Brunei: There and Back Again

After 3 weeks in Brunei, I do not deny that it was an eye-opener and that it has changed the way on how I see training at home.

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To start from the very beginning: everyone were moody on the plane to Brunei. Worse still there was a bout of turbulence that scattered food and drink around. It was unnerving as the plane dropped like a stone. We reached BSB in the morning.

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We took a bus to the Muara District Police Navy HQ for the ‘fast’ craft, similar to the Penguins of Tekong–3hrs gone.

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Bangar, Temburong is a sleepy town, but we had to take another bus to camp proper. It is after Kg. Negaling Unat, more specifically after Spg. 878. What struck me was the steep terrain, but the cookhouse food was heavenly.

We crossed Batu Apoi and proceeded to Jungle Village, accessible by foot only through torturous upslopes and slippery downslopes, plus a ladder climb which I barely made it. 3 days were spent there before we walked back again. I could not take it halfway and collapsed, and my friend had to carry my fieldpack. 3 day navigation was up next around the Bokok mukim. If you have realised, there was no breathing space for everyone to rest.

I fucked things up spectacularly during navex. The first day we walked for 6 hours to find the 1st checkpoint. We harboured for the night set up a big fire to dry our stuff. However, I wasn’t bargaining for what happened the next day.

The journey from Blur to Test was the worst ever. I had to slide down a hill as it was too slippery with nothing to hold on to. Climbing up another hill was all the more ardous as my feet could not hold on to anything. It was discouraging and I didn’t want to carry on. In the end, I had to use someone as a log to hoist myself up. At that point the over-riding thought was to fall out of this shit. I got my wish at Test where I requested to fall out due to back pain. I was told off angrily, but I knew that I couldn’t carry on–that was how fucked up I was feeling.Basically, I was told to sit out until the end of the exercise.

Due to my injury I was excused for two days and told to join the second mission for the last exercise. it was tiring but we pulled through. The next day we had survival training, where we learnt about traps, shelters and how to kill animals. This was a moment where I killed a bird with my bare hands. The feeling of life beating in your hands, only to be cut short by a twist and jerk, but the warmth and twitches remain. It was a horrible feeling but quail was tasteless. Rabbit was much better though.

R&R was a lot more mundane. We visited the Royal Regalia, which showcased everything about the royal family and the extravagance of their clothing, floats etc to the point it became a tad disgusting. There was the shopping centre simply called The Mall and it resembled J8, except that here was nothing worth buying. Mockingjay Part 1 was showing, and it turned out almost everyone in the battalion was in the cinema. We went to Jalan Aman camp for everything out before trooping off to the airport.

I have seen enough of Brunei and its land and was happy that once is enough. Another odd thing I noticed was that the camp plays ‘Stop Crying Your Heart Out’ by Oasis on repeat every morning for some reason. Good riddance to this place, although I will miss the morning mist and the abundance of old vehicles there–this place seems to be stuck in a time warp.

It amazes me how I can think of scenarios to carry out what I don’t want to do. The battle between good and bad rages on and I feel like a pawn. I can lose myself easier than I thought: clearly, man’s resolve is only as strong as he thinks himself to be. It is a terrible feeling to cave into sin, pray for forgiveness and rinse and repeat. Prayer becomes a mere ritual, babbling the same words in a different manner. This is certainly not what the Lord desires! Should I stop confessing since He knows? Sincerity is gone anyway.

Before I set off for the mountains/land/waters of Brunei, I’ll round up what I have done. Walking 32km for the CSB was a brainless decision: plagued with abrasions and blisters was a horrible feeling, but I’m glad I won’t have to do this again. There was a day where we did ridgeline fighting in the day and staircase climb at night: this sucked but it was better than doing them consecutively. A 16km tactical march which I thought to be useless saw us walking from PLC to LCK, through cemeteries at the unearthly hour of 1am. It wasn’t that creepy as there were people around but I half expected a ghost to appear far off. What struck me the most was this smell of rotting bodies (?) in certain areas. It was surprisingly cold as the sun rose- I could see fog from my breath.

To be honest, I’m dreading and excited for this trip [typical feeling most people will face, no?]. What I’m not looking forward is the training, especially the navigation. Too many things for me to do anyway. The only consolation is that it will pass and before we know it, I’m back.