong Ayer side – be it at the houses, schools or museums. We spent the rest of our time hanging around, passing other boats, eating and drinking and moving around to get closer to whatever moving action there was on water.
There were a total of 28 decorated boats and 10 decorated floats making up the river procession. The initial few passed by us from behind so Dad cut across to get the more appropriate view. We were pretty much just metres away from the passing. I was fascinated with the work put into most of the floats and more so the numbers of boats or yachts hanging around that breathe life into Kampong Ayer that night.
When the fireworks started, we were so overwhelmed with excitement, though the smoke clouds forming around the display got to us a bit. Still, Dad navigated closer and closer to the bridge to a point that the vibrations from the fireworks created some waves and rocked our boat a bit. My Mom and Aunts were a bit worried but remained calm seeing that we were unfazed by it otherwise. The fireworks display was enchanting and kept everyone photographing or filming the whole way through, with shouts and screams echoing from people everywhere.
I look to the distance where a formal delegation of guests, senior government officials and royalty were gathered at Tarindak, the best spot to be on land for a piece of the action. But I hardly envied them. I felt so free and lucky to be spending the night with my loved ones via my favourite mode of transport. It made me miss diving, but of course no one in the right mind would jump into the Brunei River to swim (they’re croc-infested).
In total, we were on the boat for a maximum of 3 hours. I heard Bandar was already packed by 4pm with cars having to park or remain stationery in their spot until traffic cleared by about midnight. I heard some also gave up. Those who were watching from home of course had the comforts of their sofas but nothing compares to being at the heart of the action.
We were home by 11pm with great memories of the whole journey through and our bellies filled thanks to the picnic the women prepared for the passengers.
|Estimated Time of Departure:||7.00pm|
|Estimated Time of Arrival (Kampong Ayer):||7.45pm|
|Passengers Count:||10 people|
|Visibility:||Up close and rockin’|