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5

For this report we fly to Brunei, a mini-state in

south-eastern Asia, located in a remote corner of

Borneo. While Brunei, with an area of only 5,800

km², is one of the smallest countries in the world,

the island of which it is part is the third largest

in the world with a surface area of 740,000 km

2

.

Only Greenland and New Guinea are larger. To get

to the point straightaway: formally Borneo does

not exist. For the simple reason that it is not a

political unit, but its territory is divided between

three countries: Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. The

southern and largest part of the island - account-

ing for 73% - belongs to Indonesia and is officially

called Kalimantan. Malaysia occupies the northern

part and has two provinces - Sabah and Sarawak

- that together form East Malaysia. Wedged in

between these two Malaysian areas, the indepen-

dent Sultanate of Brunei is barely visible on the

world map. Yet we are exactly aiming for this tiny

country with its 400,000 inhabitants. Why? That

will become clear shortly.

BRUNEI: UNKNOWN IS UNLOVED

We have only just, after a twenty-hour journey, land-

ed in Bandar Seri Begawan - the capital of Brunei

- and we are already being subjected to a barrage of

questions by an over-enthusiastic taxi driver. Where

are you from? How long will you be staying? What

do you think of Brunei? The man wants to know as

much as possible about us during the short journey

from the airport to our hotel. But we are tired and

not in the mood for small talk. However, we cannot

blame him for his curiosity, because the man rarely

has foreigners in his car. According to the World

Tourism Organisation of the United Nations, Brunei

is ranked sixth in the list of least visited countries

in the world. Even Tom Waes hasn’t been here yet.

But for Porschist, the mini-sultanate is interesting,

because Brunei is rich, filthy rich. And where there

is money, there are exclusive cars and where there

are exclusive cars, you'll find - you guessed it -

Porsches. Upon arrival at the hotel, the taxi driver

hands us his business card. 'I am also a guide', Haji

says quickly, 'a good one'. We promise to make use

of his services during our stay.