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Hello, my name is Sandy.

Some time in Brunei

In January, I went "back to old country" to see my grandma for her 90th birthday. I don't go back often. Perth is home and comfortable. But I feel an awkward affinity for my 'home' country because so many people I love still live there.

Before this trip, I last visited eight years ago. Though many things had evolved, to me they all still felt the same, looked the same. This year was different. I saw a young person's memories through adult eyes. The monsters I remembered weren't as scary, the mysteries less mysterious, and everywhere, signs of time and change.

We drove past my childhood home. Grandma said she planted coconut trees there when we were little. Mum told me my placenta was buried in the front yard. We sold the house before we moved to Australia. Now, more than 20 years later, it looks run-down. Bare ground replaces my recollection of trees and a lush hibiscus bush. But our old iron swing was still there. Rusted and timeworn, but standing.

ants nest in a longan tree

Travelling. This was the first I'd been asked for my occupation in an official, legally binding context since going feral. I wrote, "writer". It felt good. Do blushing brides feel this way when they first sign with a new last name? Do transgender people feel this way when they fill out the first form asking "M or F"?

I wish I got a picture, but it was almost midnight and my sister and I spent ages trying to figure out what date to put on the form. Is it the date you depart or the date you complete the form? I still don't know.

sister looks down the canal in Bandar

We went for a boat ride down the Brunei River, between thick mangrove banks to see if we could find wild monkeys, and then through Kampong Ayer, the famous water village. I didn't take many pictures. I had my camera out, ready to go, but against the backdrop of forest sounds and our boat cutting through water, all I wanted to do was sit and stare at trees.

We saw two monkeys. You'll have to take my word for that.

a four-dollar laksa - choice, bro

Because this is about food, I'll use a food related figure of speech: this was the icing on the cake. Food, local food, in Brunei is so cheap. I had forgotten how cheap. This laksa cost FOUR DOLLARS. And it was just as good if not better than the $12 laksa you get here.

We had satay and roti and curry ayam and kolomee and Jolibee, which tastes exactly like how I remember it from when I was a kid. My one regret is not having SugarBun, because I really loved their fried chicken and filet o' fish.

My healthy eating went out the window, as is expected on holidays. The food was all very rich, and the climate so very hot and humid - by the end, I was very eager to get back to my regular diet. I made a point of updating my to-do list with "eat a meal of just vegetables".

a hydrant, I think?

It was a wonderful whirlwind of a trip. But no matter how much I enjoy a holiday, the best part is always coming home.

Seeing the cats.

Sleeping in my own bed.

And reliving the fun parts, going through the photos. Let me show you a few.

Happy birthday, Grandma! (Only 2 people knew which camera to look at.)

cooking lessons with Grandma

cutting keropok

a pile of keropok slices

Auntie's cat, Ginger

very tall plant

A crazy tall plant. I assumed it was a dracaena, but now I'm not sure.

touch me not

We called these "touch me nots". Wiki tells me they might be Mimosa pudica. I've made a video if you'd like to see them being touched.

my ant friend

This ant stopped to look at me looking at him.

KB from the aerial tower

Kuala Belait. Full photo on my flickr.

cheap fuel prices

Fuel is also very cheap.

chooks and a pineapple

satay and sauce

sweet potato breakfast

char siew kolomee

a bowling trophy full of fonts

A trophy with Comic Sans.

a plate with a pointless story

A cute plate with a pointless story.

the best Asian shirt

My new favourite t-shirt.

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