Lance Thoo

5 things you should know about Thai cave rescue mission (Poni Divers explain)

David Beckham posted this heartfelt message calling the Thai boys “heroes”. He also thanked all those who risked their lives rescuing them. According to him, it was “such a positive, uplifting story.” (Photo courtesy @davidbeckham)

After spending OVER TWO WEEKS trapped in a cave in northern Thailand, all 12 youths of a football team, whose ages range from 11 to 16, and their coach have been rescued.

Narongsak Osatanaskorn, the former Thai governor who led the rescue, made the official announcement at 10.45pm (Brunei time, July 10), after a tense few days of rescue missions. “I never imagined this could happen – but we did it. We completed Mission Impossible,” he was quoted as saying in an online news report.

Sadly, there was one casualty – a former Thai Navy SEAL who died after entering the cave to lay oxygen tanks along the exit route. Saman Gunan (alternatively spelled Kunan) has been remembered by his family and people around the world as a true hero.

Complex rescue mission

(Source: The Sun Graphics)

On July 4 (last Wednesday), The Sun Graphics uploaded the infographics (above) onto its Twitter feed detailing the THREE possible rescue options:

(1) Diving – fitting them with full-faced masks and carefully pulling them out one by one.

(2) Draining – pumping water out of the caves enough to allow the boys to wade or float our with life vests.

(3) Waiting – leaving them there with supplies for months until the rains subside.

Poni Divers’ thoughts on rescue mission

Wong Thye Sing, the founder of Poni Divers, Brunei’s largest dive centre and only watersports centre in the country, with Anna Aziz, the Business Development Director of Poni Divers (Photo: Lance Thoo)

“We’ve been following the story about the rescue mission intently. We are so pleased that the operation went well,” said Anna Aziz, the Business Development Director of Poni Divers, Brunei’s largest dive centre and only watersports centre in the country.

On July 11, the ‘Neue’ team sat down for an interview with Wong Thye Sing, the founder of Poni Divers, to hear his thoughts about the ‘miraculous’ rescue mission in Thailand.

The following answers are his response to our questions:

Question 1: What’s it like to dive inside a cave like the one in Thailand?

File photo shows a girl in Cenote Suytun at Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico (Photo: Shutterstock)

That particular cave in Thailand is not really a cave where people would normally go cave diving.

One of the top locations for cave diving in the world is in the ‘cenotes’ in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico (see photo above). The water is still, there is barely any current, it’s freshwater, and you can see over 50 metres ahead of you. The water is still because it comes from rainwater that has seeped through limestone slowly and has been filtered naturally.

This particular cave is a seasonal cave, so it’s made up of water from monsoon rain flooding through in a few months of the year, so its quite dirty with sediments and silt and it is zero visibility. There is strong current and the water is cold. So nobody would be dive in waters like this except for in specific rescue or recovery situations.

It would be like diving in the dark at night where you can’t see your own hand in front of your face and you would be moving by feel of touch, so it is hazardous and dangerous with sharp rocks and potential entanglement hazards. It is also physically exhausting to have to swim against the current.

Question 2: What can go wrong during such a rescue operation?

Rescue workers move scuba tanks through the cave system (Photo: Royal Thai Navy)

Many things can go wrong:

(1) More rain can come and more unexpected water causing stronger currents.

(2) Divers have to plan according to the amount of time they have underwater which is limited to how much they exert underwater swimming against the current, how much air is in the tank, and how much nitrogen their body would absorb from the air. Many of these variables can change depending on weather & water conditions.

(3) Parts of the cave could collapse, lines could break, equipment could fail, the air in the bigger cave camp bases could become hypoxic (low oxygen levels).

(4) People can panic and do very irrational things, and plans can go terribly wrong.

(5) Rescue teams could miscommunicate or coordinate wrongly or there may be too many teams not working together. There were over 90 on the dive rescue team, 40 local and 50 overseas with many more hundreds of volunteers assisting with carrying and food and so on. So it was a BIG operation, but from the photo coverage of their base camp, the area actually looked surprisingly well organised.

Question 3: What kind of measures or procedures are taken when oxygen is low during a cave dive?

This question hasn’t been very clear in media and can mean something very different to divers and non-divers.

The media keeps referring to “oxygen tanks”. However, scuba diving is commonly done on air tanks.

The air in the scuba tank is normally just compressed air.

What’s compressed air?

Compressed air is normal breathing air that is 21% oxygen, and 79% nitrogen.

What’s Nitrox?

A tank with a higher level of oxygen, a 32% or 36% oxygen mix, is often used for scuba diving as well, and is called Nitrox or enriched air and allows us to spend longer time at depth.

How about an emergency kit?

Divers can also have an oxygen tank that is part of the diver emergency kit. This is normally medical grade 100% oxygen that can be used as treatment in case of a diver emergency.

Technical divers (divers trained for diving deeper and staying down longer, using mixed gases) may use 100% oxygen tanks underwater at six metres or shallower to off-gas (remove nitrogen from the body) so they can safely ascend without facing DCS (decompression sickness).

Often misquoted in the media!

As you can see, the media often quote from one another and use the words ‘air’ and ‘oxygen’ interchangeably. So this question could be referring to air levels or oxygen levels, and it could refer to the air levels and oxygen levels above water in the cave or underwater while scuba diving.

As an example of this, one media source quoted that a rescue diver died because he ran out of air, while in the next paragraph, the same media source said his oxygen supply had run out.

There’s a difference!

Those are actually two VERY DIFFERENT things.

If he was diving on a scuba tank, he could run out of air as he consumes it, but he could not run out of oxygen as a scuba tank is just filled with compressed air which can’t have decreased oxygen levels. The only way he could run out of oxygen was if he was on a rebreather unit. Some of the overseas rescue divers were actually photographed wearing a rebreather unit.

A rebreatheris a diving unit that recycles the air. The rebreather basically recycles the same air, removing C02 while adding oxygen, allowing the diver to breathe the same air back in.

A scuba diver with a closed circuit rebreather (Photo: Shutterstock)

While diving on rebreathers, if the rebreather dive computer or oxygen sensor or equipment doesn’t work properly, the air can become low on oxygen as the rebreather head unit doesn’t inject more oxygen into the air to return it back to 21% oxygen. Qualified technical divers are trained to regularly check their dive computers and O2 sensor readings to reduce incidents of lower oxygen.

So the frequent references to oxygen levels in the cave being low in the media likely refers to the oxygen levels above water.

The cave where the 12 students were trapped became low on oxygen as the oxygen levels decreased over time.

The cave where the other volunteer rescuers were using as a base camp also faced decreased oxygen levels as rescuers work round the clock.

Underwater diving scenarios

For underwater diving scenarios, to avoid a low-on-air situation during a cave dive, a rule of thirds is used, one third to go in, one third to come out, and one third reserve, so divers have to be disciplined to stick to this rule, to always have enough air and to plan their dives properly and to know when to go back or end the dive if circumstances have changed. Also, divers must be trained not to panic and to control their breathing and stay calm to not use up more air than they normally would.

When a cave is low on oxygen above water, like at the rescue mission, they considered actions like allowing less people in, setting up an intake pipe with oxygen or air access, and bringing in more oxygen tanks to increase o2 levels back up to 21%.

Question 4: What’s the difference between diving and cave diving?

Scuba diving normally refers to recreational diving, that is diving no deeper than 40 metres or diving where decompression stops on the way up is not required or where there is no obstacle overhead to block your route to the surface.

Technical diving is deeper than 40 metres, or where decompression stops are required, or diving with mixed gases, or where there is an overhead environment, such as cave diving.

For cave diving, because you cannot just surface and breathe in an emergency, more training is required, more equipment and planning is also required. You will need underwater lights, proper air planning, and more durable diving equipment for the hazardous environment.

Question 5: Are there any courses on how to survive such a scenario?

(Photo: Shutterstock)

The Thai youths trapped in the cave had a much lower chance of making it out as they didn’t know how to swim and also didn’t know how to dive.

There are MANY courses in Brunei that people can sign up for to be better prepared for such a scenario.

For starters, they can learn how to swim by taking swimming lessons or learn to scuba dive by taking diving classes, such as Poni Divers (@ponidivers).

Being in a cave requires use of lines and climbing equipment, so they can go rockclimbing at the local rock climbing gym, such as Up Climbing Centre (@up_climbingcentre).

Overseas, they can go potholing or caving (exploring in caves) with a certified guide or instructor.

There are also various survival guide resources available that discuss how to survive in such scenarios by keeping a level head, and how to stay safe and secure, and how to make the right decisions.

However, the most important one probably is prevention. And that is to try to prevent some thing like this from happening.

The easiest way to do that is simple things like always find an expert to bring you into new places and to be familiar with the hazards of your activities and to inform people where you are going.

Other than that, stay fit and take up some adventure sports for that day when you may need some of those adventure skills!

We’d love to hear from YOU!

Is there a question you would like to ask Poni Divers? Drop us a line in the comments section below or reach out to us via social media.

Poni Divers has as part of its mission, an initiative to give back through educational and sponsored programmes. Its focus is on increasing the awareness of the wonder and beauty of the marine ecosystems and to encourage others to protect and maintain these fragile environments.

If you would like to learn more about Poni Divers, click here to visit their Facebook page or click here to reach out to them via Instagram. Alternatively you may visit their website by clicking here.

2018 World Cup predictions: Are you smarter than Google?

Infographic: The Semi-Final Winners (According to Google) | StatistaThe infographic above that was prepared by StatistaCharts shows Google’s predictions of which teams would likely emerge as the winners of the 2018 FIFA World Cup semi-final matches.

According to data compiled by Google on July 9 (Monday), the probability of FRANCE emerging as the winner of the 2am (Brunei time, July 11) match against Belgium is 38%.

Belgium, on the other hand, has a 32% chance of winning this match, while the chance of a draw is 30%.

As for the 2am (Brunei time, July 12) match between Croatia and England, there is a strong probability (41%) that ENGLAND will emerge as the better team, while the likelihood of Croatia winning the match stands at only 29%. The probability of a draw for this match, meanwhile, is 30%.

If Google is right, you will be seeing France going up against England for the 2018 FIFA World Cup trophy at 11pm this Sunday (Brunei time, July 15).

But this is what Google thinks will happen. We here at ‘Neue’ want to hear from YOU – take part in the poll below and see if you are really smarter than Google!

Semi-final (2am Brunei time, July 11) FRANCE vs BELGIUM - who do YOU think will win?

 

Semi-final (2am Brunei time, July 12) CROATIA vs ENGLAND - who do YOU think will win?

 

FINALS (11pm Brunei time, July 15) Who do YOU think will win?

Is society doing enough to help charities in Brunei?

The joy of giving: You too can put a smile on their faces

‘Neue’ was recently invited by the International Women’s Club of Brunei Darussalam (IWCB) to attend their Hari Raya celebration for Pusat Ehsan Al-Ameerah Al-Hajjah Maryam (Pusat Ehsan), a non-government charity organisation committed to providing quality education, rehabilitation and training programmes for individuals with special needs.

As I drove to Pusat Ehsan in Bengkurong last Friday afternoon (July 6), I thought to myself, “Is society doing enough to help charities in Brunei?”

It had been a couple of years since I last visited Pusat Ehsan as part of a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity.

A lot has changed since then, such as the construction of the new Pusat Ehsan Rehabilitation Block, which was built at a cost of over a million dollars.

The majority of the funding was contributed by Her Royal Highness Princess ‘Azemah Ni’matul Bolkiah, Chairperson of Pusat Ehsan; Her Royal Highness Princess Fadzilah Lubabul Bolkiah; and the Patron of Pusat Ehsan.

Senior Trustee of Pusat Ehsan Dato Paduka Haji Mohammad Alimin bin Haji Abdul Wahab (right) receiving a donation on behalf of Pusat Ehsan from the President of IWCB, Ungku Datin Hajah Fanzah binti Haji Osman (centre) and Supinya Suwanpradhes (left), the wife of His Excellency Biravij Suwanpradhes, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand to Brunei Darussalam during the Hari Raya celebration (Photos: Lance Thoo)

It’s not just about donating money, it’s about volunteering your time

As I walked into the hall of the Rehabilitation Block, where the IWCB’s Hari Raya celebration was being held for Pusat Ehsan, I saw a cheerful elderly man playing away at the keyboards near the main stage.

“Does he work for Pusat Ehsan?” I asked a member of the IWCB.

“Most of the people you see here today are volunteers, such as people who are on their pension and ex-military officers,” said Cecilia Teo, the Treasurer of IWCB.

As she drew my attention to the energetic keyboardist who was now breaking into song and dance, she said, “You’d be surprised how young at heart the elderly can be. People like him are volunteers who wholeheartedly give their time to supporting people in need.”

Bringing joy to others is priceless

Handing over Hari Raya ‘Ang Pow’ to students of Pusat Ehsan
All smiles during last Friday’s Hari Raya gathering at Pusat Ehsan

Last week, ‘Neue’ published a story on how much people should give when handing over Hari Raya ‘Ang Pow’ (small packets containing money) .

That story came to mind as I saw Pusat Ehsan members receiving money packets during last Friday’s Hari Raya celebration.

One particular moment that was etched in my mind was when I saw a cheerful youth in a wheelchair being embraced by the President of IWCB, Ungku Datin Hajah Fanzah binti Haji Osman (see main photo at top of page).

It was this exact moment that I realised that events such as these weren’t just about “giving money away”. But rather, it’s about making time for others.

Money helps, but it’s not everything.

How can people working for the Brunei Government help?

According to the Department of Community Development (JAPEM), Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sports, alternative channels have been prepared to enable officers and government employees to donate (through payroll deductions) to Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) for People with Special Needs through holding accounts prepared by the Ministry of Finance.

NGOs for People with Special Needs that have been identified are:

(1) Association of Handicapped Children (KACA)

(2) Pusat Ehsan Al-Ameerah Al-Hajjah Maryam

(3) Association for Autism in Training, Education and Resources Brunei Darussalam (SMARTER)

(4) Learning Ladders Society (LLS)

(5) Association of People Wheelchair and Disabled Persons Member (PDA)

(6) Association of the Visually Impaired Persons National Brunei Darussalam (BDNAB)

(7) Special Olympics Brunei Darussalam (SOBD)

(8) National Association of People With Hearing Loss

For more information on how to contribute to these NGOs, click here for details on payroll deduction.

I don’t work for the Brunei Government, but how can I help?

According to Naz Rashid, the Vice-President of IWCB, the community can make a donation by stocking up on food for ‘The Kitchen’ that can be found at the new Pusat Ehsan Rehabilitation Block.

She told ‘Neue’ that items and equipment that can be found in ‘The Kitchen’ were donated by the IWCB.

Students of Pusat Ehsan can pick up cooking skills at ‘The Kitchen’. Items and equipment here were donated by the IWCB

Naz Rashid, who is a lawyer by profession, explained that students of Pusat Ehsan learn how to cook here.

“The community can get in touch with us (the IWCB) and we’ll try to arrange something,” she said, adding that the IWCB is a registered club with lots of international ladies who are all volunteers committed to helping others.

When asked what she hoped to see more in future, she said “more participation from the community”.

Give your time

As mentioned before, you can give something much more valuable than money, and it won’t cost you a dime. Your time at the centre, to connect with the youths and adults there, would impact the community in a wonderful way. Whether it’s an hour a week, or two, or a weekend, your presence can make a world of difference.

Talk to them. Listen to them. Share life with them. In a community-driven society like Brunei, let’s cultivate a sense of duty to one another and build an all-inclusive community that celebrates individuality with care and understanding.

So, if you’re interested in supporting any Pusat Ehsan charity events, becoming a volunteer or making a donation, you can send an e-mail to huda.ahm@pusatehsan.org.bn

We hope this article provided some insight for people who are interested in helping out associations such as Pusat Ehsan.

Do you think society is doing enough to help charities in Brunei?

Big Mac vs Whopper: Which is your favourite?

What’s for lunch?

“It’s lunch time, and I’m craving for burgers! Where should we go? McDonald’s or Burger King?”

This was what one of my lunch buddies said in a WhatsApp group chat.

Some insisted on getting a Big Mac from McDonald’s, while the rest insisted on getting their hands on a Whopper from Burger King.

At first, everything was calm. But then one of them said, “McDonald’s burgers are better!”

McD’s Big Mac
Burger King’s Whopper

This was followed by a message that read, “No way! Burger King for the win!”

And before I knew it, I had to be the peacemaker in the group chat to talk some sense to them.

I never knew deciding where to get your burgers from could get so complicated!

What’s the difference between the burgers?

The ‘Neue’ team was called in to conduct a non-scientific experiment to help these group friends reconsile with each other following their PETTY but HILARIOUS argument.

That was one of them proposed having a side-by-side comparison of the burgers.

Just to clarify, this is NOT a story to determine which is the BETTER TASTING burger. Rather, it’s just a fun way of viewing things in this world.

A team of ‘burger judges’ was assembled to oversee a 6-round burger fight.

Burger Showdown Starts Now!

Round #1: Size matters

Burger King’s Whopper: 7.0 cm Height X 12.2 cm Width

McDonald’s BigMac: 6.9 cm Height x 10.4 cm Width

Winner: BK’s Whopper (Bigger)

Current score: BK’s Whopper (1) – McD’s BigMac (0) – BK has the UPPER hand!

Round #2: Value for a burger with 2 patties

BK’s Whopper: $7.90

McD’s Big Mac: $5.50

Winner: McD’s Big Mac (Cheaper)

Current score: BK’s Whopper (1) – McD’s Big Mac (1) – It’s a DRAW!

Round #3: Messier burger = More satisfying

After taking a big bite out of McD’s Big Mac

BK’s Whopper: As there is a sheet of lettuce (instead of chopped) and onion slices, eating this burger seems tidier compared to McD’s Big Mac.

McD’s Big Mac: Chopped lettuce all over the place. Sauce coming out of the sides.

Winner: McD’s Big Mac (The messier, the better! It’s so satisfying!)

Current score: BK’s Whopper (1) – McD’s Big Mac (2) – McD has the UPPER hand!

Round #4: Juiciness of burger patties

BK’s Whopper: Flame-grilled … need we say more? According to our judges, there’s just something special about this.

McD’s Big Mac: Tasty … but not as great as BK’s flame-grilled patties.

Winner: BK’s Whopper (We think our judges have a soft spot for flame-grilled stuff)

Current score: BK’s Whopper (2) – McD’s Big Mac (2) – It’s a DRAW … again!

Round #5: Sauce

BK’s Whopper: Tangy. Our judges enjoyed it but compared to the Big Mac, it was “just alright”.

McD’s Big Mac: The Big Mac’s Special Sauce won our judges’ hearts over. According to them, there’s just something about it. “We love it!”

Winner: All signs point to McD’s Big Mac.

Current score: BK’s Whopper (2) – McD’s Big Mac (3) – McD takes the lead!

Round #6: Packaging

BK’s Whopper: Just a wrapper.

McD’s Big Mac: Informative packaging. Bright colours.

Winner: McD’s Big Mac

Current score: BK’s Whopper (2) – McD’s Big Mac (4) – McD claims victory!

We shared the above findings with our ‘Food Buds’ group chat the following day.

But again, there were 3 camps formed – (1) Those loyal to McDonald’s, (2) Those who love Burger King, and (3) The people with no opinion. Which group do you fall in?

What would you like ‘Neue’ to compare in our next food fight? Drop us a line in the comments section below or reach out to us via our social media accounts.

Final round – You decide!

Out of the 2 burgers, which is your favourite burger?

Survival guide to Brunei’s 21st Consumer Fair

*The following report is a special collaboration between ‘Neue’ and Ranoadidas 

Brunei’s biggest trade fair, the 21st Consumer Fair, was officially launched on June 27 (Wednesday) at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Berakas. The five-day fair ended on July 1.

What to check out – It’s Claw-ful!

Aside from the hundreds of booths to check out, the Consumer Fair is also well known for its featured attractions.

One of the must-try activities is the Human Claw Machine, which is said to be the first-of-its-kind in Brunei.

On Tuesday (June 26) – a day before the official launching of the Consumer Fair – the ‘Neue’ team and Rano were among the first in the country to check out the Human Claw Machine.

You have nothing to fear as the Human Claw Machine can support the weight of Brunei’s famous social media blogger, Ranoadidas

We expect the Human Claw Machine to be a popular attraction among visitors, especially children and the young-at-heart. 

How it works? All you have to do is pay a $5 fee for an attempt to grab as many prizes as possible during your turn. You will be hoisted up by a hook attached to a safety harness.

If you are accompanied by a friend or relative, you can ask them to handle the CONTROLLER of the Human Claw Machine (see photo below) while you are hoisted up in the air.

A staff of D’Sunlit demonstrating how to operate the Human Claw Machine

However, if you are alone, do not worry, as one of the friendly staff members of D’Sunlit will be there to assist you.

We do not want to spoil the surprise for you, but a little bird told us that there could be a flashy prize (a mobile phone, perhaps?).

Share your ‘Claw-fie’ & win a mystery prize

Be sure to ask someone to snap a photo of you dangling on the Human Claw Machine as you could be the lucky winner of a mystery prize courtesy of ‘Neue’ and Ranoadidas! All  you have to do is upload a photo with the #RanoNeueClaw hashtag.

We will be selecting the winning #RanoNeueClaw photo after the 21st Consumer Fair ends this Sunday (July 1). So be creative and be sure to give the Human Claw Machine a try.

Thai street food heaven

Another highlight of the 21st Consumer Fair is the Thailand Grand Fair, which will feature a wide range of Thai street food.

We certainly do not mind putting on some weight here as we’ll take great pleasure sampling food from each and every stall. We just can’t get enough of mango sticky rice and iced ABC (cendol) here!

It’s going to be hard to miss the Thailand Grand Fair, as it is strategically located on your first right as you walk through the main entrance of the ICC.

If you happen to come across any amazing Thai street food, do drop us a line in the comments section below or via our social media platforms, and we’ll be sure to check it out. Who knows? We may even feature you on our social media posts!

Be sure to check out the Cooking Demo with Chef Sujet Saenkham at the Thailand Grand Fair stage. From June 27 to June 30, the cooking demo will be from 8pm to 8.30pm. On July 1, it will be held from 7.15pm to 8pm.

There will also be a Som Tum Making Competition, whereby the preliminary rounds will take place from June 27 to June 30 from 8.30pm to 9.30pm. The final round and prize presentation will take place on July 1 from 8pm to 9.30pm.

Check these booths out!

Be sure to make time to visit DST’s 360-degree ‘SmileCam’ booth. If you have a device that supports ‘AirDrop’, the friendly team from DST will be on hand to transfer your 360-degree video. For those who do not have any devices that support AirDrop’, you can expect the file to be e-mailed to you.

Be sure to visit the booth of J3sMart. Photo shows the friendly team of the online store at the Consumer Fair. They’ll show you how easy it is to acquire things that may not be available in Brunei thanks to their easy-to-use website. Online shopping has never been this much fun! And while you’re here, grab some cotton candy too!

Enjoy buffer-less 4K video streaming with TelBru. Be sure to enquire about their ultra-fast unlimited plans. Also do check out their VR game challenge (below) at TelBru’s pavilion. We were told that the person with the highest score would get a PlayStation 4 complete with an Oculus VR set!

You could win yourself a holiday to Jakarta thanks to Cuckoo. According to Thomas Sia Yung Sook, Natural Manager of Cuckoo, customers will be eligible to take part in the lucky draw if they pay outright, instead of opting for monthly payments. For more information, visit the Cuckoo booth
Be sure to check out Nimanja’s booth for all your pet food needs
Only 100% authentic cosmetic products sold here at the Pink Puffy Pop booth (located in front of the Human Claw Machine)
Pain be gone … Be sure to check out the Starbalm booth for remedies for joint and muscle pain
According to a staff manning the Signature Kitchen booth, you will receive a Bang & Olufsen gift if you make a 10% deposit for any of their ‘Signature Kitchen’ fixtures
Just $5 for this interesting pastry that can be found around the Food Court A section. Be sure to give it a try!

Your Survival Guide To The 21st Consumer Fair

The following are some suggestions on how to ensure that you’ll have a great time at the Consumer Fair.

(1) Dart’s the way – Book a ride with the ‘Dart’ app

(Photo courtesy of Dartbrunei)

If you can’t be bothered finding parking or even driving to the ICC to visit the Consumer Fair, we have good news for you! Come ride with Dart for only $5 and avoid the hassle of waiting for the shuttle bus. Don’t worry, the Dart Car will drop you off at the main entrance. Riding has never been so easy!

*Terms and conditions:

Enter ‘dartstop’ on the Dart app as your drop-off/pick-up location to enjoy this promo ride to Consumer Fair

Fixed BND 5.00 Dart Car fare for 12km trips or below.

Trips exceeding 12km will receive a fixed discount of BND 4.00 per trip

Promo available from 10 AM to 10PM until July 1, 2018

(2) Set a meeting point.

Don’t waste time looking for your lost friends or family members.

If you are going to the Consumer Fair with a group, the last thing you want is to waste time finding that one or two lost person(s).

In this day and age, everyone has a mobile phone. But the unexpected can happen … congested network, your friend runs out of credit, not enough battery (see tip number 6 below), etc.

This is why it’s best to set up a meeting time at a set location. For example, group gathering in front of a particular painting hanging on the walls of the ICC at 3pm.

 (3) Bring cash of various denominations.

Don’t make life difficult for others. If you’re going to buy an item that’s worth only a few dollars, you don’t have to use that $100 note in your pocket.

(4) Enjoy FREE water with Cuckoo.

Did you know that Cuckoo has set up water dispenser stations at strategic points around the Consumer Fair? Be sure to enjoy the complimentary water!

(5) Bring an umbrella.

Getting caught out in the rain without an umbrella would certainly dampen your mood while browsing around the Consumer Fair. So ensure that you have an umbrella handy.

(6) Bring a power bank or two.

This is self-explanatory. Ensure that you pack one or two power banks if you’re planning to spend some time at the Consumer Fair.

Highlights of the closing ceremony:

Pavitra Kaur, the Director of Jayapuri (B) Sdn Bhd, was crowned the winner of the ‘Som Tum’ (Papaya Salad) Making Contest during the Thailand Grand Fair 2018. Photo shows Ambassador of Thailand to Brunei Darussalam, His Excellency Biravij Suwanpradhes, presenting the grand prize to the winner of the competition. Also seen in photo (far left) is Kelvin Goh, the Manager of Grace Travel Agency
Winners of the Consumer Fair Grand Draw in a group photo. The grand prize winner walked home with $1,000 cash, while other lucky draw recipients won prizes that ranged from flat-screen television sets to foot massagers

Did you happen to come across something interesting at the 21st Consumer Fair? Did you spot any cool products that you would like to share with the world? Drop us a line in the comments section below or reach out to us via social media.

Cross border just for groceries? Not worth it!

Is it worth it?

Is it worth the trip to Miri, Limbang or even Kota Kinabalu from Brunei Darussalam just for groceries? No!

But is it worth the trip for a relaxing weekend of shopping combined with leisure? If it’s a combination of these things, then the answer is a resounding Yes!

Well, this is according to the findings of a survey (see photo below) that was featured in our article – Grocery shopping: Is it worth the trip to Miri? – that had received over 6,000 page views, as of June 20, 2018.

Price check

Facebook user ‘Zair Zairin’ noted that the products that were featured in the article – “Grocery shopping: Is it worth the trip to Miri?” – did not reflect what an average Bruneian family would purchase in Miri.

Our readers also asked us to compare prices for items aside from “junk food”.

The most requested items were baby diapers, butter, cooking oil and fizzy drinks, specifically Coca-Cola (Coke).

Two shops in Brunei where we surveyed prices were Sim Kim Huat (SKH) and Hua Ho.

While in Miri, we visited Emart and Boulevard, which are popular among Brunei shoppers.

Prices of selected items in the table (below) were noted down by the ‘Neue’ team around mid-June.

People who say it’s WORTH it

Responding to our question if grocery shopping was worth the trip from Brunei to Miri, Facebook user ‘Saifull Rizal’ said at the end of the day, it all depends on what you’re buying and that it’s important to buy in bulk for items such as diapers and baby formula milk.

Facebook user ‘Kharen June Operiano Charles’ said shops in Brunei were “super overpriced”.

“Same price but different currency … how is that possible?” she asked.

Another user ‘Ny Izd’ pointed out that every dollar saved in Miri goes a long way. “If you can save at least 1 Brunei dollar for each item that you guy in Malaysia … Imagine how much you would save if you buy more groceries?”

Facebook user ‘Fira Rish’ said she prefers going to Miri for facial treatments because shops there use the same skin care products as what you would get from a spa in Brunei. In short, same product but you pay less in Miri.

People who say it’s NOT worth it

According to Facebook user ‘Fandy Osman’, even though things are cheaper across the border (outside Brunei), one has to consider things like “indirect costs” and “opportunity costs” such as fuel, risk of travel mishaps, toll fees, time spent travelling and accommodation.

As far as he is concerned, these hidden costs make the trip to Miri not cost-saving at all.

Another Facebook user ‘Paul Dominique Galvez’ said a value should be put on EFFORT spent by people travelling across the border just for groceries.

According to him, if you were to factor in travel time and effort, the price difference of items that you can find in Brunei and Miri would be negligible.

Shop in Brunei! Let’s support local businesses!

Facebook user ‘Jasmine Xia’, on the other hand, hoped to see more Brunei shoppers help our own country to improve LOCAL businesses.

“People love to shop in Miri due to the favourable exchange rates. Bruneians spend a lot in neighbouring states and this does NOT help our own economy,” she said.

“Considering the subsidies that the Brunei Government provides for the people, we should take steps to help our OWN country to improve LOCAL businesses,” she added.

According to her, if you were to factor in fuel expenses and other what-nots, you’re not saving.

When asked if changing people’s mentality was frustratingly difficult, she said: “Yes definitely! But at the end of the day, people have the right to choose what they want to do with their hard-earned money.

“Small & Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) need the support of Brunei shoppers be it for groceries, restaurants, electronics, clothing, hardware, house renovations, etc.

“Without the purchasing power of locals in Brunei … without their support, businesses locally won’t thrive.

“Imagine, even for groceries, people don’t want to shop locally! But they are enjoying the subsidies in Brunei.

“These are just my two cents. We don’t have to border hop for everything. Let’s help the government create a better economy! Locals have that power if they can just stop turning to Miri for everything.”

Before and after GST

We wrote the story – Grocery shopping: Is it worth the trip to Miri? – earlier in the year when shoppers in Malaysia were charged GST (Good & Services Tax).

Soon after the Neue website was launched, Malaysia’s newly elected prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, in a surprise announcement scrapped the 6% GST in the country.

We asked Facebook user ‘Mii Nineteens’ about his thoughts on whether more Bruneian shoppers would be rushing across the border following news that GST in Malaysia would be scrapped.

“I doubt anything big would change. It would still be the same regardless (with or without the GST). People will still go to Miri since it’s like killing 2 birds with 1 stone – you get to enjoy a vacation (sightseeing) once a month, while at the same time, shop for stuff and enjoy cheap food,” he said.

What do you have to say about this?

Drop us a message in the comments section below or via Facebook and Instagram.

For our next story, what would you like us to compare?

Is it true? 1 trolley in Brunei = 2 trolleys in Miri

Our story “Grocery shopping: Is it worth the trip to Miri?” stirred up a debate in the comments section.

For our experiment, we wanted to see what we could get with just 50 Brunei dollars (about RM150) at grocery stores in Brunei and Miri, Malaysia.

In the comments section of Neue’s Facebook post, some people said that the items we bought for the social experiment were “not groceries”.

People say that you should never go into a supermarket without a shopping list. And now we know why.

This was probably why we bought so much junk food for our last story!

Before we proceed with the story, we invite you to take part in the survey below:

What you get with 1 trolley in Brunei, you can get twice as much in Miri for the same amount of money. Do you agree?

 

A Brunei family who got in touch with us said they would only go to Miri once every two months for their grocery shopping.

They said, “Making the trip to Miri for groceries is worth it.

“From our own personal experience, we can confidently say that 1 trolley full of groceries in Brunei is equivalent to 2 trolleys full of groceries in Miri from stores such as Emart Supermarket

“Furthermore, those 2 trolleys full of groceries would be able to last our family for about a month,” they added.

Unable to compete with retail prices in Malaysia

A business owner in Brunei reached out to us in hopes that we could help him share his point of view with the general public as to why people are more inclined to do their shopping across the border.

He requested that we keep his identity confidential as he wasn’t sure if people would take too kindly about what he had to say.

Some shoppers think that business owners in Brunei inflate the prices too much

The business owner said, “It is true that groceries are much cheaper in Miri than Brunei.

“I’m not sure if it’s because import taxes in Brunei are high or suppliers in Brunei have high profit margins because of the lack of competition.

“But as a business owner, I can tell you that some of the products we get supplied from distributors in Brunei are more expensive than the retail prices in Malaysia.

“That said, this is one reason why business owners such as myself are unable to compete with prices in Malaysia, or in this context, Miri.

“The general public do not understand this. They think that business owners inflate the prices too much.”

What do you have to say about this?

Have a good debate about this with your family and friends, especially over the Hari Raya festivities.

Trust us! It’ll be a good topic to bring up to dodge those “kawin dah?” (have you married?) and “kraja mana dah” (where are you working now?) conversations as you visit open houses around Brunei (or across the border).

Drop us a message in the comments section below or via our social media platforms.

Have you stolen before?

It’s not always free.

Some people in Brunei Darussalam may have unknowingly been skirting dangerously close with copyright infringement by using pictures taken from Google Images for their publications, websites, campaigns or promotions.

Did you know that just because it’s on Google, doesn’t mean that you can use it?

We recently posed this question to a cross section of the Brunei community, and we were surprised by their response:

“Whenever I needed to find a photo for a project, I would just copy and paste high-resolution images found on Google Images.”

“What’s so wrong about using photos that I can easily find from Google? It’s on the Internet so I can take it!”

In light of the public’s response above, we believe that there is a need to promote copyright education and awareness among the general population.

Copyright has been a hot topic in social media and online forums such as Reddit after a Hong Kong-based designer, Marc Allante, alleged that Brunei-based sportswear company Headhunter Sport had taken original artwork from international designers.

On June 1, the Brunei-based sportswear company issued a public apology via its social media platforms.

The following is a simple Q&A that we’ve compiled to help the general public get a better understanding about copyright:

Question: So what exactly is copyright?

According to the Brunei Darussalam Intellectual Property Office (BruIPO), copyright (or author’s right) is a form of Intellectual Property (IP) and is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works.

Works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture, and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps, and technical drawings.

In most countries, including Brunei, copyright protection is obtained automatically without the need for registration or other formalities.

Whilst BruIPO is responsible for the registration of industrial property (patents, trademarks and industrial designs), copyright on the other hand, is under the purview of Brunei’s Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC).

Question: And what about copyright protection?

According to the AGC, copyright and related rights protection is obtained automatically without any need for registration or other formalities.

Unlike other types of intellectual property such as trademark, patent or industrial designs where these types of intellectual property must be registered for protection, copyright and related rights are unique where, the moment you create a work, it is automatically protected.

Therefore, everything that you write (or draw or paint or whatever) regardless of whether it is an e-mail, a recording, an image, a thesis, a web page, or anything else, is automatically copyright protected.

Not only that, works created in Brunei will have protection in other countries who are a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) or the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, usually known as the Berne Convention. This would mean that your copyright or related rights is already protected in most countries without having to ‘register’ or go to those countries.

Brunei is a party to both the WTO and Berne Convention.

Question: Isn’t attributing the photo to its original source in the caption good enough?

According to a report by LifeLearn, the short answer is not always.

The safest bet is to assume that, unless something clearly states otherwise, anything published online is protected by copyright law. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Doing any of the following things may not always relieve your practice from liability:

  • Attributing the photo to the original photographer/illustrator in the caption.
  • Linking the photo back to the original source.
  • Making changes to the copyrighted image.
  • Only using the image on social media.
  • Placing a disclaimer on your website stating that you don’t own any of the photos and that all rights belong to the original creator.
  • Embedding the photo into your website using the original source URL instead of hosting it on your server.
  • Uploading a smaller-version/thumbnail of the image.
  • Using an image that doesn’t have a copyright symbol or watermark on it. The lack of copyright notice does not indicate that the image is free to use.
  • Taking the image down immediately following a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notice. Taking the image down is necessary but does not remove your liability.

Question: So where can you find free graphics or photos?

Our recommendation would be Pexels, a website that provides free stock photos to help millions of creators all over the world to easily create beautiful products and designs.

It’s hard to understand complex licences that is why all photos on Pexels are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) licence. This means the pictures are completely free to be used for any legal purpose.

  • The pictures are free for personal and even for commercial use.
  • You can modify, copy and distribute the photos.
  • All without asking for permission or setting a link to the source. So, attribution is not required.

The only restriction is that identifiable people may not appear in a bad light or in a way that they may find offensive, unless they give their consent. You should also make sure the depicted content (people, logos, private property, etc) is suitable for your application and doesn’t infringe any rights.

Also, because the content is free, there is no guarantee that what you decide to use is unique. Other people may be using the same images for their own use. As a business, this may not be such a good idea if you’re trying to stand out in the market by being original.

The CC0 licence was released by the non-profit organisation, Creative Commons. More information about Creative Commons images and the licence can be found here.

Question: Maybe I don’t want photos or graphics under a Creative Commons licence. What are my options?

(1) Paid service.

Many companies sell royalty-free (RF) licence for stock images from their collections such as Shutterstock, 123rf and Getty Images.

RF licence grants non-exclusive, unlimited and multiple use of an image, with few restrictions. It’s a one-time fee that allows perpetual use of the image in all the permitted ways. You can then use the licensed material for your own company, website or for advertisement. These licensed images are usually called royalty-free images and are different to rights managed images.

Due to the non-exclusivity that allows to sell as many licences to the same photo as buyers are willing to buy, images sold under RF licence are widely distributed across stock photo agencies, and priced at low (and flat) rates. For this reason they are also often in use by different people, companies and brands at the same time, in different ways.

(2) Freelancers.

Whether you need a new logo, a stunning web page, or a flashy advertisement, professionally designed visuals make the right first impression and can leave a lasting impact.

However, it may feel a little bit intimidating to hire a freelance graphic designer, creative or photographer if you don’t know much about the creative industry.

Freelancers work on a per contract basis. Instead of working for an employer, a freelancer works on multiple projects for different clients.

(3) Commissions.

Commissions are agreements that photographers make with clients to shoot a specific location for them. They pay you (the photographer) an agreed amount of money, and you spend the time to visit and shoot the location according to their wishes.

(4) Media agencies.

The Associated Press (AP)Agence France Presse (AFP)Reuters and German Press Agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) are some of the leading media agencies that provide photos for a fee. Reputable news agencies such as the ones mentioned should have all the imagery you need, including award-winning photos.

(5) Creative agencies. 

Creative agencies can specialise in a variety of fields such as branding, marketing, production, graphic design, copywriting and media. They can usually offer more than just a single photograph or artwork, such as a full branding exercise or advertising campaign. If you require a more holistic approach to your design needs, creative agencies are a good (and sometimes quite cost-effective) option, where they will have a streamlined approach towards bringing on a partner to tackle your problems.

(6) Do-It-Yourself.

When all else fails, you may consider taking the photos or designing the artwork yourself. Although, unless you are an expert, we’d probably advise you to save time and frustration from taking on this task alone.

Question: This is still a bit confusing. Is there anyone I can talk to about this?

(1) Talk to your local copyright office.

BruIPO is responsible for the registration of patents, trademarks, industrial designs and plant varieties protection (PVP) as well as the implementation of international registration systems under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), Madrid Protocol (trademark) and the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs, which are all administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

BruIPO was set up on June 1, 2013 in an effort to restructure the national IP administration.

Among the aims of the BruIPO are:

  • To provide a clear, accessible and widely understood patent system that protects ideas and innovation.
  • To raise awareness on the benefits and protection of trademarks and industrial designs and to use them to enhance business growth and competitiveness.
  • To promote and develop an ‘IP Culture’ where creativity and innovation can flourish.
  • To establish partnership with the relevant stakeholders in support of the national innovation ecosystem.​

For more information, visit the websites of BruIPO or Attorney General’s Chambers.

(2) Talk to professionals.

Hoco Agency, a digital communications consultancy in Brunei, has a wealth of experience building recognisable brands and campaigns in the country.

As part of their initiative towards championing the growth and rights of the creative industry, they are more than happy to provide insights on these matters, or any other related issues concerning the creative and media industry. Click here to get in touch with them for a FREE consult.

Do you think that artists should be compensated for their work?

Do you have any of these royal wedding memorabilia?

Chances are you were among the millions of people who watched the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last Saturday (May 19, 2018) on TV.

It goes without saying that the wedding at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle was a coveted affair that many people wished they had been invited to.

But fret not, you can own royal wedding memorabilia thanks to the wonders of the Internet.

You can find the most random things online. And eBay is no exception.

Here’s a look at some of the memorabilia that caught our attention:

1. KFC’s Royal Wedding Bucket

Limited edition KFC bucket (Photos courtesy of KFC, eBay, Politicalcereals, Asda)

Yes, you read that right!

KFC designed a commemorative bucket to celebrate Harry and Meghan’s big day on May 19.

According to Mashable, Prince Harry got down on one knee while the couple was cooking a roast chicken.

“When we discovered Prince Harry proposed over a roast chicken, we simply had to show our support for the big occasion,” a KFC spokesperson commented in a statement emailed to Mashable.

The Royal Wedding Bucket, as it’s been named, features “a bespoke crest” with a “modern KFC twist”.

“Featuring resplendent gold flourishes, the bucket is embellished with a classic regal crest, proudly adorned with both British and American flags,” according to KFC. 

It is understood that only a limited number of buckets were made available from KFC’s Windsor branch on Dedworth road.

The last time I checked on eBay, I saw bids for one of these buckets going as high as US$1,000.

2. ‘Marry Me Harry’ t-shirts

“How can those women be wearing such a shirt?”

That was one of my friends exclaimed when she saw on TV a group of women wearing ‘Marry Me Harry’ t-shirts waving at the royal couple.

Personally, I thought it was harmless fun.

According to a report by OK!, Asda’s own clothing range, George, launched a range of unique slogan t-shirts to mark the regal data.

Besides the ‘Marry Me Harry’ slogan, you could also get your hands on t-shirts with a slogan saying ‘When Harry Met Meghan’. They were being sold for around US$5 at Asda.

However, the last time I checked on eBay, these shirts were fetching prices of around US$40.

3. Royal cereal

Fancy a box of toasted multigrain cereal rings – that’s also suitable for vegetarians? Behold the Harry and Meghan’s Wedding Rings Commemorative Breakfast Cereal. For more information, visit PoliticalCereals.

Do you have any memorabilia of royal weddings you’d like to share? Get in touch with us and we may feature your items in our next article. We’d love to hear from you.

For further reading, we recommend the following report by CNBC – ‘People are selling their royal wedding bags on eBay’.

Getting to London has never been easier

I’m just going to say it: I do not enjoy layovers.

The faster I can get to my destination the better.

So when Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) announced that it would be launching daily non-stop direct flights between Bandar Seri Begawan and London in October 2018, I jumped at the chance to plan my next Europe trip.

For now, it would take me 17 hours 5 minutes to get from Brunei International Airport to Heathrow Airport, which is approximately 11,270 kilometres apart. The 17-hour journey is inclusive of a layover in Dubai.

However, once the daily non-stop direct flights are up and running on October 28, the Brunei-London flight is expected to take 14 hours 35 minutes. That’s three-and-a-half hours shaved off!

I recently sat down with a group of well-travelled friends to learn more about how they stay sane during a long-haul flight.

And this is what they had to say:

1. Noise-cancelling headphones are a must

“They are a must-have item.”

This was something that every single one of the friends agreed.

“We would never travel without noise-calling headphones,” they said. “We get better sleep with them on.”

2. Bring some snacks

Even though you will be served meals during your long-haul flight, it does not hurt to have a snack or two stowed in your carry-on luggage.

“We enjoy a good snack, especially after taking a short nap. More importantly, it helps with improving our mood,” they said.

3. Download TV shows and movies

Bring your own entertainment onboard (Photos: Pexel)

Most airlines allow you to switch on your mobiles and tablets, provided you have airplane mode switched on.

While there is in-flight entertainment systems for passengers on most aircraft, watching your own shows is always far better.

“We would download one or two seasons of our favourite TV shows onto our phones or tablets,” they said.

“Couple this with your noise-cancelling headphones, and you’re all set for your long journey,” they added.

4. Don’t be a jerk

From their years of travel, one thing that they’re still learning is to “play nice”.

“When you are travelling alone, you have no say who is sat beside you, especially when flying in economy class. So the more courteous you are with the person sat beside you, the likelihood of you enjoying each other’s company increases,” they said.

“If you wish to remain silent for the entire flight, at the very least, just say hello,” they added.

5. Understand that some things are beyond your control

No one wants to admit it, but crying babies in planes are the worst!

“There is really no point swearing (silently in your head) when you hear the wailings of a crying infant,” they said. “Try to be understanding. We were all babies once. Just know that the parents of that infant is having a tougher time than you are. Just put on your headphones and forget about it.”

Do you agree with our list? Do you have any tips you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you.

For further reading, we recommend the following report by Traveller – ‘Air travel tips: 50 tips on how to make your flight perfect’.