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8

TRAVEL

PORSCHIST

NOT EVERYTHING THAT GLITTERS IS GOLD?

If it is down to the Sultan of Brunei, it will be. Everything

that bears his name is recognisable by the abundant use of

22-carat gold. From the luxury Hassanal Bolkiah shopping

centre, the Hassanal Bolkiah national stadium and the huge

Hassanal Bolkiah mosque to the domes of his palace. Two

mosques define the skyline of Bandar Seri Begawan. The

most beautiful is the Omar Ali Saifuddin mosque with its

artificial lagoon and the replica of a 16th century state vessel

in front of it. Maybe a little kitsch to look at during the day,

but after sunset it is so ingeniously illuminated that the white

building seems to float. Outside the times for prayer, the

mosque is open to non-Muslims and we take a look inside.

Haji recites his lesson: "The floor and walls are Italian marble,

the stained-glass windows were made in England and the

many carpets were flown in from Belgium." There you go,

even we have benefited from a few drops of oil. The Jame'asr

Hassanil Bolkiah mosque is the largest mosque in Brunei. It

was built in honour of the Sultan's 25-year reign. Because the

Sultan is the 29th ruler of his dynasty, the complex is deco-

rated with 29 golden domes that turn the sky into a radiant

blaze at night.

The Royal Regalia Museum is one enor-

mous tribute to the Sultan. In addition

to many family photographs, letters and

distinctions that refer to the personal life

of the Sultan, the museum also houses

an eccentric and entertaining collec-

tion of gifts that the Royal Family has

received from other Royals, world leaders

or blue blooded close friends in the past

decades. We immediately ask ourselves

the question: What, for God's sake, do

you give a man who has everything? From

what we see, it turns out that jewellery,

diamonds and - unsurprisingly - golden

objects do well. We can’t find a gift from

the Belgian Royal couple. In a separate

room, the Royal carriage that was used

during the Sultan’s silver jubilee proces-

sion in 1992 is exhibited.

The Royal Regalia Museum