Brunei is a tiny country. If you were motivated you could probably walk right across it. And as you might suspect, there’s not a whole lot for a traveler to do in Brunei. So why did we stop there? Well, crossing Brunei is the easiest way to get from the Malaysian Borneo state of Sabah to the Malaysian Borneo state of Sarawak. And if you’re going to cross, you might as well stop and see what there is to see, right? That’s the way we see things.
So what is there to do? Well, in the conservative Muslim but rather friendly nation of Brunei, we pondered the trappings of wealth at the Royal Regalia Museum, respectfully reflected at the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, peeked around the floating neighborhood of Kampung Ayer, took a hike to a waterfall, and snacked on some excellent satay.
And oh yeah, Jeff ate noodles. In fact, he ate three packages of Mee Goreng (fried noodles) in a span of just over three minutes. And while that’s fast, it wasn’t fast enough. Someone else managed to eat the same amount of noodles in a span of three minutes and a few less seconds. You see, Jeff’s idea of a good time in Brunei is entering a noodle eating contest, which was held as part of some great big Ramadan sale and festival. The contest was held after dark, of course, so as not to interfere with fasting.
The contest involved two sessions, with Jeff being the only non-local entered into either. His entry brought plenty of smiles from the locals, and he even had his own cheering session yelling “Go USA” as he shoveled noodles into his mouth. Entering the contest, Jeff didn’t think he stood a chance, but as the clock ticked toward the three minute mark, it was down to Jeff and a fellow competitor. They had a few forkfuls of noodles left on their plate, as well as a glass of tea that they had to slam down as the finale, while everyone else had mounds. I suspect that more than a few people entered the contest not to win, but to get a free dinner.
Though there were a few short seconds in the contest where it looked close, in the end Jeff fell to someone with a bit more practice eating noodles. Oh well, we would have missed the finals, scheduled for September 5, anyways, and I’m not sure what we would have done with the grand prize of hundreds of packages of noodles. The free dinner, free t-shirt, and new friends we made was prize enough. Maybe a few more eating contests is just what the world needs. It’s not too often that you see conservative Muslims chanting “Go USA. Go USA.”